Friday, November 18, 2011

The Marble Jar

Welcome, marble jar, to my bag of parenting tricks! Ove the last few months, The Potterer (my husband) and myself have been talking about pocket money, bribes incentives, rewards, household jobs and responsibilities.

Our view is that there are some jobs that we all just do because that's what you do in a family. If I get home with a boot full of groceries, The Potterer (TP) helps me to carry them upstairs. If TP is changing the sheets on the beds, I will help him do the corners. They are nobodys jobs, because they are everybodys jobs and I want T to grow up knowing that we help each other out, for no other reason than we are family and that's what you do.

So, knowing that we have a few years up our sleeves before we really have to think about pocket money we haven't 'gone there' yet.

And as great as praise and instrinsic motivation is great for kids, we found that there were a million few things that T-Diggity needed a little extra help to do. Like anything that I asked him to do the first 12 twelve times before I resorted to using my Teacher Voice.

A quick trip to the $2 shop and The Marble Jar was born. Notice the capitalisation? That's because this thing is revered in our house. By all of us.

At the moment he gets a marble in the jar inconsistantly- it might be when he does something without being asked- unloading the fruit from the grocery bags into the fruit bowl, or wiping down the table after dinner or it's for doing things the first time he is asked- like getting his shoes on before we go out. He hasn't come to expect a marble for anything, he hasn't been asking whether he gets a marble before he does the job but the look on his face when we say "Well done! Let's go get a marble!" is just priceless.

The plan is that when the marble jar is full, he can choose a treat. Whether it is an extra trip to the library, or the lagoon, going to see a movie or choosing a toy or book at the shops. A little savings plan you might say... At the moment though, he doesn't even care about the end result- getting a marble is thrill enough.

What's the latest trick in your arsenal? Do you do pocket money? Are you for or against rewards?


  1. Love it! (although not an idea that I can steal for my 4yr old because I'm sure my 1yr old would eat them hehe). I think that rewards are a very useful parenting tool when used judiciously in the way that you are. They can also backfire badly when used without due consideration of course. Intrinsic motivation is great and should be fostered but sometimes it only takes us so far. I also think that sometimes we would never find the intrinsic motivation to do something if not nudged along by a bit of external motivation!

  2. My kids are older than yours (12, 8, 6), and we are in pocket money territory. My strategy is The Chore Board. It's a white board with some chores listed on it, and against each chore is a price and a time. When the kids do a chore from The Chore Board, they can choose cash or screen time as allocated to each chore. If they do it without being asked, they gat an extra 10%. If I ask them, they get the listed about. If I have to ask them more than once they get nothing.

    It isn't perfect,but my oldest is saving for an iPod, and he's going gang-busters.