“Great job Buddy! Thank you for picking up all your toys when Mommy asked you; you can have 3 marbles!” I said, just before he ran over with his hand opened ready to collect his marbles to add to his marble jar.
The infamous marble jar has been around in elementary classrooms forever! Teacher or not; it works! It really has been a motivator and a great reward in our home lately!
Why the Marble Jar at Home:
Let’s face it toddlers need tangible rewards to keep them moving, or to slow them down. I was having a hard time finding those “rewards” that would motivate my son that were not always snacks or material items (ex. toys). I was also in need of something that would help him begin to learn the idea of aiming toward a long-term goal to earn something and delayed gratification.
Implementing the Marble Jar for Character Training at Home:
1. I began by selecting the character trait I wanted to focus on: Obedience (was first). Then, I came up with a reward (within reason and budget) that he could work toward.
2. Next, I showed him his marble jar and shared with him when we would use it. I told him that when he obeyed Mommy and Daddy the first time we would give him marbles to put in his jar, and also that when he collected enough marbles to reach the line he would earn a trip to See the Thomas the Train show that was coming town! That was all it took to get him on board.
3. So, immediately I began watching for times when he obeyed us the first time so that I could reward him. (I never set a number of marbles rule, and my husband and I just choose how many he received based on the event. This was the way I had done it at school and it worked just as well at home!) It began to work!
4. In the beginning, he would ask for marbles and if he did exhibit the character trait we had been working on, I would give him some. However, after awhile, we began telling him that he could not ask for marbles. We had to see him and WE had to offer the marbles. Later, we began only rewarding the behavior on occasion so that he realized sometimes he gets rewarded for doing what is right but other times he just does the right thing because it IS the right thing to do.
*Other Character Traits we’ve used so far: Obedience, Patience, Kindness, Love, and Gentleness. (We would like to continue adding to this list but also plan to occasionally go back and revisit traits.)