Penny Jars

One of the things Mark and I have noticed lately is that our children have been struggling to obey "right away, all the way, and with a happy heart".

Here's a for-instance: Our older three will be playing in the living room, and Mark and I will be in the kitchen. We will say, "Okay, it's almost dinnertime. Please come in and set the table."

What we expect: three cheerful children to show up in the kitchen, and get to work setting the table.

What we're getting: nothing.

Okay, that's not entirely true. Sometimes one of them Ella will head in to help.

Or one of them will come, but reluctantly, or with a disappointed-to-be-asked-to-leave-their-play sigh.

But more often than not, lately it seems as if I'm/we're speaking and they are simply not paying attention. Which means I am continually having to repeat an instruction, and that leads to exasperation and frustration on my part.

Recently I was reading through the comments section of this post, and one of the comments there gave an idea, which we have since implemented.

Here's the idea:

Penny jars. We've told our kids that each time we ask them to do something and they respond with a cheerful and willing "Okay, mommy!" and then obey right away, all the way, and cheerfully, they can put a penny in their jar.

So far, so good.

I have three cheerful children, absolutely motivated to get pennies in their respective jars. And hopefully re-learning the habit of cheerful obedience in the process.

And I am thankful to be able to spend my days looking for ways to reward them, rather than getting cranky with them.

Plus: think of all the fun we'll have learning about money when it comes time to change out their pennies for nickels, dimes, and quarters!

He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded.
Proverbs 13:13


  1. Stacy--you are a brilliant mum.
    Great idea!!

  2. Great idea. I think I'll try this too, because that first paragraph totally describes life around here these days too. Way too many sighs and slowbediences. Thanks!

  3. Great idea! I'm going to use it myself!

  4. this is a fabulous twist to the jar thing. We have 2 jars. One is for name calling. 1 quarter goes in if you call a name. It's quite simply a fantastic motivator! (but...sadly we have like $6.00 in there...whoops)

    We also do the reward system where a sibling can NOMINATE a brother or sister to get money in their good behavior jar. It's a nice way to get the sibs thinking of each other. That one we've used for 5 months. At the end of the month the kid with the most money earns $5.00. It's been fun. This month there's hardly any money in each of their jars, so I think it's run its course, but it was fun while it lasted.

  5. Fantastic Stacy! I loved that idea too! Making positive patterns is so important.

    Blessings to you!

  6. Me too! Absolutely implementing...thank you for the idea Stacy! you think its just summer? Or partially because of summer? My kids are having so much fun, but routine (and things that we have trained) are totally flying out the window...

  7. Great idea!! I will try that with Hannah, I think. ;-) Macy might need quarters or paper bills to keep her motivated!!

  8. I can't believe I didn't comment on this. I thought I did!

    Anyway, I love it.

    We did something similar with jelly beans in & out of a jar. They started with 5 & had to take one out for slow obedience etc. At the end of the day if still had 5 you got a bonus one. They loved & it worked for a season.

    I like the idea of using $. There are so few times they get to handle $.

    How is it going? Are you seeing improvement?

  9. i love how creatively and thoughtfully you are parenting here, stacy. i wish i had focused on a little more cheerfulness when my kids were little. we really need a "reset" button so that after we get a little smarter we can redo that first part. :)

    you are such a good mommy. what a beautiful home you must have...full of loving hearts.

    love you.

  10. My friend does beads in a jar, and then when the jar is full, the child gets a special time somewhere out w/ mommy or daddy. I like this version, too.


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