We never had to deal with the "terrible twos" in this house. In fact, until about four or five months ago, we thought we had gotten off pretty easy. Don't get me wrong, Emerson is the sweetest little girl in the world, she's happy, agreeable, cooperative, helpful, cuddly, rarely cries, rarely talks back, and rarely objects (of course I am completely biased). But even the most perfect of children have their moments. We started having THOSE moments a few months ago and we knew we had hit the "terrible threes". Granted they haven't been as bad as what some of our friends have gone through, but when you're the parents going through it, it seems like there's no end in sight.
A few of our friends use a different approach to getting through those tough, not listening, talking back, throwing-themselves-on-the-floor, screaming, crying, time-outs-aren't-working times. My friend and colleague, Erika, was the first to tell me about her "Marble Jar". She has two boys, and as she says, "they are a handful". One day when I was on the phone with her, she threatened to take away four marbles when one of the boys wasn't cooperating. She peaked my interest and went on to tell me how the system works. It's pretty simple, really. Each boy has his own small jar and there is a large bowl/jar that houses the general marbles. When the boys do something good, they get marbles; when they do something bad, have bad days, don't listen, etc., that get marbles taken away. Each boy has to count out their own marbles and put them into their jar or take them out. Once the boy's jars are filled or they have the amount agreed upon, they take a trip to Target (or some other store) and pick out a gift up to $20.00.
Emerson's friend, Kayla, and her family also use this "marble system". Denise, Kayla's mom, has taken a slightly different approach by assigning a monetary value to each jewel (they use jewels and not marbles). Once the girls have reached a certain amount, they can go to a store and spend that amount or save it and add to it with the next jewel accumulation.
So since I heard two sets of parents using the system and since Danny and I needed another way to discipline (time-outs just weren't getting through), we decided to start our own "Jewel Jar". Last Sunday, June 26th, while Danny was playing golf, Emerson and I took a trip to JoAnne's Fabrics to look for some fabric and get the jewels and jewel jars. Emerson was very excited to pick out her pink and clear jewels and the two jars to house them. Of course you know when we got home, I had to "Brooke-Up" the jars. I painted "jewels" on one jar (the jewels for Emerson to earn) and "emerson" on the other (the jewels she has earned) and then added a few crystals.
So far, the Jewel Jar is working great. We've seen a huge decline on some of the bad behavior and an increase in good behavior. We try to liberally reward for positive behavior sending the message of positive reinforcement instead of taking away for bad behavior, but we've had to take a few away here and there. We decided not to assign an amount to the jewels but we do have two different sized jewels. Big jewels are given for super cooperation or a great day; smaller jewels are given for chores and asking politely. The same holds true for taking them away, small jewels for lesser offenses, big jewels for greater offenses. Hopefully this is really working or maybe it's just that we are days away from hitting Emerson's fourth birthday and all those terrible threes are leaving her system....we can only hope!!
Positive Behavior we've rewarded:
Getting ready in the morning without whining or delay
Saying please and thank you without being told
Helping clean up around the house