Home Parenting TipsReward and Consequence System How to Get Kids to Behave Better (Even if You’re Lenient)

How to Get Kids to Behave Better (Even if You’re Lenient)

by Ivy B

Are your kids unruly or incorrigible? Here are two simple steps to improve behavior with consequence and reward jars. Perfect, even if you don’t see yourself as the disciplinarian.

I had hoped my daughter’s behavior would improve with age, but I’m realizing I’m in for some trouble.  Instead, I needed to devise a way (or ways) to improve behavior.

Turning 5 was bound to be especially difficult.  4 was enough to make me want to drink, pull my hair out, or just walk away.  We began to experience more arguments and tantrums unlike any we’d ever seen.  She’d forgotten her manners.

I was seeing behaviors that reminded me of myself as a teenager.

If I didn’t do something about her behavior right away, things were going to get bad!  I was already considering boarding school.  Do they have those for Kindergartners?

Improve behavior with consequence and reward jars. These behavior jars will help you get your kids to behave better in no time www.sahmplus.com

Seeking a Solution to Improve Behavior

Though we tried a responsibility chart, I realized this didn’t offer any behavior reinforcement, and certainly did nothing to help improve behavior.

So, I scoured the internet for ideas to fill the gap.  I came across so many resources and advice to help improve our child’s behavior.   The two systems I liked most included:

  1. The Consequence Jar.  This jar is filled with numerous consequences, which she receives for not following house rules.
  2. The Reward Jar.  The premise behind this system is that when your child does a good deed or says something nice, he or she receives a reward ball.
Use this system to improve a child’s behavior #parenting #behavior #kids Share on X

Implementing the Consequence and Reward Jar Systems

Hubby and I spent some time learning about each system individually.  We discussed what we did and didn’t like about each system.  Then, we determined our plan of action, in hopes of improving her behavior.  We were combining the two systems to work hand-in-hand.

Additionally, a list of house rules was essential to implement the system.

If even one consequence was pulled from the jar, S would not be receive a reward puff for the day.

Apart from receiving a reward ball for being on her best behavior for the day, we added a bonus.  She could earn one extra reward ball if she went above and beyond what was expected of her.  Being extra kind or on exceptionally good behavior on important errands could earn her an extra reward ball for the day.

improve behavior with consequence and reward jars

How to Implement the System

Let me be clear that setting up a consequence and reward jar system isn’t for the faint of heart or those who have the inability to follow through.

Follow through is imperative.

If you’d like, I suggest also reading about how to get the best results from a consequence jar.  That post will give you a more in-depth idea of how to make it work for you.

Decide on house rules.

Ensure you and your partner agree on the house rules.  You both need to be on the same page.

Come up with a list of consequences.

What chores or consequences do you want your children to have?  I compiled a few ideas from several bloggers.  My apologies to those who I borrowed from and didn’t save to be able to link to.

Decide what rewards you want to offer.

Hubby and I determined that an activity out of the home (zoo, water park, Adventure Landing, etc) was preferable over purchasing toys.  She earns money with the responsibility chart to buy toys/games/books (and half is saved), so she’s over-stocked on stuff.

Our reward system is comprised of two jars – one with craft puffs to transfer into a reward jar.  When all reward balls (puffs, marbles, etc) have been emptied into the reward jar, it’s time for your child to select their reward.

Explain to your child(ren) what is expected of them.  Go over the house rules as a family.  Then, explain that broken rules = pulling a consequence.  In order to improve behavior, your children need to know what is expected of them.

Be prepared to tweak the system.

I ended up taking the warning consequences out of the jar.  Since no reward was given for the day if a consequence was pulled, I found it worked in my favor to give a verbal warning, instead.  This gave my daughter the chance to adjust her attitude without pulling a consequence and losing the reward for the day.

Want to save yourself some time?  Subscribe to my newsletter, and I’ll send you a FREE download of our house rules and consequence jar ideas.

Results of Consequence/Reward Jar system

Adjusting to the new system was challenging for a few days.  I had to remind myself to stay calm during problem moments, and immediately resort to the consequence jar.  She needed to learn, fast, that bad behavior was going to result in all sorts of consequences.

Plus, I was hoping she’d pull one of the ones that required an extra chore around the house.  I mean, shouldn’t I benefit from this, too?

When it comes down to it, I believe this was just the system we needed to help improve behavior around here.

Do you want to know what I learned from this experience in the first week?

Click here to read my follow up post.

Improve your child's behavior with this simple and highly effective system | www.sahmplus.com

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My child doesn’t listen.  What can I do?

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Herchel Scruggs August 8, 2016 - 5:42 pm

Mine are a little older. We have a weird point system. 1 point is 1 dollar and -1 point is a week of no video games or electronics. They can earn points with extra chores and when they are not in the negative they earn money. It’s so complicated but it has been working for us!

Ivy B August 8, 2016 - 10:10 pm

Sounds a bit complicated. Hey, whatever works right? Nothing is ever one size fits all, and I certainly didn’t feel like either jar on its own was going to fix our problems. I’m pretty sure I made the right choice by combining them. The near-immediate results have been amazing.
And for me, I like that she’s monetarily rewarded for her doing her chores, and should she choose not to do them, she chooses not to earn money.

Chloé of Beyond Blessed August 17, 2016 - 10:55 am

This is awesome! I did something similar in the classroom when I taught third grade, but we did it as group clusters! What a great idea for indidviduals!

Joan Merrell August 17, 2016 - 4:20 pm

I really like this idea! A very creative way to encourage kids to learn about consequences to their actions. How is it working? I would love to hear a follow up! Great idea, and I applaud you. 🙂

Ivy B August 17, 2016 - 4:34 pm

I am currently working on the follow-up piece. Briefly though, it was a success from the beginning and a we’re roughly on month 2 and behavior has improved so much that she never gets a consequence. There’s a little more to it than that … but I’ll save it for my article.

Nicolle August 17, 2016 - 6:05 pm

This is a great method! I really like that you tweaked it to suit your family. I am a great believer in teaching my children to consider the positive and/or negative consequences that are attached to their actions.

Ivy B August 17, 2016 - 9:34 pm

I hadn’t realized I was going to need to do that in such a concrete display. Fortunately, I’m adaptable and knew whatever we were doing wasn’t working. This has worked wonders. Of course, I’ll probably be lost when the baby gets to this stage LOL

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Hannah September 8, 2016 - 10:58 am

This is a great idea! My kids are just reaching that point where they would understand this system so I might have to go buy some jars and reward puffs 🙂

Ivy B September 8, 2016 - 11:53 am

I reused jars I had from things like spaghetti sauce or artichokes. Then again, that’s why none of the jars match 😉
Good luck. If you decide to use it, let me know how it goes!!

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Mel October 27, 2016 - 12:47 am

So what do you do if they refuse to complete a consequence. What’s the backup plan ?

Ivy B October 27, 2016 - 8:28 am

Hi Mel,
I dealt with this briefly at first, so I have little experience with this. What I did was to let my daughter know that if she didn’t do it, she could grab another consequence. That was enough to stop her objection to one. When she was refusing to pull the consequence slip, I offered to pull it for her. For some reason it was more scary if I pulled it. ?

I might suggest taking a reward ball (assuming they have been earned), limiting it to maybe 3.

If my child still refuses at that point I would immediately implement one of the consequences that takes something away from her AND means the most to her, like no Xbox for the night, and be done with the situation.

I believe the key to this is taking swift action and limiting you interaction with a single problem.

Good luck. I’d love to hear how you make this system work for you ?

Mel October 27, 2016 - 4:02 pm

Thanks so much. That’s so helpful! I had thought maybe to put him in time out with a sensory bottle as the timer until he agreed to a consequence, but I think your ideas are swifter. I don’t want it dragging out, potentially exacerbating the situation too much. We re planning on sitting down with him today to agree on some consequences and get the ball rolling.

Ivy B October 27, 2016 - 8:10 pm

I really hope this works for you!

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Kim @ Mom On Duty February 16, 2017 - 12:15 am

Thank you for this, Ivy! I have a four year old and five year old. I honestly thought we’re out of our bad days after they surpassed the terrible twos, but I agree, it’s worse – and it reminds me of my teenage years! I am definitely going to try this out with the kids!

Ivy B February 16, 2017 - 11:30 am

I’m laughing out loud here! I absolutely see a teenager in my 5 year old. Good luck with the jars. Don’t forget to let me know how it goes for you!

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malika November 15, 2017 - 6:58 am

I think we should know behavior preferences.According to that we can change our behavior by knowing various personality.

Jessica Clawson August 13, 2019 - 1:16 pm

This sounds like a great idea! I just have a question about the jars. You have a consequence jar, whochakes sense, a rewards jar for good behavior, then an empty me jar. What is the emptye jar for, when did you do the rewards from the rewards jar? Thank you for the idea!

Ivy B August 13, 2019 - 9:49 pm

You start with the reward balls IN the “Empty Me” jar and transfer them to the reward jar individually. Once the reward jar is full (and the “empty me” jar is empty) that’s when the child receives their reward.
We set ours up to take roughly a month to earn the reward. I think the amount of time though depends greatly on your child’s age … younger children aren’t often able to wait for benefits that long.

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