Update on Using Marbles to Correct Behavior

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About a month ago I had shared in a post a system I was going to put in place to help reward good behavior from my children.  After having this system in place, I want to let you know how it’s moving along.

Anna is really my most difficult child and is the one whose behavior has been my biggest concern.  So after none of the children receiving a marble the first day we began this program – their marble containers are now quite full.  Actually all but Anna’s.  :(  Initially with Anna it was helping to keep her in her bed after we said goodnight.  Anna is the ultimate procrastinator and will find any reason to put off what she doesn’t want to do and will fight tooth and nail if she’s called out on it.  She is just on the extreme end of strong-willed, so as frustrating and challenging as it can be I know that once we harness that behavior for the right things it will really help her in the future.  So at bedtime I started telling Anna, and Ethan since they are in the same room, that if they stayed in their bed I would give them 3 extra marbles for the day.  That part took off very well.  For the most part this has kept Anna in place at night time.

Although that was the only thing that really helped initially, I was grateful since by the time the kids go to bed I am “done” it was really great source of frustration.  I was ready to wind down, get any last minute blogging done and go to bed but I was prevented from doing that a lot since I was having to escort her back to her bed several times.  But in the past couple of weeks she has had a lot less tantrums and I’ve been able to talk her down before peaking out into a tantrum.  She has had a lot of marbles taken away – she lost 16 in one day!

Ethan and Megan are pretty well-behaved.  Megan gets a little snippy sometimes but honestly they have not had too many marbles taken away from them.  I really want Anna to feel the rewards of her behavior so she doesn’t tire of it and see’s no point in earning marbles.  Right now I am allowing her extra marbles for times that she didn’t have a fit and/or recovered from one very quickly, also for not taunting the animals (cat and dog) – really any little good thing she does I am allowing her extra marbles.

For Ethan, he get the 3 for staying in his bed – which he did anyway the only reason why he got up is because Anna didn’t want to get up on her own and would wake him up!  He also gets 2 at the end of each day when he’s had a “good” day.  Since we’ve had a lot of issues with him getting his pooh in the potty (whole different story), I am also giving him an extra marble whenever he makes it!

Megan gets 2 marbles a day, although I have rewarded her extra marbles when she has good days of playing nicely with her brother and sister.  She has gotten a lot better with that lately…thank goodness!

I will continue on with the marble system, I just need to find a way to get Anna to succeed more quickly with her marbles.  Since Megan’s marble container is practically full  and Ethan’s is over half full, I don’t want Anna to get discouraged.  For this first time, I may allow something small for Anna at the half way mark.  She has a soft butterfly that she sleeps with, it was a baby toy given to Megan.  When you push the center of the butterfly it’s cheeks light up and it plays the tune of Rock A Bye Baby.  The music is dying on it and the cheeks rarely light up, it does not have a way to change batteries.  I found some newer models of this butterfly and Anna really wants another one…but started sobbing when she thought we were going to get rid of her old one.  :(  I’d love to get her that replacement butterfly for her half way mark.  :)

About the Author

A Mommy blogger who loves working from home while raising her 9-year-old daughter and 5-year-old boy/girl twins with her husband. I have a passion for learning and enjoy anything having to do with the technical side of blogging. I am also always working on self-improvement and being the best mom I can to my children. I am also a bit of a coffee addict! ❤

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  1. I remember the marbles! I’ve had great success with them too over the years, both at home and in the classroom.  Good luck-I think you’re on the right track with your kids.

  2. Sarh Snarski says:

    This is the first I am hearing about the marbles, sounds like a great plan and I may have to try it out with my six year old daughter. She is just very blunt and quite sassy.
    Thank you for sharing! 

  3. Myra Rzepa says:

    great idea!! i think im gunna start and try it out! thanks for the great idea!

  4. Cheryl Greninger says:

    I teach parenting and am certified in two evidenced based parenting programs – IncredibleYears and Triple P. Where I think you are going wrong is taking away marbles for misbehavior. It isn’t good to combine the incentive program with the discipline strategy. What would you do if your child had a negative balance? Try using alternative consequences for misbehavior and the marble jar for when you catch the children being good. I would also put the marble in the jar when you see positive behavior rather than waiting until the end of the day. That reinforces the positive behavior you are wanting. Small consequences such as taking a toy away for 10 minutes if the child isn’t playing the way you want is more effective than harsher consequences. Also, remember to praise the positive behaviors every time you see them. Good luck!!

    • Cheryl,

      That is great information, thank you so much for sharing that with me. It does make sense to not combine incentive with discipline. I had actually started to reward the good behavior immediately. I am always open to advise on parenting techniques! Thank you again!

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