The Kindness Jar

Posted by Stephanie Whitley on 05/14/2013
by Stephanie Whitley IMG_4159I’m a mommy of four energetic boys ages 6, 7, 10, and 12.  I love being a mom and embrace it fully.  However, some days are just hard and exhausting, especially when the boys are bickering with one another. One morning I was totally frustrated with the squabbling in our home.  I don’t remember the specifics of that day, but I know we were rushing around trying to get ready for school, and the boys were not getting along.  In a home with several siblings, the possibilities are endless.  It could’ve been over the last piece of bacon, a glaring look, unkind words, first dibs on the bathroom, or determining who would get the last pair of Nike socks, etc.  What I do remember is being frustrated --- with how challenging it is to create a squabble-free environment. We had several parenting strategies in place in our home to encourage peacemaking, including the following:
  1.  Encouraging the boys to “build up” instead of “tearing down” with their words
  2. Establishing consistent consequences for stirring up trouble with their brothers
  3. Praying for them to establish common ground with one another and to exhibit gentleness and kindness
  4. Focusing on the “heart issue” of their behaviors by asking one of the following questions:
    • Were you stirring up trouble or promoting peace?”
    • “Were you being a peacemaker or a troublemaker?”
    • “Were your words helpful or hurtful?”
Although we had these strategies in place, they certainly didn’t eliminate all of the quarreling between brothers.  On that particular morning, as I washed the dishes at the kitchen sink, I asked God for wisdom.  That is when He gave me the idea for the “The Kindness Jar.”  Wow, it was a simple idea and I already had the supplies: a mason jar and marbles.  I told the boys we would be looking for acts of kindness throughout the week.  When we saw them being kind to one another we would place a marble in the jar.   There were two stipulations:  1) They could not ask for a marble, 2) They did not get a marble for every act of kindness.  Once their marbles filled the jar, they would all be rewarded. IMG_2682 Here are a few ideas for rewards:
  • A trip out for ice cream
  • A trip out to Starbucks
  • A round of Miniature golf
  • A visit to an indoor trampoline facility
  • A family outing to Dave and Busters
  While my boys, like most siblings, still argue over trivial matters, “The Kindness Jar” helped my hubby and I take note and praise the boys more often for their positive behaviors. It also helped the boys be mindful to encourage each other and act in kindness.  The next time I have a “frustrated mommy moment,” I hope I remember to ask God for wisdom and help.  Hopefully, “The Kindness Jar” will be a great parenting tool for your family. This is one of my favorite verses on kindness to pray over the boys and myself:

“….clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Col 3:12

Stephanie Whitley is a wife and a mom to four boys.  She took the Keepers Study as a young mom and was impacted greatly.  She is passionate about her family and coming alongside other moms in the journey.  She now resides in Phoenix, AZ, but will always be an “Oklahoma girl” at heart. Her life verse is “I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill His purpose for me.”  Ps 57:2

2 Comments

Gena Says:
May 14th, 2013 at 8:13 am
This is such a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

Paige Redwine Says:
May 14th, 2013 at 7:25 pm
Great idea Stephanie! I want to do this. Thank you for writing this!
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