After getting into a solid routine for the school year, it’s certainly a shock to the system when summer vacation comes and the kids are home…all day, every day. With summer vacation in full swing, I knew that I’d need a little help motivating them to stay on track with good behavior.
I found some inspiration on , which led me to Hot Mess Princess’s blog post ‘Motivational Marbles Project.’ She had two jars to inspire weight loss–'pounds to go' and 'pounds lost.' When she lost a pound, it moved from ‘pounds to go’ to ‘pounds lost’ for a very visual in-your-face inspiration.
I decided to apply this concept to working with the kids on their behavior.
How It Works
I made a jar for each of the three oldest kids–11, 7 and 5–and had a fourth jar that I filled with little pompom balls. The 1 ½-year-old is obviously not involved in this project (though his behavior could certainly use some positive motivation!).
We split the day into three parts–morning, quiet time (when little guy is sleeping and they have the choice of read, write or rest) and afternoon/bedtime. For each part of the day they have good behavior, they get a pompom. If there is fighting, whining, etc., they get a warning that there will be no pompom if they keep it up. If it continues or gets out of control, then a pompom is taken away.
And why do they want pompoms? Because they can earn PomPom Prizes! We came up with a chart with some rewards so they can use their pompoms to ‘buy’ privileges or treats. For example: watch a TV show is 3 pompoms, have a sleepover is 10, get $10 in cash is 30.
Does It Work?
I wasn’t sure how it would work, but let me tell you, these kids are motivated. They are always quick to make sure I’ve put their pompoms in their jars and they get so excited as they start to fill up.
Since they all helped make the list of prizes, they all had their eye on certain ones. My 5-year-old loves TV so her pompoms are constantly rotating into the jar for good behavior and out of her jar for movies or shows. My 7-year-old counted those pompoms every day and was beyond excited when he got to 30 and got $10. My 11-year-old thought it was awesome when she got to pick what we had for dinner and is saving up more to go out to eat (that’s like a prize for me, too!).
Not only has our little pompom system helped keep behavior in line, but I’ve seen other benefits, too. They’re working with adding and subtracting (how many more do I need until I have 30 if I have 18?) and they’re learning to make smart decisions (if I ever want $10, I can’t use them for other things).
We also have a few prizes starred, which means they can pool their pompoms for the prize if they want to. I’ve heard them having lengthy discussions over the merit of how to split the ‘cost’ and whether it was worth it or not.
Plus, many of the ‘prizes’ are things they would normally ask to do (over and over and over again), but now that they’re prizes, they don’t spend the day asking if they can watch a show; they earn it!