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don't lose your marbles

Posted Aug 21 2009 10:52am

We've had a slew of bad behavior in our house lately. I'm not sure if it's because my kids, together, hit the potty language, the talking back and the do-you-have-cotton-balls-in-your-ears phases all at the same time. I mean, they are four and five. I felt like I had a double whammy of words like "pee pee," "butt" and "poo poo" coming at me all the live long day. Yet another drawback to Baby Bunching. Wham Bam, you're slammed with everything at once.

My initial strategy for this was time outs and losing privileges. OMG....time outs are just way too hard. And really, there are only so many privileges they can lose, and sometimes 30 minutes of a show at night is not just for them, but me as well! I was so frustrated and at a complete loss for what to do. Unfortunately, yelling started to rear its ugly head in the door. And the mommy yelling monster didn't really have an affect, except pissing everyone off even more.

Then, the magic marbles arrived.

I really wish I could take full credit for the idea, but alas, my very good Baby Bunching friend (in real life) Denise told me about using marbles. At first I rolled my eyes, because really.....marbles. But the whole idea is similar to a star chart of some kind.

Here's how we adapted it for our house.

Each Sunday, each child starts out with 10 marbles. By the end of following Saturday night, they have to maintain the 10 marbles. They lose them for talking back to me or each other; for nasty name calling; for potty language; for disobeying; for not doing what they were asked. Pretty basic stuff here.

But they also have opportunities to earn back marbles by helping their sibling, helping me out, cleaning up their rooms, getting ready for bed without being asked, cleaning up the toys they were playing with, etc. If you look at the whole picture, just behaving during the week would mean they would end up with the 10 original marbles.

On Sunday if they maintained or have more than 10 marbles, they get to pick out a small, inexpensive prize. When we started this ritual, my husband gave it three days. He was sure it wouldn't work. I believe this is our 8th week. Some weeks one child makes it and the other doesn't. Some weeks no one makes it. And last week was the first week they BOTH got to pick a prize! Pretty exciting for everyone. And it's so nice when someone starts being nasty to just walk into their room and simply take the marble. No more yelling or idle threats. You misbehave, your marble is gone. You don't have enough....oh well. I figure it's not only teaching them to behave themselves a little better (yes, it's happening), but it teaches delayed gratification since they have to wait a whole week for a treat.

Suddenly everyone gets it without me losing my marbles.

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