Question

We have been using star charts for each child in the family but they have lost a bit of their momentum. I would love something that motivates our kids to get on better and work together more as this is definitely a point of tension in our family.

Answer

I would suggest introducing the family marble jar. The family marble jar gets everyone on board. Marbles are awarded when anyone in the family does something noble, kind, thoughtful or generous – basically anything that involves working with another member of the family. The purpose is to create team work and togetherness. It is easy to get focused on earning points or recognition for doing something well as an individual. Families can take it to the next level by introducing a marble jar that acknowledges qualities that are seen when siblings work together, negotiating, compromising and showing thoughtfulness and patience.

Encourage things like –

  • Doing the dishes happily together
  • Sharing resources like pens, toys, time or expertise (reward an older brother for helping his younger sister refine her goal shooting technique)
  • Working out a solution to who gets the bathroom first
  • An offer to help a sibling with a project
  • Everyone helping out in the garden raking leaves, weeding, planting and doing lawns
  • A family board game where the winner wins graciously and the losers lose respectfully

As these qualities are seen, marbles are added to the family jar. Older children can be given the task of evaluating themselves and putting the marbles in the jar themselves. Of course, if the opposite type of behaviour is demonstrated, marbles can be removed from the jar. Once the marble jar is full, the family has a ‘party’ to celebrate the joint success.

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