- We have an “end of the day” Big Diamond. While I understand the point of working toward a larger goal, my kids being five and three need more instant gratification. So, if they earn (instead of lose) gems all day then they get a big that looks like the Hope Diamond (hence the name) to add to their jar.
- They can lose gems. I know, I know I’m supposed to keep it positive but even though I spend most of the time ‘catching’ them doing good things, there are times where I (and our babysitter) need some sort of threat to stop the bad behaviors that still creep in from time to time. It seemed odd to have time outs and not have it affect the gem count. So, since we tied in the end of the day Big Diamond it works well to lose a gem if you hit your brother with a stick-repeatedly, even after you’ve been warned.
- The kids almost never lose gems. Just the threat of it has been enough to almost CEASE behaviors we were seeing a lot of earlier in the summer. They are working so hard at being good that the instances of trouble are few and far between. But, as kids are kids, there are times where I have to say, “oh no let’s not lose a gem” and it straightens them right up. Now I just have to get their dad behind it. He takes gems pretty quickly!
- We have an “extra good” gem. This actually happened accidentally. The kids picked out a few bags of marbles at the dollar store that were huge. They wanted them so much that I got them and decided to use them when they do something huge like clean the entire toy room themselves (yes, The Middle One did that). They are also given out if someone might not earn the Big Diamond because of early morning yuckiness, but really had a great afternoon/evening.
The best part of this whole experiment, besides of course the drastic shift in behavior (mine included), is that the kids are not only motivated, but really aware. They are on the lookout for each other’s good behavior. Because they can’t ask for a gem, they spend a good deal of time rewarding one another. At the end of the day, we reflect to help decide whether they get an extra-good, Big Diamond or just a regular gem for bed time routines. They have been incredibly honest and sometimes even too hard on themselves! My revisions may not make it perfect in the eyes of behaviorists. But the adaptations I made work for us. I am very proud of how the kids have risen to this challenge and I for one can’t wait until they earn that trip to the movies.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.