Parenting Tip – Pasta Jar Reward System
Around about the same time as I started Odd Day Even Day I used my pasta jar reward system. I had bought so many off the shelf reward charts, star charts and used a multitude of action consequence strategies. Some parents didn’t believe in action and consequence, however for me it is the bed rock of life. You work hard you receive a bonus, you arrive late for work one too many times you get a warning, you drive too fast to work you get a fine, life is very much built on a foundation of actions and consequences.
I started the Pasta Jar Reward System on a Saturday, so my children could walk to Waitrose in Canary Wharf and choose a pocket money toy or go to the park or do whatever their reward was, on the Saturday. You can choose any day that works for you.
We had a jar for each child and a jar to hold the pasta that they would add or subtract pasta from. A pasta sauce jar worked well, with a label with their name on that they can decorate, if they are so inclined. Or as my friend has shown, a marker on the glass jar works really well too.
At the beginning of the week they started with 10 pieces of dry pasta (I bought the bags on the bottom shelf you just need a small bag but sizeable pieces, fusilli was the pasta bag of choice for mine).
Each week we would discuss what was expected of them, it could have been one behaviour that needed work or if they did everything asked first time. They would then decide on the reward, if by the end of the week they had 10 pieces of pasta in the jar, they would enjoy their reward.
My children grew up in London’s Docklands, we had numerous parks to choose from for them to enjoy as their reward. The aim is not to always make it a financial reward (although that can be something to add to the mix) being rewarded with your parents time and a memory is a powerful motivator.
If they cleared their toys away first time, they could add a piece of pasta to their jar. If they took too long to get into the bath (running away, hiding, watching TV and pretending they didn’t hear you for the 3rd time you called them) they would take a piece of pasta out.
I left the jar on the window sill behind the sink in the kitchen, visible but not in their faces and not accessible if they wanted to help themselves, to more pieces!
If they exceeded the number of pieces of pasta say they got to accumulate 20 pieces they choose something big. I dangled a bus ride to Hamleys and a budget of £20 (didn’t buy them much, but was a great budgeting lesson on how much things cost and how much harder they would need to listen if they wanted that £30 box of Lego). The reality is the kids stay within the lower boundaries of just hitting or missing the target of 10, I can only remember 1 case of my daughter hitting the Hamleys target.
There was something about physically putting in and taking out something that really connected with their behaviour, I am sure a psychologist could tell you what the connection is, however for me as a parent and a laymen it really did work.
The pasta jar was a wonderful way to teach them to listen first time between the ages of 4-9. A lot of tears will come when they have to remove the pasta, this journey is one that really did teach them consequences to their actions in the early years. This is a time that you can still work with them and guide them to listening first time.
I hope you fill a jar with pasta for your grandchildren, children, nieces or nephews or any child that visits you regularly. This is for anyone that has to cross the line from being the fun person to being their teacher.
I hope you will enjoy implementing this simple strategy and like me you may never look at a piece of pasta in the same way again!
I will leave with a wonderful saying a neighbour told me ‘How do children spell? Love T-I-M-E!
It is really powerful invest the time in the early stages and the children will be a pleasure to be with in later life.