By Debbie Wilkins

I am a fabulous decent mom. I had four boys exit my body in four years and that will forever be my trophy.

That said, kids are tough to keep in line, aren’t they? They whine, they complain, they spill. After an afternoon of willfull defiance, exteme disobedience, and blatant disregard for me and my title of Queen of the Castle, I am ready to:

– React in anger.
– Scream, from my diaphragm (this way I don’t lose my voice).
– Undo any and all damage myself (spray the pee off the back deck, flip the recliner right side up, pick up toys, you get my drift).
– Give a blue-ribbon worthy lecture (it goes something like, “What in the world is WRONG with you?!”).

Can you relate? Please, please say yes. Tell me I’m not the only mother who has visions of boarding school and overflowing cups of wine.

I have one tangible, concrete, effective way of getting your kids to make their bed, end that tantrum, and say “yes ma’m.” I am like an infomercial, so get ready! And, sidenote, this was not my idea…I absolutely stole it from a magazine years ago.

STEP 1: Get a container. I use a glass mason jar. One per kid. Decorate it all you want. I don’t have time, creativity or daughters so I write their names on them and I’m done. Go buy some marbles.

STEP 2: Sit down with your crew, when things are pleasant, and explain you are starting a new REWARDS system! Ooooh Aaaahhhh! Tell them you want to reward their good behaviors often and you will give them a marble (or whatever amount you decide) for every “good” thing they do. For my princes, that means: helping Mom without being asked, doing something kind for a brother, getting a compliment from an adult, putting on shoes the first time they are asked, etc etc.

Then inform them you will also be removing a marble for each unwise decision they make. We follow the rule of “you choose to sin, you choose to suffer.” That means a marble (or more) is taken out if you hit a brother, pee into a watergun, yell at Mom, etc etc.

Then get ready for a rapid gunfire of questions. It’s your house, your rules, so make it your own.

STEP 3: Practice so they grasp how this fun game works. Then start immediately. It’s great for little ones who don’t understand numbers yet. And they all get SUPER pumped when they near the top of the container. For my kids, once you fill the jar, you get a trip to, wait for it, THE dollar store. Oh boy! You may want to spare your sanity and just have an at-home treasure chest of fun prizes to save yourself the agony of shopping in public.

STEP 4: Reward often AND Discipline often. Any time your kids obey, let them see you deposit a marble and congratulate them. When they purposefully break a house rule, walk them to the jar and have them take one out of their container. It’s like a constant math lesson. I do have a friend who uses quarters instead of marbles and at the end of the week each child gets the amount of money in their jar. The key is to STAY CONSISTENT and matter-of-fact. There’s no “bartering” allowed. YOU are in charge.

STEP 5: Pat yourself on the job for being a great mom who’s raising responsible kids who are motivated to act like ladies and gentlemen!

Your turn! Let us know how this system (or others) may work for your family!