Rocks and Marbles
a certain point in the raising of children, the focus shifts away from
the negative to the positive. There's a lot less of, "don't do this"
and "don't touch that" to "do this" and "do that." At ages nine and
seven, my kids don't get a lot of discipline, shall we say. Corrective
actions happen less and less frequently, and we were looking for a way
to shift our approach toward rewarding the results of their training. I
stumbled upon a 'system' online, and we adapted it for our own uses.
Here's the original post from which I got the idea.
we do it: Each child has his or her own color of glass marbles
(Kathryn:green, Alex:blue). Throughout the day, marbles may be earned
for a variety of things (the vagueness started getting to us, so our
list is as follows:
1. Complete morning chores before school without being asked. (1 marble)
2. Complete bedtime chores before 8:00 p.m. without being asked. (1 marble)
3. Do all homeschool without complaint. (2 marbles)
4. Get caught doing something nice for someone else (not their chores). (Reward up to Mom)
5. Eat breakfast and lunch with a good attitude. (1 marble per day)
On number four, Kathryn began 'doing something nice' for Alex by
completing his chores for him. He was delighted and more than happy to
let her 'earn a marble.' You can see the problem here. An example from
yesterday of 'something nice' was when Kathryn wasn't feeling good,
Alex went and got her a blanket and stuffed animal.
* On number
five, this is a big deal for picky eaters. They truly dislike so many
foods. I don't die on that hill at suppertime, since that is family
time. At supper, they can pick from whatever is on the table. Sometimes (rarely) that may be just bread and butter. They haven't died yet.
day, they earn marbles and then at night they combine them in a big
jar. This is intentional, as I don't want them 'competing' for
goodness. Rather, they are being told that loving actions benefit the
family as a whole and gets us all closer to our goals. The goals are
lines marked on the jar. As they are reached, preset fun things are
done. It may be pizza night, or a new book they want, or whatever is on
their minds at the moment (and approved as appropriately motivating and
budget friendly as possible).
On to the rocks. Rocks
are a big deal. They are given ONLY when a stranger comments on their
CHARACTER. Not their appearance. This would be, "You are so polite,"
or "You are so kind," etc. Sometimes, they get close with a "thank you
sooo much," but that isn't a rock. Needless to say, rocks get us a lot
closer to our goals and are hard to earn.
also allowed us to pull back a little from stronger forms of
discipline. There are times when discipline (I'll leave this up to your
biblical imagination- haha!) are needed. Lies and outright rebellion
are the main two no-no's here. For smaller infractions (for example,
yesterday when Alex didn't want to write and I could tell he was goofing
off by s-l-o-w-l-y! writing), I pulled a marble out of the jar.
is working really well for us. It is a way to reward progress, correct
wrongs, build teamwork. All with an emphasis (I verbally emphasize
this to them on a regular basis) on how doing right affects others.