It took approximately 20 minutes of our first day of summer for me to realize I needed a plan. It’s one thing when your children are spending a couple hours together after school before the family winds down for bed. It’s another thing when they have an endless amount of idle time together at home during the summer months. It’s messy. It’s arguing. It’s loud. It’s “I’m bored.” It’s exhausting. From what I’ve heard from my friends with children, we’re not alone.
After a couple days of discussing the behaviors that I was witnessing in our house with my husband, my teacher brain decided we needed a plan. Insert …
The Kindness Jar
Here are the Kindness Jar specifics that my husband and I came up with after talking through what we wanted to accomplish:
-You can earn a fuzzy ball (aka pom pom) for the Kindness Jar by being kind. Being kind can look like many things: being nice to your brother or anyone else, picking up after yourself, listening the first time you’re asking to do something, sharing toys, etc.
-You cannot ASK to get a fuzzy, Mom and Dad will let you know if you’ve earned one.
-When the jar is filled up, you get to choose an adventure for our family to go on together.
-After we go on the adventure, we empty the jar and start over.
If you’re thinking about implementing your own Kindness Jar, or something like it, I have a couple tips before you get started:
- Make a list with your children of behaviors that will help them to get fuzzies. Our list is fairly simple because my children are 2 and 4, but older kids can have more specific things on the list. If your children have chores, make that a part of the plan. I also love the idea of having the children make a list of things that they can do for other people, like walking the neighbor’s dog or helping their grandparent with a task.
- Make a list with your children of places that you can go together once the jar is full (i.e. children’s museum, splash pad, the movies, neighborhood pool, a park, indoor jump place, library, etc.) As a teacher, I encourage rewards to be quality time together doing something that the child enjoys. Whenever possible, try to stay away from toy or candy rewards and make a memory instead.
- Be generous when you start the Kindness Jar. Your children need to see how it works and get the reward in order to be motivated to keep going.
- My children are young, so we went with the large fuzzy balls. This goes along with the tip about being generous, you want the goal to be attainable for them. As summer goes on, you could transition to the medium size balls to make it a bit more challenging.
- Let them physically put the fuzzies in the jar when they earn it, so it’s a tangible cause and effect. Make a big deal about so they feel excited about earning it!
- Anytime you implement a plan with your children, it’s important to discuss the WHY part with them. For example, you may explain to you children that they have chores because you are a family and everyone needs to take part in taking care of your home. With the Kindness Jar, we explained the importance of the behaviors that we were looking for and talked about how our behaviors affect those around us.