mason jar marbles

by Beth Ann Morgan

Ever had one of those days with your kids when you realize you need a fresh strategy? I was talking to my friend at the playground on Friday. She’d had one of those days and broke into tears as she shared her concerns with me. I listened, relating to her on many levels as I am far from a perfect parent. And then I told her a lifesaver I had discovered roughly three years earlier.

Marbles and mason jars.

Prior to this miraculous discovery, I’d had many ultra-challenging days with my kids. Not that I don’t have them occasionally now (today was a whopper!), but marbles and mason jars have helped all of us tremendously.

My husband had told me on one such day that his childhood teacher, Mr. Wells, always kept two big jars on his desk with marbles in them. When the students behaved well, he would add marbles to the “good” jar, and if the marbles made their way up to the top, he would grant the class extra recess time. But if the students behaved poorly, Mr. Wells would pour marbles into the “bad” jar and adjust recess time accordingly.

“Did it work?” I asked.

“Extremely well,” my husband said. “We wanted to please him.”

It made sense. If it worked for Mr. Wells, perhaps it could work for me. I decided to give it a whirl. When we explained the system to the kids, we let them pick the reward they would receive once the good jar was filled. A special treat. Staying up late. A fun family outing. And then we explained that if the other jar filled first, they would lose the opportunity to earn that particular reward.

Wow! Overnight, the kids transformed from complaining and melting down to encouraging and sharing. It was amazing. Not that they suddenly became perfect, but the difference was marked. I could see they wanted to please me.   They not only received several rewards, but they also felt good about making wise behavior choices.

Who would have thought so many miracles would be birthed in a mason jar?

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