Monday, June 27, 2011

Marble Jar (Part 1)

Yesterday's sermon at Church was so powerful, so eye-opening and so convicting. It caused me to desire new changes. Changes spiritually, changes physically, and changes emotionally. I guess you could relate this to an epiphany in a sense. Spiritually, I want my prayer life to grow leaps and bounds. Send me any prayer requests you have... your petitions will help me grow here. Right now, I've decided to leave my biggest prayer request "silent" except for and with my closest girlfriends and husband, but I can tell that God is already working on it... I hope. I mean, I guess I could just chalk this up as a "good day" or a "calm day" and I'll take it, but my faith is higher then to leave it at that. I know and I trust from John 14:14 that if I "ask anything in [His] name, [He] will do it." I know my dear friends are praying for me and it shows.

So, what does this have to do with the price of tea in China or the title of this post, "Marble Jar"?

Today, I tried to make wiser choices. I made changes in the way my day got started. I made changes in the way my children's day got started. I made plans. I had goals. And I stuck to it all. I felt accomplished and that feeling always is a good one. Agree?

One thing I decided to try and improve in our home is order. Not order in the cleanly sense, I'm pretty sure I've had that talent since I was at least 8, but order with my children. Let me put it more positively... better management or increased harmony amongst them. I thrive off of structure. I like calmness. I desire guidelines in our home, control, and peace. With children, it's possible, but the odds are against me and 3 little depraved souls.

Last year, I came across an article in a magazine that was written by a mother who tried it all. Sticker charts, verbal praise, allowance, etc. etc. etc. She was fed up. She was tired. She felt like a nag and also like a broken record. She was at her last straw and decided to give it ONE last ditched effort by creating her own incentive system called a marble jar. I wanted to try this last year, but instead decided to rip the article out of the magazine and save it for when the twins were a tad older. This morning when I woke up, I decided, today was the day we were starting this idea. Now, I know many of you probably don't agree with reward systems or incentive programs. I'm not entirely sold either, but for my Tyson, especially, it works and it works GOOOOOD. So for now, to maintain that "order" that I spoke of earlier, I have to mimic this mother's marble jar idea.

The idea behind the marble jar is that each child gets a clear glass (or plastic) jar and every time they do something worthy (follow directions, clean their room, going out of their way for someone, speaking kindly to others etc.) then they get to put a marble in their jar. Once the jar is full... a reward is given.

The one area we will have to watch out for with Tyson when using something like the marble jar is that he will start to expect a marble for everything. We have decided that the marbles are to be earned for behaviors that our children struggle with. The marbles are rewards for things that aren't getting done. If brushing teeth is an issue then a marble is given when the child brushes their teeth without hassle.

Visual reward systems work well for younger children, I think. I have noticed a HUGE difference today already. Here are just a few examples:

1. NO behavior issues in A.C. Moore. No handling of store items or running off.
2. MANNERS.... "YES MAAM" has never been said more than it has been said today.
3. Being helpful without asking... we place our shoes on the steps when we take them off and Tyson brought everyone's shoes up and placed them in each person's closet. He usually walks right passed them.
4. Tyson has been overly kind and GENTLE with is siblings today.

We have made several rules regarding the marble jar reward system:

1. You cannot ask for or suggest that you deserve a marble. If so, one is removed.
2. If you are ill tempered, ugly, disrespectful, or disobedient a marble can be removed.
3. Do NOT expect a marble to be placed in your jar for every kind deed you perform.
4. Remember, kind deeds are NOT to be done JUST because you want to earn a marble. Kind deeds are to be done because it is expected of us and should be the desire of our heart because it pleases our God.
5. IF you are caught adding to your jar without permission or stealing from a sibling's jar, your jar gets emptied.
6. You cannot earn a (-) negative amount of marbles. That's too much to keep up with.
7. When your jar is filled to the "line" or the piece of ribbon we tied to the top of each jar, you are entitled to a $20 ANYTHING. Sounds like a lot, but the mom who's article I read said it takes about 4 weeks to fill the jar being marbles can also be removed.

I look forward to using this in the teenage years to come. This mom had children ranging from 3 to 16. She said her teenagers were constantly on the prowl to "one up" each other in the house (ie. they would set their alarm early to empty the dishwasher before the house woke up.) Where I struggle with this incentive program is the fact that we are learning in Matthew 6 to "beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven." It appears and sounds as if this marble jar could essentially and potentially go against this command. I am hoping this will help train Tyson, Lilah and Jaxon to desire to be obedient UNTIL the Lord changes their heart for good. Who knows how long this will stick. We will revisit it from time to time to make sure it's the best decision for our family. For now, it really does seem to be working great! I give it an A++++
We went to AC Moore today. Purchased plain glass mason jars. I allowed each child to pick out their very own stickers to use to decorate the outside of their jar.

Tyson decorates his jar.

Tyson's jar. He recently told us that he would like to go to College to be an astronaut, hence the reason he picked out space ship/astronaut stickers. The colorful ribbon at the top of each jar is the "line" where the marbles must be filled to. If you look closely, you can see Ty has earned 4 marbles already.
Lilah was the first to finish. Lilah chose butterflies stickers.
Lilah's jar. Lilah has earned 1 marble already. She's been a tad feisty today.
Daddy helped guide the twins with their stickers.
But as usual they said, "I do it!"
Jax chose train stickers.
Jax's jar. Jax has one marble too.