Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Positive discipline and the marble jar

Picture curtesy of

I know I am often banging on about how things go in cycles and how we should learn to see and anticipate those cycles in order to be most effective. Well, here is another cycle:

The cycle of discipline (or the lack of it) in my children. This may well be linked to my cyclical way of life but nonetheless it needs some attention.

So we are in a downward spiral of rapidly declining behaviour in this house, which happens from time to time as I relax my expectations and/or lose focus, and the time has come to put a stop to it. I am however, or have been until recently, at my wits end. One of the problems I can't seem to overcome is that, while Shannon is constantly brought to book for her indiscretions on the behaviour front, Jordan has been allowed to get away with a good amount of disastrous behaviour under the guise that he is too little to understand (bad mother). He has been recently subjected to the Naughty Mat, but since he thinks it is a game for me to catch him when he gets up and runs away, I am still figuring his discipline out. In the mean time, Shannon needs to be less victimised and positive discipline has always worked better for her anyway!

In discussing this with another Mum, who is also head of a pre-school, she suggested I try the Marble Jar with Shannon. This ought to stop the shouting and offers a positive form of self discipline that I am reinforcing rather than enforcing. This is an age old method, used by many a parent before me, and for anyone who is keen to try it here is how it works(in theory anyway, I have yet to begin!):

There are two jars, one for Shannon and one for me, for every good behaviour such as tidying up, listening the first time, getting her own things together for school etc, she gets to take a marble from my jar and put it in her jar. For every bad behaviour, she must take one out of her Jar and give it back to me. Once she has a certain number of marbles in her jar she recieves a treat, like stickers for example (she loves those) and if she get more than the target she gets a bigger treat (haven't decided on that yet, but I think I will ask her for her input!)

The fact that shannon herself is doing the rewarding and punishing, in the form of moving marbles, is supposed to lead her to regulate her own behaviour! We shall see. I still have to buy the marbles!

I am going to start on Monday as we are out and about all weekend, so it would be pointless starting now. Until then the Naughty Mat will remain a warm spot to sit. I will keep you posted on the success (or not) unless I lose my own marbles in the interim!


Potty Mummy said...

Great pointer, I'm definitely going to try that one. And thanks for the kind words and the award, btw - sorry it took me so long to come over and pick it up!

Mom de Plume said...

heh heh, don't worry you are far from the last one :)

Due to a certain amount of naughtiness I started the marbles with Shannon yesterday and she is very worried about losing the 'good' marbles to the naughty jar :)

Anonymous said...

Discipline? don't they just automatically do as they are told? hehe..Good luck, i'll be needing a book from you on all the things that work and don't work... probably in about 18 months time! hmmm... Perhaps the harness for Jordan could be used to tie him to a rail near the naughty mat!
I hope it arrives soon!

Mom de Plume said...

Heh heh, I knew it had to be one of those!!! You are a star :) He gets very cross with me in the shops as I won't let him walk... now I will be able to hahahahahah

Clare said...

So how is the marble jar going?

Vanessa Davies said...

We have a harness, actually ... and also a kazillion marbles. I'll try that jar trick, too. My theory is that you lay down the law, they obey, then they test teh oundaries, you re-lay down the law, and it all starts again. Cyclical, you know ...

Mom de Plume said...

Clare the marble Jar is AMAZING. It has the power to change the mood of a child (Shannon specifically) from strop to little miss happiness in the blink of an eye! Awesome!

Vanessa, it is the cyclical thing that, as usual, is catching me out. THe trouble is we descend into chaos before I remember that I am the one who is in charge and by that stage I have to start from scratch... almost. Marble Jar works wonders :)