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Fayette-Mom: The marble jar

Posted October 4, 2010

Jennifer Joyner

My husband and I have been having a hard time getting the children’s attention lately. Meaning, we’d put one in time out or we’d take away a toy from the other, but nothing was really working as far as discipline.

A friend tried talking me into getting a marble jar — you know, you do something bad, you lose a marble. You do something good, you earn a marble. If you earn a certain amount of marbles, you get rewarded. You get the idea.

I resisted this idea because I’ve tried sticker charts and treasure boxes at home, and they always worked for a couple of days and then my kids didn’t care about them anymore. I thought the marble jar would turn out the same way.

A couple of weeks ago, after an outing in which my kids were misbehaving, I decided to try the marble jar. I took the kids to the dollar store and let them pick out the jars and the marbles. I layed out the rules, giving them a general idea of how you lose and gain marbles. And I sat back and waited, mostly thinking this would end up being another waste of time.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. They LOVE it! When they earn a marble, they dance and sing and tell everyone they know. When they lose a marble, they are so distraught, making promise after promise they’ll never commit the transgression again. Randomly, in the car, they ask how they can earn more marbles. When the bad behavior starts, I remind them of the marble jar and they get wide-eyed and stop acting up. It has been simply fabulous.

Granted, it’s only been two weeks. But I give the marble jar technique two enthusiastic thumbs up!

Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food addiction memoir, "Designated Fat Girl," was released in September. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.


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  • aloflin Oct 5, 2010

    What are their rewards? How many marbles do they have to earn to receive a reward?