Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Encouraging Desired Behaviors

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I used this technique when I taught elementary school and it worked wonders. I didn't make think of it myself, but first read of it in the 1980's in Lee Canter's Assertive Discipline

The idea is to reward desired behavior by putting marbles, one by one, into a jar. The sound of the marble plunking into the jar is a reminder that the behavior is being rewarded, and when the jar is full, a predetermined prize is given.

In our case, I had recently noticed that our "yes ma'ams" and "yes sirs" were slipping into obscurity, so I pulled out the trusty marbles.

I explained that each time I heard one of my children respond with "ma'am" or "sir" I would put a marble into the jar. When the jar was filled we would all go out for ice cream cones.

You would not believe the speed with which the "ma'ams" and "sirs" have returned to our house! There is something about hearing that marble hit and watching them slowly inch toward the top of the jar that lights a fire in children! Everyone does his or her part in getting those marbles to the top.

This technique can be used for any habit that needs reinforcing; Saying please or thank you, taking plates after dinner, making beds without being told.

For us, it is a handy visual and auditory reminder that reinforces positive habits. We will fill the jar and enjoy our ice cream cones a couple of times before I put the marbles away. By that time, the desired behavior will be a habit again.

Works for me!


Brenda said...

Ah. Lee Canter. Sadly, he has left the building. (in public school that is....)

I haven't used marbles (well, beads anyway) in a long time. Good reminder....wonder what we could work on around here???

Hmm. NOT leaving toys in the living room!!! Yes. I will start on that tomorrow. Thanks!

Jami said...

Great idea, I will have to put this in the noggin' for the future, right now if I understand her language for banana please, it is a miracle.

Thanks for the congrats, we are excited well I am excited, my husband is elated!!!

Raising Olives said...

We do this same thing, although our kids earn a penny (they do have to give them back) whenever their chores check the first time in the given amount of time.

Penny jars have been forgotten recently, so thanks for the reminder.


Your Frugal Friend, Niki said...

Gosh I learned so much from Lee Canter. I was a teacher before my son's birth and his techniques (including this one) served me well.

Great post!


Kirsty said...

I like it. I think it may be my summer salvation ;) Thank you!

Jenny said...

I remember the marble jar from when I was in Kindergarten! LOL! That's the only Kindergarten memory I have. I can just see Mrs. Meyer and the marble jar.

Your tips are good. Too often, I try a new reward system for something vague like "listening" and it lasts only a few days. I need to reward positive behaviors and not focus on trying to punish the negative behaviors so much.

Home School Dad said...

We do that with yes moms and dads and also brotherly and sisterly kindess to each other. When the jar is filled up it's off to chuck-e-cheese. It's on break right now because it ceased working. I think we will try it again soon/

Dana~Are We There Yet? said...

Kinda like a backwards cuss can...I like it!

alecat said...

I'm new to Lee Canter, so thanks for the link and idea!

~Sara said...

Great idea. Maybe I should try this with my 2 and 3 year old.

Kasey Hunt said...

Great idea. Thanks for the tip.

Amy said...

I am so glad to read this! I had the idea all on my own to fill a jar to help Dale get jobs done faster. At first it worked great, but I was filling our jar with pennies, so even though it was a little baby-food jar it was taking too long. We are switching to marbles or beads TODAY!! :)
Thank you!!!!

rachel said...

Super idea! I will have to think about what thing to work on first!

Kristi_runwatch said...

Thanks for the motivation! I've been thinking about pulling out a jar for a few things... this gives me a nice kick to actually do it!

Jenny said...

good idea. i should try this with my son.

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