Let me start by saying I have a background in education and have been trained in and provide training for extensive behavior programs for students. While I know a thing or two about students, it always seems I become more relaxed at home with my own children. I mean, who wants to do behavior management ALL DAY LONG? So this holiday break I found I was asking my children multiple times to do tasks. So I turned to my teacher brain and thought to myself, “What would I do in a classroom if I was in this situation?”
I remembered an amazing strategy I learned while teaching from the Tough Kid Toolbox
The Yes/No Jar
The concept behind the Yes/No Jar is that if a child or student complies with a request they get a “yes” in the jar. If they chose not to comply the get a “no” in the jar. When a child asks for something, then the jar gets to decide. You simply reach in and pull out a token. If it’s a yes, then they get the request; If it’s a no, they don’t. Easy-peasy, right?
For the yes/no’s you can use paper, poker chips, essentially anything that is two colors and similar in fashion. I used mason jars with each of my children’s names on it with dry erase marker. Reaching into these is pretty hard and I have to tilt them, but I really just wanted to use something that I had in the house so I make it work. I used paper because I was not motivated to go out looking for something fancy over the holiday break. In the classroom something liked colored chips might be a better option as they are more durable.
To set this up we told our children they have 1 minute to comply with the request or a no goes in the jar, if they feel they need more time, they need to ask. We also told them they can’t ask for just anything. Ultimately it is our decision to even consult with the Yes/No Jar. Being as transparent as you can upfront will help with less confusion when you begin to implement this.
So over the holiday break we had some fun family time that resulted from a “yes” being picked- we played a nerf war, our children had pop for dinner, they got a cookie after lunch, they even got to play an extra 20 minutes on our electronic devices. But then a few times our children got “no’s”… one wasn’t able to play a game on the Playstation one day, they did not get the popcorn they asked for as an afternoon snack and they even weren’t able to get out of showering one evening (normally I wouldn’t do this but since it was the holiday break I thought- “what the heck?!”). While I have anecdotal data, our break has become less stressful, and I can feel them being more aware of our requests. Goal achieved! The concept is called behavior momentum. This is the idea that if we can get a child or student on a upward trend of compliance (or any behavior) it will become more automatic and part of their routine.
Somethings to consider:
When considering the stages of learning (acquisition, fluency, maintenance and generalization) this works best for the fluency stage. A child or student must know how to preform the skill. The Yes/No Jar is intended for a child who knows the why and can do what you ask of them- they just need practice doing it.
With all interventions- fading eventually has to happen. This can be done when you feel that a child has moved on to maintenance. I recommend continuing to use behavior specific praise. Make sure when you give a child a yes you verbally relay that you noticed it and appreciate it. For example you might say, “Thank you for making your bed.” This should be done when a “yes” goes in the jar and should continue after the Yes/No Jar is gone.
Again, this is not my idea and I give all credit to Bill Jenson and his wonderful Tough Kid Toolbox!