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Go Ask Mom

Lynda Loveland: Road testing 'discipline in a jar'

Posted July 14, 2010

Lynda Loveland

It sounds like the perfect solution to disciplining my three young children. My friend recommended it. If my child gets in trouble, they draw from a jar filled with "extra" chores called the Jar of Consequences. It's designed to eliminate any yelling or whatever may ensue. I gave it a test run the other day. My daughter had some listening issues so she was the inaugural jar picker.

She reached in and drew 'weed the natural area'. Boy, did that bring back memories. Although her area was a heck of a lot smaller than the half acre garden I tackled as a kid. As she followed me out the back door I overhead my son say, "Can I weed too?" My husband, a bit frustrated, coolly replied, "No, it's supposed to be punishment!" What? Did that really happen?

We had a second road test yesterday. My son acted up and he had to draw twice. He was not having a good day. He reached in and his first task was to "clean the side of the stairs." He drew a second time. I read it out loud. It said, 'clean the toilets'. I was expecting a less than favorable reaction. But before my son could speak my three-year-old daughter said, "I want to clean toilets too!" I actually had to say, "No, you have to wait your turn." Has that phrase ever been uttered by a parent?

Anyway, he cleaned the toilets with a smile on his face and said he would make mine all nice and shiny. Gee thanks.

I don't really know what to think about the Jar of Consequences just yet. I think it's made the whole discipline thing a bit calmer, which is good. And my house is getting cleaner.

But who taught my kids reverse psychology!!!!!

Lynda is the mom of three and co-host of Mix 101.5 WRAL-FM's Bill & Lynda in the Morning show. Find her here every Thursday.


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  • persimmonkilgore Jul 20, 2010

    This is a hoot! I used a job jar mostly during the summers to stop the scrapping & fussing between my three children. I laugh now when I read on here that this will permanently scar their little psyches...must be why all three of them are such responsible, hard-working, job holding, thoughtful, kind, caring, empathetic, bright, funny MISFITS! lol

  • finicula Jul 18, 2010

    I know of a fascinating little old man on the island of Melanesian who is renowned for producing some of the finest shrunken heads. I believe one of these little masterpieces would go great inside one of your 'jars of consequences', and serve as a poignant reminder of what happens to those who don't follow mommy's instructions. Mail-Order only -of course.

  • Adelinthe Jul 17, 2010

    "Punishing your kids by making them do chores they should already be doing is not a good idea."

    What child would be cleaning toilets or cleaning down stairs at the age of 3???

    Anyway, I like the Reward Jar better than the Jar of Consequences. It's a positive reinforcement rather than a punitive one.

    The consequences should be Time Out. If you have to sit with the child to make them stay in the chair, so be it - you do it.

    God bless.


  • Adelinthe Jul 17, 2010

    This is a hoot!

    Ya just never know about kids, do ya.

    Time out and Reward Jars always worked well for me.

    Time out for a minute for each year of the child's age, the time began when they sat in the chair QUIETLY.

    A Reward Jar is a plastic jar filled with stickers, temporary tatooes, and those little green and pink mints. They get to draw one thing from it whenever I noticed them doing something nice without being asked or coached to do so - especially if they tinkled or stinkied in the potty instead of in their pants.


    God bless.


  • NCMOMof3 Jul 17, 2010

    I agree, in part, to the posters that say cleaning up after themselves or helping with the housework should be expected and not used only for punishment but I really like the idea. Maybe the children could be assigned regular chores (my kids have to wash their own clothes, take out the trash, do the dishes, vacuum, and feed the pets) but have other chores that are not their regular ones listed in the jar. This way, the children still learn responsibility and that based on the fact that they live in the house and must contribute towards the upkeep but also some of the more than desirable jobs get done when the children act up. I'm all for stopping the whining.

  • apesloc27 Jul 17, 2010

    I agree with bkahuna!

  • apesloc27 Jul 17, 2010

    It's funny how subscriber's can make excuses for Lynda.It's always different when it's not your child.My children were waving and saying hello. Calm down everyone I still sleep at night over the situation and I'm sure she does.

  • bkahuna Jul 16, 2010

    Punishing your kids by making them do chores they should already be doing is not a good idea. You're just going to make them resent cleaning up after themselves. Unless your family can afford a maid and butler, you're making a big mistake in my opinion. This a a bi reason why kids today behave so much worse than they did just 20 years ago. We've become Charmin soft when it comes to behavior and punishment. "Behave or I'll make you clean up after yourself"....seriously?

  • BigUNCFan Jul 16, 2010

    Lynda, have to say that your kids probably are not used to doing things based on your blog. Chores should be a regular part of life in a house, not a punishment. Otherwise, when they grow up, they will just only think of that stuff as punishment.

    Punishments are no dinner for the night (and no it will not kill them or stunt their growth to miss a meal once in a while, folks should get over that one), no snacks, no tv, earlier bedtime, no playdates, no weekend activities, etc.

    I saw the thing about ignoring the kids at Target. I was not there so cannot judge it but if she did ignore little kids who just wanted to meet her, then that is not good. TV personalities come and go and fame is fleeting so it is best to treat fans right.

    I think Labron is starting to find out people can quickly change their perception of you and being popular can turn on a dime.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • missparrothead Jul 16, 2010

    Think like the military- clean the bathroom floor with a toothbrush, and if you whine about it, you can do it again.I'm also a bit uncertain about putting standard chores into the jar, since they need to be helping out around the house anyways. Earlier bedtime, no tv, no video games, playdates, sweet treats, etc. You can also do the reverse- sticker chart, charting the behaviors that you want to extinguish. The challenge is keeping up with it day after day.