Friday, May 18, 2012

Parenting Tips: Refill Mom’s Jar

By Tiffany Rudd
In my opinion discipline is one of the hardest parts of being a parent. I took multiple classes in college on discipline, I’ve read too many books on the subject to even count, and I still find myself in situations with my children where I just don’t know what to do. What is the right consequence? Am I using rewards (i.e. bribery) too often? And my favorite...NOTHING is working, what the heck do I do now? :)
I recently found myself in this situation with my 6 year old and thought I would share with you the solution that finally worked. I can’t guarantee it will work for you since every child and every situation is different (no wonder discipline is so blasted hard!), but it may be worth a try. Especially since it means help with chores! 
So, here’s the story. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that after Cameron started Kindergarten he started calling me names. Super mean, naughty, hurtful names. I was so not okay with it, but seriously could not get it to stop. We tried timeout, losing fun activities, working toward fun activities, and even eventually spanking. Nothing worked. I felt so drained by the end of each day spent serving my child who continued to call me names. 
I was telling my husband one night how emotionally drained I felt when I had the idea for the “mom jar.” The next morning I filled a small jar with marbles and went to talk to Cameron. I talked to him about how moms have feelings too. About how much it hurt and drained me to be called names. Then we brainstormed together things that could help “refill” me when I am feeling that way. Dishes, help with laundry, cleaning mirrors, and vacuuming are a few that we came up with.

Starting that morning, each time Cameron called me a name a marble came out of the jar. Before the end of the day he had to do a chore for each marble to be put back in the jar. Not one chore for all the marbles, one chore for each. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that he did 12 chores for me that first day. TWELVE. It was a hard day for both of us. But, I continued pulling marbles each time he called me a name and thanking him each time he worked to refill my jar. My favorite part of this system is that it doesn’t involve so much negative talk on my part. All I did was frown and pull out a marble. Once he calmed down he even usually came up with the chores himself. 
It took a few days, but eventually marbles were being pulled out less often and now I can’t even remember the last time he called me a nasty name. Whew. 
Now the mom jar gets drained by fighting. Either arguing with mom/dad or fighting with siblings. It has definitely helped. It doesn’t mean there is never any fighting in our house, but when there is I just frown and pull a marble. No more yelling and, most importantly, no more feeling emotionally drained at the end of every day. 

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  1. I absolutly love this idea! Way to be creative and come up with a brilliant solution to a difficult problem. Thanks for linking up to the Sunday Parenting Party! I've featured you this week. Come on by to see it and grab a button!

  2. I love this! Providing a visual substitute for yelling or negative talk is a very powerful tool that I used a lot when I designed behavior systems for kids with autism spectrum disorders in mainstream classrooms. I fully expect to use this type of system with my own little ones as soon as they are old enough to understand it. Way to go, Mama! I hopped over from the Sunday Parenting Party. Have a great week!



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