We’ve been using “obedience beads” for about 6 years now and it’s working very well. My girls aren’t perfect of course and they don’t always do what they’re supposed to but the general idea of obedience, doing the work happily and without argument, is getting in their heads one bead at a time. I started this when the girls were about 3 and they could understand one and two step directions.
When I tell them to do something and they do it happily, they get a bead in their jar. If they complain, they get nothing. If they don’t do it right away, if I have to tell them even twice, they get a bead taken away. And if they do something good on their own without me telling them and they get “caught”, they get TWO beads.
I also have them say “yes, mama” (and “yes papa”) but not in dictatorial fashion at all. It’s just a way for them to habitually respond in a positive way, even when they’re not feeling it. This simple verbal act is often enough to remind them to hop to it.
It sounds so sweet too, so they know they get hugs and kisses when they do it! Once, all three girls conspired to say it in unison just to see me get all excited and kissy-face with them. :) I tell them it’s the same as saying “I love you.” So, very often, when I say “I love you” to them, they’ll respond in their sweetest voice, “Yes, Mama.” It’s adorable!
Of course there are those times when they’ll say it with head down and and a bit of a mumble, but in that moment, as they’re saying it, they’re understanding that their disobedience is wrong and they know it without me having to say it.
So what is the point to the beads? They earn things when the jar is full, like trips to the library, museum, maybe ice cream, and the oldest, AJ, earns cash: $1.00 to spend and $1.00 into her savings account. And when all the jars are all full at the same time I take them all someplace fun. This helps them help each other. It’s so nice when I hear M say to Liv, “Come on, Livie, let’s clean our room—-that will make mom happy and we’ll get lots and lots of beads!”
They also buy electronic time with the beads. One bead = 15 minutes of computer, kindle, iphone, TV, etc. The little ones don’t quite understand this yet, but AJ knows that if her jar isn’t filling up it’s because she’s either not doing enough to help out around the house and she asks me for stuff to do, or she’s on the computer too much and needs to cut back.
Variations of this I’ve heard of are using marbles in a jar, or a family friend of ours uses tickets like you get at the fair and they use them like money. What do you do at with your kids?