Saturday, January 17, 2009

Using "a carrot and a stick" in teaching your kids to Be Nice


Or rather, "beans and rice".

This is another gem from my very own parents (see Super Kid post).

Do you ever feel like you are always asking your kids to do the same exact things? (put away your shoes, put away your backpack, put away your dirty socks, etc.) Or NOT to do the same exact things?! (please stop chewing with your mouth open, please stop provoking your brother, please stop singing the Thomas song, etc.) Can you tell I have all boys? :)

Do you ever feel sad that your sons don't open the door for you? Or that no one appreciates the okra stew you spent two hours making?

Do you ever wish that you could ask your children to do/not to do something without that sound of barely subdued rage in your voice?

Well, I do. (I actually don't make okra stew, though. That sounds faintly disgusting.)

Mom and Dad also got fed up with this type of repetitiveness in parenting, and devised the following method.


1. Get a bowl of beans (dry pinto beans) and a bowl of white rice

2. Get cute little containers, one for each of your children who are old enough to be expected to obey, and label them with their names.

3. Explain to your little sweethearts that there is a new game you'll be playing every day. And there will be a prize at the end of each day.

4. "Here are the rules: When you do something nice, I will give you a bean. When I ask you to do something and you cheerfully do it, I will give you a bean. When you do something REALLY nice without my asking (like hold the door open for me when I'm Primary President and trying desperately to carry armloads of handouts and my scriptures and your "reverence" stuff into the church without letting your little brother escape back to the parking lot), you get MORE, like maybe even FIVE BEANS.

"When you do something naughty, I give you a rice. When you disobey, I give you a rice (think: then make sure you obey! :).

"For each rice you have, you will lose two of your beans when we count them."

5. At the end of the day (I usually do this after supper, when they're still at the table), I bring over the cute little containers, and we tally up the scores. For each bean, I give the little sweethearts an MnM or a chocolate chip. Some days they don't get any! But usually they get probably around 15-20.

Another way of rewarding with the beans is to let them save up for something. Like, "when you have 50 beans, I'll take you to DQ for a dilly bar." (Or if you prefer something more healthy, "when you have 50 beans, I'll make you your very own pot of okra stew.")

Anyway. It's a great system! Our boys have started racing to the door to open it for me (good thing there are two sets into the church!) :)

DSCF3754 edit

Tweak this any way you would like. . . .whatever works in your family! It's nice to have a ready reward and a ready consequence even for the little things.

Thanks to Wikimedia Commons  for the pix, except the "bean and rice cart" one is my very own.


Alison said...

FANTASTIC idea! I can't wait to try it!! Thanks so much for sharing!!

CJ, the Purple Diva said...

My kids are grown, but I got grand kids!

Kritta22 said...

Thank you for sharing!!

Coming over from CJ's but I'll be back! this site is great!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the ideas. My question is - how do you actually remember to put a bean in when they do something good? I've tried these kind of things before, but I never seem to remember to reward for the good everytime. I wish my kids would remind me (because they want the prize) but they don't seem to remember either! Anyway, if you have any ideas to help us remember to actually use this method - I think the concept is great!

I was wondering too, about the preach my gospel FHE lessons you have posted. I would love a pdf copy. My email address is I am so grateful for these lessons - we're using preach my gospel chap. 3 as a FHE manual this year.

Thank you!

Michelle said...

I keep all the supplies in a tray-type container, on my kitchen counter. Sometimes I make a mental note, but usually I just walk over a do it real quick-like. :)
For a while, we used the honor system and would merely say "Give yourself a bean", but there were abuses of the privilege, and we had to go back to this way.
My parents had us give ourselves the beans and rice. (I guess we were just perfect, trustworthy kids. ha)
Thanks for asking about the PMG lessons! I will try to get you the pdf's soon, as well as catching up on posting the ones we've done since then. . . .

Real Mom, Real Life said...

Great idea!!! Love stuff about this

Vanderbeeks Images said...

I just say Thank You! You are an answer to prayer. I just bought a bag of beans but I really wasn't sure on how to go about this.

Andrea said...

I love that. Thanks for taking to time to write it down. You have smart parents, and you are even smarter for following their great ideas.


This is a great idea! I'm gonna start it asap!! Thanks no wonder you're primary president!! :)

Krysta said...

Thank you for sharing that. It's always nice to get a fresh idea for parenting!

Kelley said...

Fantastic! I've used something similar, but only rewarded for the good instead of doing it for the not-so-good, too. Seems like doing both would be more effective. With three boys I NEED a system like this!

snbjork said...

I think I'm ready to take the plunge and use this system with Alton. He's been so grumpy lately that I think this might help. Especially to be rewarded at the end of each day for all the good deeds! And, I've seen this work so well for you, that I have no doubts. You're so smart. =)