Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Fulfillment Project: Kids, Candy and Marbles

Kids + candy + marbles = the perfect trifecta.

Looks like Pump It Up is in my near future.
The kids part is obvious. If not, you can take a look at yesterday's blog post. The marble part needs a little explanation.

In our house we do a good job with positive reinforcement. Inspired by my darling friend Birdie, we created a marble jar. The marble jar is the physical representation of everything good done by either Child #1 or #2. Did you help your brother make his bed? Great, put a marble in the jar. Score a goal at the soccer game, memorize the multiplication tables, put someone else's feelings before your own, bring home a particularly beautiful art project, stick up for someone smaller than you or just about any positive thing a kid can do warrants a marble (or two).

There are only two caveats to the marble jar. The first one is kids can't ask for marbles and the second one is parents can't offer marbles in exchange for behavior. This ensures I don't have to thwart attempts at marble negotiation. The final rule about the marble jar, and this is a biggie, is that once the marbles go in, they don't come out until the jar is full and we start over. This is because, as I told the kids, "once you do something good it's yours to keep. No one can ever take your good deeds away from you."

When the jar is full the kids get to choose a fun activity to do together. The unexpected bonus to the marble jar is that now when they beg me to go to places like Chuck E Cheese or Pump It Up I can say, "Oooh, that sounds like a fun marble jar treat!"

The marble jar system has worked well for us. I love that it's a consistent positive reinforcement in our lives. However, I realized we haven't had any consistent negative reinforcements. As I said yesterday, time outs have run their course, spankings aren't an option and grounding seems like overkill most of the time.

What could I do?
And now we can add Halloween Candy.
A few weeks ago my daughter asked me to help her find something in her desk drawer. As we searched, I realized she still had the candy necklace and several lollipops she'd received on the last day of kindergarten. She's now in fourth grade. I looked around her room and everywhere were little boxes filled with uneaten candy. Downstairs in the snack drawer, I knew my son had a bag stuffed full of candy, the combined loot of many chocolate filled holidays, combined with treats found in goodie bags handed out a bazillion birthday parties.

A lightbulb went on!

My kids love dessert but even more than dessert, they like the possession of dessert. The knowledge they have a pumpkin full of Halloween candy is almost better than the candy itself. What if every small transgression cost them a small piece of candy? Maybe I could put aside my fears that I'm raising two little hoarders and use their tendencies to solve a problem.

Tomorrow, phase one of the candy plan.


Connie J Jasperson said...

That is very sweet about the candy necklace! The uneaten candy represents happy memories. Alas - my happy memories never go uneaten!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sneaky, Mom! Hit 'em where it hurts.

Tonja said...

We do marble rewards for my little guy because he loves them, but he gets them right away and collects them in a container he has control of. For my older kids, acknowledging the postive things they do seems to mean a lot to them. Or randomly going out to celebrate their awesomeness.

Johanna Garth said...

Connie, I like your interpretation better than mine!

Alex, yes, but I think it's working.

Tonja, it's always great to randomly celebrate kid awsomeness :)

Sarah Tokeley said...

I can't wait to hear how this goes down :-)