In the course of our bedtime story reading the other night, we came upon the word "rewards" and Brighton wanted to know what it meant. We had a little discussion about earning rewards and I decided to take the opportunity to introduce the concept of Marble Jars. This was the incentive method my own mom used with us; we each had a little glass jar and could earn marbles for various tasks. Once the jar was full, you got to pick a small prize. (side note: my two siblings and I each had the same kind of jar, which were once used to hold marinated artichoke hearts. I had to ask my mom recently why on earth she had so many of those particular jars and she couldn't remember...WE certainly weren't eating them!!)
I've been thinking for awhile about ways to decrease the habitual tension that surrounds the everyday tasks that have to get accomplished but no one wants to do. Getting out of the house on the mornings Brighton has school is awful and there's nothing worse than starting the day with shouting and tears. I'm resigned to the fact that a 3- and 5-year-old just aren't going to do what they need to do without being harangued, so I need a positive spin.
Anyway, the kids were really enthusiastic about the idea of Marble Jars so I picked up some suitable containers today, personalized them with stickers and had the kids help me write a list of ways they could earn marbles. Per advice I've gotten, there are a certain number of "gimmes" on there: things they are pretty good about doing anyway and will make them feel immediately successful and whet their appetites for more. Pacey seemed to grasp the idea right away and his contribution to the list was "put on jammies." Hmmm, not a bad one. Brighton, on the other hand, suggested that they might earn marbles for "going to the treehouse" (their favorite indoor play destination). Nice try kiddo, nice try. Unsurprisingly, however, she has already chosen what her first prize will be, "a purple pony with a purple brush."
They are currently out on the porch composing their own list of ways to earn marbles. I hear lots of mutterings about the treehouse so I don't think that negotiation is dead...