Truth be told, I’ve been having a little trouble corralling the kiddos lately. Partly because they are 4.5 and 2 years old, and partly because I’ve need to search for my own patience and maybe look at the way I’m communicating (or not) with them. And mostly because I seem to always be in a hurry…

Yes, I admit, I’m not a “perfect” parent, but I’m a good mom! I just needed to find ways to overcome some of my recent challenges. Such as…

Parenting tip #1: Kids don’t care that you’re running late, nor is it usually their faults initially.

As in, not Aiden’s fault that he can’t brush his teeth faster than I can blow dry my hair since MOM is the one who slept late).

Parenting tip #2: Even siblings don’t always get along and sing in harmony while they play.

My bad! I thought brothers and sisters loved each other to pieces all of the time…

Which leads to Parenting tip #3: An abandoned toy isn’t cool enough until another kiddo plays with it.

Then suddenly everything is “mine” and all heck breaks loose.

So how do I solve for these?

Now, judge me if you must, but I saw this on Pinterest (which isn’t something I thought I would ever say) and thought I would give it a shot. A teacher blogged about a visual tool for positive reinforcement using a fishbowl (find her post here) and it clicked with me that I can totally use this idea tailored to our own situation.

I ran to Target on my lunch break to see what supplies I could find (I’m sure a craft store would have been a better deal, but Hobby Lobby doesn’t sell laundry detergent and we were in desperate need, so Target would have to do!).

I found a medium sized glass jar with a lid ($5.49), a pack of puffy stickers ($2.99) and two sheets of clear-type scrapbooking stickers ($.99/ea) and a pack of fuzzy pom-poms in different shapes and sizes ($3.99). For a grand total of $14.45, we now have a visual positive reinforcement tool that the boys are already having so much fun with.


All together at the table, we put the boys’ names on opposite sides of the jar and the words, “Be Good” and “Kind” on the other sides with the alphabet stickers. Then, we let them decorate the rest of the jar with the scrapbook stickers. GREAT teamwork exercise for the boys, by the way!



Aiden saw the pom-poms and immediately asked me if he could have one. I told him that he could earn one by being kind and helpful to his brother, to me and Joel, or a friend, Miss. Sally (his teacher) and even Nana/Papa & Grandma/Grandpa. He chewed on that for a little bit, then immediately went to help Drew find his pacifier ~ without being asked!

Then, I told him that every time he is kind, good, patient, he uses his “listening ears” (so he didn’t have to be asked something twice), if he didn’t talk back or pout (this list goes on, but we focus on a few each day) he could earn a fuzzy that he could put in his jar, like a piggy bank. When it’s full we can “cash-in” the pom-poms for a prize!

At this age, a $1 Hot Wheel from the grocery store is a big deal, so he knows he can earn a Hot Wheel, a small bag of Skittles, a page of stickers, a yo-yo, an eraser, a pencil, a folder, etc…pretty much anything from the $1 bin at Target.

Easy-peasy, right? Sure this could be construed as bribing, but it works!

So now, Aiden tries to get his morning routine done before I do, he’s putting more thought into a game for two so he and Drew can play together rather than a game for 1, and he doesn’t panic when Drew takes interest in a toy Aiden saw first (prevents the snatching and the freak outs and pouts) because he knows no-fuss events earn him a pom-pom for his jar.

And we get to focus on the good stuff rather than the bad stuff.  And wrestling with each other is fun again, not ferocious.

He’s really proud when he gets to put a new pom-pom in his jar. He had a sleepover at Papa & Nana’s this weekend and I sent him with one for his pocket with the instructions that if Nana didn’t have to take it away (if he was naughty) he could put it in his jar when he got home. At the end of the weekend, he still had it and was so proud of himself when he got to add it to his jar.

Being a parent is one big adventure without a real instruction manual and no kid is wired the same. I wasn’t even sure this would work for Aiden and Drew, but it does work for them and it does work in our house. If you decide try this, or a variation of this, with your munchkins, let me know how it goes!

Keep the faith, keep encouraging goodness and keep the focus on the positive. Amen.