How to Get Your Kid to Stop Doing That

by | Oct 13, 2015 | Mailbag, Parenting With Authority | 35 comments

Mailbag questions sometimes come in waves around here, and recently I’ve gotten a slew of them on the same topic: How to get your kid to stop a certain entrenched behavior. Hitting, fighting, throwing tantrums, refusing to go to school in the morning, and screaming . . . MANY of you are wondering about screaming, especially in the car.

It’s maddening, I know. Your buttons are being pushed. It seems impossible to manage because of how emotionally charged the situation already is. And if you’re in the car, what are you supposed to do? Stop the car and have it out every time? Get ear plugs and just hope he’ll grow out of it?

Well, I do have some ideas for you, that have worked for us.

It’s basically behavior modification, right? Your kid has a habit, a way he’s become used to reacting in a particular situation. In the moment, it’s not really a mindful thing he’s doing. He just does it. He’s mad, so he hits. She’s worried, so she throws a fit. They’re happy or sad or angry or excited or hungry or Tuesday so they scream and scream and SCREAM.

The details will vary significantly depending on the age of the child, but my basic technique is:

1. I call attention to the behavior (privately if possible) and explain why it’s not appropriate.
2. I give them a warning and let them know what the consequence will be if they do it again.
3. I follow through with my threat if necessary. 

So, to a screaming one and a half year old, I’d say: “No, no screaming. Please use words or ask for help. If you scream again you will go sit in your crib.” 

Then EVERY TIME she screams, I follow through and put her in her crib. After all, Cryin’ Babies Go to Bed.

To a sassy middle schooler year old, I’d say: “That tone of voice is rude and it’s not an acceptable way to speak to your mother. If you speak to me in that tone again, you’ll have to go sit in your room/write an essay on the 4th commandment/scrub out the trash cans/etc.”

Standard Always Mean What You Say-type stuff. Age appropriate expectations, consistent application of consequences. Calm but firm. It works really well.

Except when it doesn’t. What if you didn’t start always meaning what you say until kinda recently and the kids aren’t quite sold on it? What if you’ve tried giving them consequences but it seems like it’s still happening all the time? Or the whole problem is that they’re not complying with punishments! What then?

Then, it’s time to pull out the big guns. Or, rather, the bean jars.

We have had a lot of success with our Lenten Bean Jar and Straw for Baby Jesus during Advent. It’s a huge motivator for my kids. It’s a set time period, so they don’t get bored with it or forget about it.

I’ve had success using the same technique to change a particular habit over a set period of time in a particular kid, or in all of them at once.

They key aspects are:

1.  To really call attention to the particular habit (or habits) you are trying to break, use the bean jar for those behaviors ONLY. Kids being kids, they’ll do other things wrong (and right), but the bean jar is just for that habit.
2. Start by taking away beans for bad behavior. Eventually switch over to rewarding beans for good behavior.
3. Keep the bean jar system in use for a finite amount of time.

Here are a few individual situations, from the mailbag.

How to get your kid to stop . . . hitting and screaming and refusing punishments.


My three year old’s very first reaction to
something he doesn’t like or to something that makes him upset is to
hit. Like, a millisecond after I tell him no, he is hitting. I have
tried just calmly taking him to his room and telling him he can come out
when he is ready to apologize and be gentle, but more often than not he
runs out right away, before he is calm. Basically, unlike with my 1
year old there is nowhere I can put him where he will actually stay long
enough to calm down. He also screams at the top of his lungs when he is
angry, and nothing will stop him. Not crying, just screaming. We are
always talking to him about gentle hands, being kind and using our
words, and not hitting, or screaming, but I don’t know what to do to
actually get rid of this behavior. He is a very sweet boy, super
loving…but I can’t be a punching bag for when he’s mad.


I was JUST talking about this with some friends
today. Everyone warns you about two year olds, but it’s THREE year olds
that are hardest for me. Two year olds are just looking for boundaries.
You give them the boundaries, everything is cool. But three year olds
are ALL super emotional. Which is hard. And it sounds like your little
guy has particularly wild emotions. And that’s harder.

But since your issue is behavioral AND emotional, it’s not enough to just wait it out until he’s four or five.

I really recommend a book called How to Really Love your Angry Child.
It looks like it’s out of print and therefore expensive. I’d still try
to find it, maybe used, maybe at the library? I would send you my copy,
but I must have lent it out to someone else, because it’s not on my
shelf. It’s a great resource for understanding how things escalate with
this kind of kid. (I have two of this kind of kid.)

practically, you need to get him to believe that you mean what you say,
without it escalating too badly. I would try sitting him down at a time
when he is calm and saying: We are going to work on three things, 1. not
hitting, 2. not screaming, 3. staying in your room when mommy sends you
to your room.

To modify his behavior, I would try a bean jar system.
I’d start with a number of beans in a jar that’s a little less than the
number of times he hits/screams/runs for it each day. So, ten, twenty,
whatever. Then, each time he does one of those three behaviors, a bean
goes from the good jar to the naughty jar. He should see you calmly move
the bean over, ONLY for these three infractions, not other misbehaviors
not on the list. You tie an immediate, daily reward to the jar system.
If there is ONE bean left at the end of the day he gets dessert or an
hour of screen time or whatever would motivate him. If no beans are
left, he doesn’t get the reward. Either way, after whenever the prize
would be given, (in the afternoon for screens, or after dinner for a
treat, or whatever you choose) all the beans go back in the good jar and
it starts over for the next day. Each time he gets the reward, I would
put one less bean back in the good jar. Then, ideally, you’ll get down
to maybe only two or three beans.

THEN, I’d try to figure
out how to switch it from bad behavior moving the beans, to good
behavior moving the beans. And HE gets to be the one to move them. Maybe
something like every hour that he doesn’t break one of the three rules,
he gets to put a bean in the good jar, and once he fills up the jar
there’s a big reward, like going to the movies or Chuck E Cheese or
getting a new toy he wants. Then, ideally, the bad habits are broken and
he’s more in control of his emotions, and the bean system can be

I hope it would work. We’ve had a lot of success short term with the bean jar. It’s really motivational for my kids.

How to get your kids to stop . . . fighting at mealtimes.


We decided when our oldest child was 2, that family meals were a
big deal in our family culture. It’s the only meal of the day that our
entire family shares and we enjoy talking about our days and catching
up. We explained the rules, we’ve applied them consistently, older kids
modeled good behavior, and behavior expectations are age appropriate.
Basically, everyone has to sit, everyone gets a chance to share, you may
choose to eat or not but you must drink you milk and sit quietly. 
not entirely sure what happened, but this summer things have completely
spiraled out of control. My husband and I spend the entire dinner
telling children to get back in their chairs, sit on their bottoms,
stop kicking people, stop shouting, stop fighting etc. I tried sending
them to eat by themselves in the kitchen as a punishment, but we ended
up with enough kids in there that is was more of a party. We sent kids
to their rooms and to bed. We even tried having a family meeting on the
topic. Of late, dinner has devolved into a shouting grudge match that makes us all sad.


Ugh. That sounds really frustrating. And you’ve already tried all my go to stuff!

I’d say that for us, family meals are always a work in progress. There
are always going to be set backs and frustrations. There will be
bickering over seats, and spilled milk, and elbows on the table. No
matter how much we try to prevent it. And we try REALLY hard. But, it’s
important enough to us and to our family culture that we’re willing to
keep at it. We’re willing to endure the frustrations because there are
also joys: family togetherness, conversation, shared jokes, a general
understanding of table manners, etc.

I’ve never yet been
able to find the concoction of rules that makes dinnertime perfect, it’s
just still worth doing even if it’s not perfect.

But it sounds like your dinners have devolved to the point where they’re not liveable.

you’ve already tried stuff that usually works well in these situations,
like removing kids from the table, sending them to bed, and having a
family meeting . . . we’re down to the bottom of my bag of tricks, which
is always: the bean jar. It’s what we do during Lent (and in Advent
with straw for baby Jesus). My kids find it very motivational, and I
think it works well over a short period of time to snap kids out of
particular bad habits by bringing attention to them.

I’d make a list in writing of rules and expectations for family dinner
behavior, and put it in the middle of the table along with two jars,
one empty, and one with thirty (or whatever the correct number would be)
beans, or buttons, or nails, or paper clips or whatever. I’d say that
for the next two weeks, or month (or whatever period of time you think
is best) we’re going to work on table manners, and pleasant family dinners. Transgressions against the list means you move a bean to the other jar. At the end of dinner,
you count up the good beans left. For the first three days, 15 beans
left gets the whole family a reward, like dessert or screentime or
family game night. Each three days after that five more beans are
required to get the reward, until you get up to 25. I wouldn’t expect

You can customize it, of course, starting with
more or fewer beans, allowing good behaviors to move beans back to the
starting jar, etc.

Having a family goal, and a reward to
work towards, just for a set amount of time hopefully will help. Then,
ideally, long term, you can get back to pleasant family dinners without a crutch or rewards.

Follow-up Question:

I just wanted to check in and let you know the bean jar is
going great! We’ve had dessert 3 nights this week- including last night
when I decreased the number of beans allowed.

Any tips for how long we should continue with the beans and/or how to move away from using them?

Thanks again, I can’t tell you how this small gesture has improved the atmosphere of our meals and the rest of the evening.

Follow-up Answer:

I’m so glad to hear it!

I would probably pick an upcoming feast day and have a little family party that day, and be done with the bean jar.
I’d also announce that any slipping back into old habits will be
rewarded with opportunities to write essays, or copy lines out of an
inspirational book. I like this one: George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation

How to get your kid to stop . . . screaming in the car.


How would you handle a three year old who screams in the car, all the time? I’ve tried stopping the car and telling her we can’t go until she stops, but then she just does it again later.


That’s tough. Tough because she’s three, which is very emotional and
screamy to begin with, and because you’re stuck in the car and
disciplining is hard in the car. I might try a behavior modification system, like the bean jar we do during Lent. But JUST for screaming in the car. I’d explain that screaming in the car is not
allowed, and we are going to really focus on remembering not to scream
in the car. So I’d have one jar with beans in it (or beads or whatever)
about one bean per screaming incident per day, and one empty jar. Then
every time she screams in the car, you move one bean from the good jar to the naughty jar. Calmly, making she she can see it. But not crashing the car.

you could make a ribbon to stretch between the seats or the sun visors
or something, so you could slide a bead from the good side to the
naughty side? And not be fumbling with jars? 
she usually screams five times a day, if all five beads get moved, then
she doesn’t get a reward at the end of the day. But if there’s even one
bead left, she gets dessert after dinner, or screen time, or a single
m&m, or whatever is going to be motivational.
that’s working, after a week or two, you move to a positive reward
system, where every time you have a car ride where she does NOT scream,
SHE gets to move a bead over, then once MANY beads are moved over (twenty or thirty or fifty) she gets a BIG reward, like a trip to the movies or a toy she wants.
THEN, hopefully you can be done with it, and can get away with just
verbal reminders. 

How to get your kid to stop . . . refusing homeschool.


We have started the homeschooling year and let’s just say that it looks
different than I expected and I have been forced to adjust my
expectations to meet my five year old where he is at. Its going okay, but he is
SO stubborn. He seems lazy and unmotivated (I am hoping it’s just
perception!) and really only wants to play and go out and do things (like museums, parks, beach, etc.) or watch a show/video games. He wakes
up wanting to know what we are doing today and wants to know the plan
for the next day. It can be exhausting. Our school time is very short and
I don’t think it is too much to ask for him to be able to sit and do
15-20 minutes worth of work before he can do something “fun”. Have you ever
had a kid that has to be incentivized at every turn? If I want him to
sit and listen to me read/practice handwriting/numbers he needs to have
the “carrot dangling in front of him” so to speak…. Is this normal to be
so externally motivated? Is it okay to have rewards for everything? Its
so frustrating!


Oh yes, I have experience with it! I have a kid who is always wanting to know what’s in it for him before he’ll do anything. Part of me thinks, “Well, humans mostly require external motivation to do things they don’t want to do. My husband wouldn’t go to work if they didn’t pay him to do it.” But on the other hand, “Good gracious, child! I don’t have to reward you for every little thing. Your REWARD is not being an idiot. You’re welcome.”

The thing that ended up working well for us was having very clear expectations. Eventually we got to the point where I had exact rules for daily school expectations printed out, framed, and sitting on his desk in front of him. (I called it The System.) I also had our weekly calendar out, in writing on the kitchen counter. That way, he was less inclined to feel that things were unfair, or to come up with things he wanted to do, then be furious when it turned out that was never a possibility.

If he met his expectations for the day, AND we didn’t have other family obligations, I did reward him with screen time. It was something he could count on, if he held up his end of the bargain, and it gave me a daily something with which to threaten him. And I required, not JUST that the work be accomplished, but that it be accomplished with a good attitude.

So, 1. clear, age-appropriate expectations for his behavior and what he needs to get done. 2. access to the weekly schedule and an understanding of when he’ll have to/get to do what (with the understanding that sometimes plans change). 3. consistent rewards that he can earn by accomplishment AND attitude.

I would think that 30-45 minutes or so of direct instruction per day, plus a little activity or project is the most most boys can handle. I would probably offer 30 minutes of screen time for a GOOD 45 minutes to a hour of school work. If you need something tangible, you could do a bean jar system, where he’s got 30 beans in there for 30 minutes of screen time and any infraction against The System gets one bean moved to the naughty jar. When school’s done, however many beans are left in the good jar, that’s how many minutes of screen time he gets that day.

Sooo . . . many different issues, one potential solution: The Bean Jar. I hope it works for you!

Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, nor am I an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church. (You’re thinking of this guy.)
If you read anything on this blog that is contrary to Church teaching,
please consider it my error (and let me know!). I’m not a doctor or an
expert on anything in particular. I’m just one person with a lot of
experience parenting little kids and a desire to share my joy in
marriage, mothering, and my faith.

If you’ve got a question,
please send it along to catholicallyear @ gmail . com . Please let me
know if you prefer that I change your name if I use your question on the


  1. Melissa Caskey

    I never got to respond to your email but since you posted my question here I just have to say thank you so much for all your wisdom. It is so so appreciated. I will be revisiting this post often 🙂

  2. cat

    Have you ever had a problem with a kiddo falling asleep when they get put in the crib for being naughty? I used the crying babies go to bed method with my older kids, and it worked really well. My youngest is 1 1/2, and about 75% of the time she ends up catnapping a bit if she gets put in the crib. And she is the type where a 3 minute nap anywhere, anytime means no 2 hour nap for the rest of the day (car seat naps kill me). I'd love to hear any suggestions, she's a big hitter and I haven't found any other methods that work at this age…

    • Kendra

      Catnaps are the worst.

      It might not work if you have a lot of commitments outside the house, but for us, if someone falls asleep in a timeout, I figure they really need it, and I don't wake them up. I figure that's got to be most of the reason they ended up in the timeout to begin with, being overtired.

      If that's not possible with my schedule, I'd leave the door open during the timeout and check on her a lot.

    • Kel24

      Hi Kendra,

      You answered a lot of my questions! What about a playpen on the main floor of house, would that work as well as the crib? We have 3 floors so I don't want to have to go up to the upper level from the basement every time someone is hitting or screaming! And what about the step for the kiddos vs the room as long as it's consistent? Started the bean jar today! Thank you so much!

    • Kendra

      Yes, definitely. A pack and play is great for littlest kids, and we switch to the corner one they can reliably stay put.

  3. Anonymous

    About the kid who screams in the car: I'm sure the letter writer has already thought of this, but is the car the only place the kid screams that way? Is there maybe something about the car that upsets her and screaming is the only way she can communicate it? I ask because I've had horrific motion sickness my entire life and even as an adult, it makes me feel like screaming. If it's motion sickness, try rolling down a window and see if that helps.

  4. Amanda

    "Your reward is not being an idiot. You're welcome." Perfect.

    I love this! I'm going to keep it in mind for their major issues. But what do you do if one kid is getting a reward for not being as naughty and the other kids have just been normal? I'm leaning towards everyone gets a reward…

    • Kendra

      Absolutely. That creates a lot of camaraderie amongst the kids.

    • Amanda

      Oh my gosh, yes, we totally need a printable of that….with like a picture of a brain or something. I'd hang that in my homeschool room for sure, haha!

    • Schafergal (Ashley)

      Oh! Yes please to the printable!! I laughed out loud so hard at "Your reward is not being an idiot. You're welcome." My husband side eyed me.

  5. Anna

    We have a rewards/chore chart (reward for getting to the top, extra tasks for going down) and it works beautifully. We get the bean jar out for Lent but since the reward is so far out there and is shared it has not been as effective long term as the reward chart. But we still do it, the kids love it that first week anyhow.

  6. Mrs. Smith

    Kendra, you give such good witness to all of us less experienced mothers. I was a thankful recipient of email advice from you awhile ago, and it really helped our situation. I'm thankful every day for your blog! Bless you!

  7. Kristen McKenry

    I love it! I'll have to give this bean jar thing a try. Just out of curiosity, how many bean jars have you had going at once with 8 children in the house?

    • Kendra

      We do the group one each year during Lent and Advent, and other than that I've just used it sporadically for one kid at a time. Usually for school-related stuff.

    • Kel24


      The jar worked well today. Would you suggest in my case dealing with a lot of the same behaviors from a 6.5, 5 and 3.5 year old to do a group jar so they encourage better behavior from one another as we did today OR at their ages individual jars? Again thank you so much!

    • Kendra

      I'd do a group jar, and see if that works. It usually encourages the kids to remind each other and support each other. And I generally like them being on "team kid."

  8. Elizabeth

    I really like this post and agree. We've had a car screamer. He nearly caused an accident once with horrific screaming (when his water bottle fell, so drama not a real need). We did talk it over and there was some scrubbing of the kitchen floor. I'm all for a good "hard work" consequences.
    Kendra (and anyone else who wants to weigh in), what's your take on spanking as a consequence? Not trying to start drama by asking. ..

    • Kendra

      Thanks Elizabeth! We do spank in our family, mostly for things that fall into the "dangerous or destructive" category. I find it to be quick, effective, and non-traumatic. I explain more about our philosophy on it in this post: How to be the Boss of a One Year Old

    • Elizabeth

      I just read it. Absolutely agree. It was hard for me to sort out my position on spanking especially because it *seemed mean*, but I am blessed to have several friends with children ahead of ours in age and they all pretty much take the same position you do. My friend (mom of nine wonderful kids) says two things I love:nip bad behavior in the bud. It's a lot easier than trying to break a bad habit later. And two, the truly mean thing is to allow your children to grow up to be selfish or badly behaved. They're not happy and they make the people around them miserable, too.
      Also I look at our few friends who are loving parents but more inconsistent, and I don't judge or try not to, but they just seem exhausted most of the time. It seems like a vicious cycle of being too worn down to act vs react and then you're stuck with behavior that wears you down.

  9. Amanda

    We do a very similar thing to the bean jar. It's the "Ticket System" and I think I got the idea from John Rosemond? Anyway, when I was dealing with a particular habit (arguing) with my son that he just couldn't seem to stop I implemented a few things simultaneously. First, I got on his side and was all "I know you've been trying to do better and have been having a hard time stopping arguing so I'm going to help." We chose a silent way I could signal him (shoulder tap) to his bad behavior as a warning. Then I made a sheet of paper explaining the rule and ripped it so it had 5 tickets hanging off the bottom, numbered 1-5 that I could tear off. I'd take one off every time there was an infraction. If he lost all 5 tickets he'd go to his room for the rest of the day. Eventually we went down to 3 tickets and then phased it out. I like the idea of doing it the opposite way with a reward too, I'll need to try that soon!

    Any ideas for what to do with a 4 year old boy who just can't seem to help but choose bad things and never chooses the same bad things but comes up with new ones 24/7? For example, climbing the dressers, hanging off the bunk beds, cutting his own hair, sneaking food, coloring on walls, humming annoying songs, stealing siblings' toys, or any other crazy idea that pops into his head. You'd think he's doing this for attention except he's a total introvert who loves playing alone….he just doesn't make good choices when playing alone, lol! Actually, even when he's with me he's constantly trying to get into stuff. It's like a compulsion, and he's been like this pretty much since birth. At 10 months, before he could even walk, he had climbed on the dollhouse roof and was happily bouncing up and down on top of it….

    • Kendra

      Have you considered selling him to the circus? That's about all that's left in my bag of tricks for dealing with almost four year old Frankie. ;0)

      I think some kids are just wired for mischief, ya know? And Frankie is an introvert, too. Sometimes I think he gets himself into trouble just to get sent to his room for some alone time. He also spends a lot of quality time outside with the chickens. (The "with the chickens" part is his choice.)

      Mostly what I do is . . .
      1. Not give up on him. In the face of such constant disobedience, it's easy to be tempted to just give up on a kid and let him be a menace, but I don't want to do that. We're going to civilize him, some how. If I have to stop him from doing something twenty different naughty things twenty times a day, so be it.
      2. Not take it personally. I think it's important to remind yourself that you're not a bad mom if you have an especially naughty kid. And he's not a bad person. He just doesn't have a temperament that happens to care much what other people think. That can be very liberating. But it's also something that he needs to learn how to compensate for. (Ask me how I know.)
      3. Find the good in him. Frankie is exasperating and exhausting, but he's also hilarious and spunky and lovable. I try to find things I can praise him for and things I can do with him that he likes. He's still going to spend a significant percentage of his day in trouble, but at least there will have been SOME nice things too.

      Also, I really recommend that book I link to in one of the questions above, How to Really Love Your Angry Child. I don't know why it's called that, it should be called "Intense Child" or something, because I don't think they have to be angry to be difficult. But I think it gives a great framework for understanding this kind of kid.

    • Melissa Caskey

      Amen to not taking it personally. That is something I am just recently learning and it is a game changer. It's not my fault my kid is misbehaving….and he's not doing it TO me. Mind blown by that one, because I think I tend to react as if all the bad behavior is a direct result of something I have / haven't done, or a reaction to something that I'm not doing right as a parent (that may be true sometimes, but certainly not every single time my three year old make a not so good choice. I think one of the things I've learned from reading all your parenting posts that has really resonated is that I don't have to "join in" on the drama created by my toddlers, I can remain with them and engaged with them without it altering my mood too much or ruining my day. That's why I am loving the bean jar so far

    • Kati

      Kendra I really like your comment #2 about a temperament that doesn't care what others think, and how liberating it is. One of my children has a temperament like mine (which cares quite a very bit TOO MUCH about what others think), and one of them definitively doesn't. The cares a lot temperament is much easier to parent – that child is very upset by disappointing us. But the cares a lot temperament that made me easier to parent is what tortures me more than anything else in my emotional life as a adult. I'm constantly trying to not care so much what others think! So, all of this is a long way of saying, the temperament that is harder to parent might turn out to be better for adulthood – if, as you said, it can be compensated for in the right situations.

    • Amanda

      I'll have to check out that book sometime! My firstborn is more one I'd characterize as intense but honestly all of my kids are kinda intense. I like to pretend it's because they're just smart and smart kids are intense but they might just be buttheads 😉 (said in the most endearing way possible of course)

      It's so true about the temperament! I've been telling my husband for years that the best and worst thing about Peter is that he just doesn't care what other people think. On the one hand it's hard for me to motivate him to behave, but on the other hand I never worry about peer pressure. Any trouble Peter gets into is totally his own. It's a good thing he's my second born and not my firstborn or I probably would take his behavior personally. Because he's squashed between two well-behaved siblings and quite frankly I was too tired from pregnancies these past 4 years I haven't taken his behavior too seriously, haha!

      As much as he drives me nuts and perplexes me, Peter is the color to our family quilt. He is the right-brained, lovable, sweet, mischievous kid right in the middle. And because he's an introvert, I often have my husband take the other kids but opt to leave Peter home with me. Then he and I will sit and quietly read/play next to each other (but not 'with' each other). It's great, haha!

      The comment on getting in trouble purposely to get alone time intrigues me. I'm gonna watch him and see if that is maybe part of it. Our current living situation is cramped to say the least (3 kids, one bedroom and a poorly laid out 1400 square feet for 7 people + 4 cats) and so I wonder if he's feeling a lack of personal space or personal time.

    • Amanda

      Oh, and if all of this doesn't work maybe he and Frankie can take their show on the road with the circus….Surely they could come up with some act involving chickens 😉

  10. blythe

    Ha!!! I have your book! And I need to read it, too, because… Mary. Do you think bean jars would work on a 7 yo?

    • Elizabeth

      We do ours during Lent, got the idea from a family that does it with kids all the way up to high school age. Our beans turn into Jelly Belly beans, but they have jars for different ages and I think the older kids get something other than candy. . Maybe a gift card or money toward something they're saving for. ..

    • Elizabeth

      We do ours during Lent, got the idea from a family that does it with kids all the way up to high school age. Our beans turn into Jelly Belly beans, but they have jars for different ages and I think the older kids get something other than candy. . Maybe a gift card or money toward something they're saving for. ..

    • Kendra

      I think seven is a GREAT age for a bean jar. Seven year olds (and Mary in particular) seem to be pretty industrious if there's something in it for them. And the nice thing is that it's something concrete and calm that YOU can do to show that a behavior isn't appropriate. You don't have to escalate and yell more and more and come up with wilder and wilder threats and consequences. It's just: "click" another bean in the naughty jar. And then once it's under control, you get to praise her for doing well and she can see the fruits of trying to do better.

      Or maybe she's just contrary enough to let the whole thing slide off of her. But it's worth a try!

      And do read the book. If nothing else it will convince you that her temperament isn't your fault. And that's nice.

    • blythe

      Oh good. I will read the book stat. Things have been pretty tricky over here lately with ms passion. So, here's a question. What if one of the bean jar rules was, say, go to your room when you're told. And she doesn't, and so I move a bean. And she just stands there and berates me for how stupid I am and how she doesn't care about beans and how she'll do what she wants (just using allll the fun examples we have over here) etc. do you just move one bean for the behavior? Do you move a bean every minute until the behavior subsides and the listening begins? Do you climb into the bean jar to hide away from said child? What are you thoughts on extreme defiance? So you say I need to read the book, huh?? 😉

    • Kendra

      I'm so sorry. That really, really stinks.

      I guess, technically, it would depend on what the discussed Bean Jar Infractions were. I'd probably do one for the disobedience and one for the rudeness. But I would try not to engage further.

      When Jack and I were having personality clashes last year, Jim completely took over the parenting of Jack. Like, if I was mad, I did not engage. I called Jim and explained the situation and passed Jack the phone. If Jim wasn't available, I separated us and waited for Jim to be available. Then, I always followed through with explaining the situation and letting Jim address it, even if it had been a while and I was mostly over it.

      So, yes to the hiding, I guess.

      That book and Dr. Ray's Discipline That Lasts a Lifetime are both really good.

  11. Pomeline

    The more I reflect on my childhood, the more I wonder "HOW DID MY PARENTS DO IT?!". I had a lot of friends who were disciplined with reward systems, but I never was. Maybe it was my temperament, but whenever I was told not to do something, we just didn't. My mom comes from a family of 15 children so I think she absorbed super powers from my grandmother or something XD but seriously, I'm pretty stubborn. Maybe I just don't remember being a pain? I need to ask my parents next call home what their trick was.

    I'm not even married/don't have children, but I LOVE these posts of yours. They help my control freak side feel a little more prepared to hopefully one day live out a vocation as a wife/mother 🙂

  12. Kendra

    Thanks Pomeline! I think the key might be having a lot of kids. My younger kids now very often just do what they're told without any complicated parenting techniques at all, just because we finally figured out what we were doing by the fourth kid or so.The big kids now listen to us, so the younger kids listen. I think it might have been a less bumpy road in earlier generations because kids would have seen cousins and neighbors and schoolmates doing what they're told. But mostly kids today do NOT see that. 🙂

  13. Dixie

    So say you are doing the bean jar to curb yelling. What happens on a day when all the beans have been moved before the end of the day, but the kid is still yelling? You've already taken away the "prize" and no longer have beans to move until the day starts over again. Do you go back to other punishments? Do you count the offense as more serious (i.e. use bigger punishments)?


  1. The Catholic Mom Bundle Lent 2019 - Catholic All Year - […] for resetting habits around here. I’ve got a post on how it can be used for Lent here, and…

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

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