In a desperate attempt to coerce Aiden to behave, I decided to create a marble jar reward system for Aiden. I know, this is a hair's breadth away from flat bribery, but I've got to have some sort of system to get him to listen--he doesn't seem to be too motivated by the fact that good behavior is the "right thing to do." This also gives me some leverage when we're in public and away from Aiden's time-out rug, the "naughty spot" ("If you don't stop that, I'm taking a marble out of your jar when we get home!") and allows me to reward Aiden when he is particularly good. I used a plain glass vase, some ribbon and let Aiden pick out stickers to decorate it with and voila', the "narble" jar (as Aiden calls it) was born.
When Aiden collects enough marbles to cross the ribbon fill line, he gets a special treat--some sort of family outing where he gets spoiled for an evening. I takes 56 marbles to fill the jar, so he gets a special outing every 2-3 weeks if he's a good boy. We sit down together and pick out the special treat before he starts out. He's gotten wise and now tries to negotiate for marbles--"If I eat all my breakfast, I get a narble? If I pick up my toys, I get a narble? How about three narbles? Four?"--but Brad and I try to take a more "we'll see" approach and side-step the haggling.
Surprisingly, the system works well. He gets marbles for getting dressed by himself in the morning and putting his PJ's away; for getting undressed and putting his clothes in the hamper at night; if he helps to clean up without being asked, he gets even more marbles. If he shows unusually good manners or goes above and beyond what I expect of him, he gets extras. For bad behavior, he gets a warning and then loses marbles if he doesn't correct the behavior. It was a lifesaver in getting him to go to bed without a battle--if he goes to bed and doesn't get up to ask for drinks, etc., he gets 4 marbles, a major incentive. He opens the door one time--no marbles. He gets up again, we start taking marbles out. Of course, he's tried to get around it by lying about needing to go potty, so now we have a "if you actually poop, OK, but if I don't see anything in the toilet, you lose double the marbles for lying" policy. (Now he goes to bed without ever getting up on most nights).
For his introduction to the jar, I wanted him to get to the finish line quickly, so he wouldn't get bored and lose interest. The first go-round, he filled his jar in about 10 days. He was ecstatic when he crossed the line and got to go on his special night--he bragged to anyone and everyone about his good fortune.
The first outing to Planet Pizza, a pizza-games-kiddie rides venue that he's never been to, was pretty fun. EXPENSIVE, but fun. We spent over 60 bucks for a large pizza, drinks, an all-you-can-ride bracelet for the kiddie coasters/rides, and 40 tokens. The pizza was surprisingly good, the kiddie coasters were a lot of fun for Aiden, but over half of the games were broken and the prizes they had when you traded in your tickets were some of the lamest I'd ever seen. The place is a bit run-down looking, with horribly scuffed linoleum floors, dim lighting, and out-of-date games. But Aiden didn't care. He had a blast that evening.
The second outing was to Adventure Landing. It took Aiden 2 1/2 weeks to fill the jar this time. We played a round of mini-golf and then went inside to play a ton of games. A cheaper outing AND way better entertainment for all of us. I think we spent $20 bucks--$15 in tokens and $5 for golf (they have coupons on their website for buy-one get-one free and they offer a military discount). Aiden was quite excited to hear that he won at mini-golf--we told him that since he had the highest score he was the winner (I know, we'll only get to pull that one over on him for a few years). He then went inside, won a ton of tickets, and walked out with some Fun-Dip candy and a tube of body glitter (yes, that's the prize he picked out!). Isn't it amazing what $15 dollars in game tokens can buy?!
Today Aiden "crossed the line" for the third time. This time he gets to go see a movie--he hasn't yet decided whether he wants to see Wall-E or Kung Fu Panda (I'm voting on Wall-E). He also gets his own popcorn and gets to stop at Walgreens and pick out a box of candy (I LOVE the movie theater boxes of candy at Walgreens and Dollar Tree!). It should be a fun outing--Aiden LOVES to go to the "movie fee-dee-er."