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A Positive Parenting Program: The Jar of Consequences

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Would you like to learn how to change your child's behavior without yelling, threatening and pleading? Could you get excited about having less stress while raising your children? Do you keep trying the same things over and over expecting different results? Do you want to try something different but haven't got a lot of time? Then the Jar of Consequences may be just what you need. 

The Jar of Consequences is a positive parenting approach that is based on the premise that behaviors are governed by their consequences. The concept is nothing new. Parents have routinely used the principles of reinforcement to change their children's behaviors. However, too often parents tend to focus only on their children's negative behaviors. The Jar of Consequences is designed to help parents, not only consequence negative behaviors, but reward positive behaviors as well. You will be amazed at how learning to shift your focus so that you recognize the good things your children do, changes your relationship with them. This program works best with children who are 5 years of age or older. 

What you will need to construct your own Jar of Consequences: 

Find a large glass jar like the ones they poor scented candles into that have a lid. It will need to have a large enough opening so a child can easily reach their hand into it to pull out a slip of paper. Then get two different colored sheets of card stock paper. Say for instance a tan sheet and a red sheet. Then cut each sheet into ½ inch by 4 inch strips. On one color of the strips of card stock you will write positive consequences that your children will find rewarding and on the other color you will write negative consequences. Fold each of the strips up to conceal what is written on them and place them in the jar. It is okay to have more than one of the same consequence in the jar especially if it is a very motivating positive consequence.

Some suggestions for positive consequences might include the following: 

Stay up 30 minutes past bedtime - Add your favorite treat to the grocery list - Have a friend sleep over this week - Story at bedtime - Pick what we have for dinner a night this week - Have a friend over after school - Choose what we watch on TV one night - Day pass at the swimming pool - Sleep at Grandpa/Grandma's house - Thirty minutes of computer time - Play video came with Dad - Rent a movie - Get French fries with Dad

TV in your room until bedtime - Play a game with Mom - Pick out a movie for the weekend - Play catch with Dad - Ice cream with Mom - One item from the snack drawer - Trip to the local park or library - Go for a bike ride with Mom - Purchase your favorite drink - Pancakes for breakfast - Play hide and seek with Mom and Dad - Thirty minutes of phone time - Mom and Dad clean your room - Mom or Dad eat lunch with you at school - Remove one chore from your chore chart. 

Some suggestions for negative consequences could include: 

Dust the family room - Organize your closet - Sweep out the garage - Clean out inside of refrigerator - Take out trash and replace liners - Wash, dry and fold towels and put away - Do dishes after next meal - Bring in firewood this week - Pick up trash and toys around the yard - Clean windows in two rooms - Wash the car - Clean toilets - Vacuum the stairs - Pick up and vacuum the family room - Sweep the porch or deck - Sweep and mop kitchen floor - Clean a bathroom of Mom's choice - Wipe out inside of kitchen cabinets - Set the table for dinner all week - Clean the microwave inside and out - Clean under all couch cushions - Scrub a bathtub or shower - Wipe down base board in kitchen/dining room - Clean kitchen and bathroom sinks - Organize games and videos - Fix dinner one night this week and clean up - Vacuum family car

 What does using a Jar of Consequences look like? 

How does this sound? "You know Jason, I really appreciate how you were home on time today without me having to call all over town for you. That is what I call being responsible. Why don't you go and grab you a consequence out of the Jar. Make sure it is a tan one though. Come back so I can see what it is when you open it.” 

Compare that to, "Jason this is the second time you have been late this week! I am sick and tired of having to chase you around town to get you home on time. That's it! You are grounded for a week." Who is feeling good about their relationship at this point? Nobody! Jason's anger for what he sees as unfair gets directed back toward his parent (the punisher). Which in turn, could cause more problems in future. Doesn't it seem that Jason's parent is just responding out of anger? However, if they had had an upfront agreement with Jason that they were going to work on this problem, then he most likely would have been more accepting of the consequence if he messed up. That is what the Jar will do for you. That is, it forces parents and their children to create up front agreements regarding the behaviors they want to see improve.

When Jason does mess up, it may sound more like this, "late again pal, it must be really hard for you to keep track of time. You know what this means. You need to go to the Jar and pick a red one. Hope it's not too hard. Let's go see how you fair." How can Jason argue with that? Doesn't it sound like his parent is on his side and it is his behavior that got him the consequence? 

The Jar of Consequences is a parenting tool which will reacquaint them with the principles of reinforcement as it pertains to shaping their children's behaviors.

 Place the Jar of Consequences some place where your children can easily see it. Its mere presence may produce a positive effect in your home environment.  

What the Jar of Consequences can do for your family 

  • Reduce conflict and tension in your home & increase your children's cooperation.
  • A fun and effective way to increase your children's positive behaviors while decreasing misbehavior.
  • The Jar takes the hassle out of having to come up with consequences on the spot.
  • Puts something constructive in place rather than just a "flavor of the month" parenting approach.
  • Helps you be seen as less punitive by your children but more fair.
  • Improves parent/child relationships.
  • Helps children own their behaviors and parents to be consistent.

Instructions on how to use The Jar of Consequences are available here.


Example Jar of Consequences

Jar of Consequences


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