Punishment or positive reinforcement? Kids and adults both respond so much better when their good choices are appreciated more than their bad choices – it’s just so easy to forget to show gratitude when things are going well. It’s actually hard to remember to say to your kids, “Wow, you’re playing peacefully!” Instead we savor the quietude and try to sneak off to do something for ourselves for 15 minutes – right? It’s when the peace ends that we say, “Can’t you two just get along?”
I know if my kids are hearing more negative than positive from me then things start to actually spiral more toward the negative. So, when I learned about this family jar to acknowledge positive and even neutral behavior, I knew this was a great tool for us and one I had to share. This idea comes from Dr. Charlotte Resnick. She has lots of articles, meditation CDs for kids and her parenting book on her website: IMAGERY FOR KIDS.
The goal of the jar is to help make and keep your home happy and calm. To do this, we parents need to notice when things are going well more often then when they are going wrong. The jar helps train parents to notice their kids good behavior hopefully more than their bad as much as it helps train the kids. When you find your kids engaged in an activity and not fighting, you can say, “I really appreciate your effort at being kind and cooperative. I’m going to put a bean in the Kind & Calm Jar.” This applies even if your kids aren’t playing together but are in the same room and not trying to kill each other 🙂 Of course when you notice your kids doing something generous or kind, acknowledge that too. “You are such a kind big brother. Thank you so much for sharing your toy. Let’s go put a bean in the jar.”
You can use beans or pasta or marbles – what ever you have on hand or what ever you think will get your kids on board and excited about the idea. I had some forgotten Christmas lima beans in my pantry and so we used those. Then you mark on the jar goal levels.
I made ours so that usually my husband and I can acknowledge about ten positive things per day and after 7 or 8 days, Asher and Russ have hit a mark on the jar. When we hit the mark, the kids feel proud they’ve attained their goal of helping our family stay kind and calm. The kids also get a reward. We have a family plan to either go to the art store and buy a new special pen or paper or have an special destination outing or just go get some ice-cream. Then, when we fill the jar completely, the kids goal is to each get to pick out a Lego set. Hopefully that’s in about 10 weeks…I’ll keep you posted!
I hope this idea inspires you and helps make being a positive parent a little easier. I know I need all the help I can get 🙂
Many Wishes of Health & Gratitude,