Positive Parenting Series · Relationships · Toddler Issues

The Kindness Jar

Today was one of those days, where from the moment I woke up I knew it was going to drag. We didn’t have any plans (which at the moment is never a good thing), I was am exhausted and therefore not on my parenting game, the twins did a lot of bickering, and Baby I decided this evening was the first day he wanted to try cluster feeding/the witching hour. Just one of those days.

I’m not sad to see today leave us in the dust, and look forward to getting out of the house and having a better day tomorrow. However, there was one bright moment in our day today, and that was all thanks to our new “Kindness Jar”.

Before I came home with a new baby, but more so after I did, B & C have been – more challenging than normal. They turn 3 in two weeks, but they’re officially “threenagers” in my eyes. Back talking, arguing, using their selective hearing, pushing each other’s buttons (and ours) and hitting/screaming are just some of the behaviors we’ve been witnessing lately. There’s flat out refusal to ask nicely (“I don’t want to SAY THAT!”) or use any manners whatsoever, there’s disobeying on the regular (“But I just wanted to touch it….”), and there’s screaming. Lots of screaming. C has decided she doesn’t like even her favorite foods, and her palette is limited to fruits, plain pasta, and any junk food she can get her hands on. B has decided he hates our two dogs, and essentially yells at them, or screams like he’s being injured, any time they get even near him.

I knew we’d have some regressions when we brought Baby I home, as we’ve ruffled the flow of what we had going on before. But this has been getting a bit out of hand.

For what it’s worth, because I frequently vent about bad behaviors, they’ve also started thoroughly enjoying each other’s company like never before, and spend a lot of time playing together, without us needing to be nearby. They have begun playing “pretend”. They invent silly, simple games, and play them together again and again.

But even with these nice moments, I’ve not been pleased with the bad behavior, especially towards us and each other. Then I found this link: Kindness Jar¬†– I liked the way it was geared towards young kids, because at first, I didn’t think I could directly teach kindness to preschoolers. Or, I didn’t know how.

So we decided to introduce our own Kindness Jar. Every time one of the twins did something kind, they got to put a pompom in the jar. We agreed early on that when the jar filled up, we’d take a trip to the local ice cream shop. Well, it took about a week. Tucked in between many moments of bad behavior, there were small moments of kindness. B offered a hug to C when she was crying. C brought us things she thought we needed without being asked, like a burp cloth when I was feeding Baby I. There were moments of sharing – again, without being asked. Truthfully, B got to put in almost as many pompoms as C. I liked how I was able to put my attention into these moments – I’m not sure I would’ve caught them if I wasn’t actively looking for them, which is kind of an eye-opening statement.

Today, the jar filled up to the top.

The Kindness Jar

So after nap, we took the short drive to get ice cream. I frequently reminded them, and asked them to tell me, why they were getting ice cream. They knew it was due to being kind.

The Kindness Jar

And even though the day was crappy, it was nice that we were able to have this reward for a week’s worth of kind moments.

The Kindness Jar


*Troubleshooting – I’m not in love with the idea of what feels like bribery, but we never phrased it that way. They are still young enough to be incapable of manipulating the system – they did nice things, we caught those moments, they got to put in a pompom. Today, they got ice cream as a “way to go, good job” sort of thing. We’ve since emptied the jar and we’re starting over!

Also, B sometimes struggled to understand that the kind moments need to come naturally. This was also very hard to explain. One time, after C shared something with him, he said, “I want to do something nice!” And he ran to a random toy and thrust it in C’s face – “Here.” And of course, that’s not going to cut it. The only way I could get around this was by giving him many examples of kind gestures, such as letting C go first or making her feel better when she was sad.

Even with a few bumps in the road, I think they got the gist of the kindness jar this week, and we’ll continue to utilize it. Not only so that the twins can focus on being kind, but so I can focus on catching it.

One thought on “The Kindness Jar

  1. So sweet! Thinks for sharing… It’s hard when you bring a new baby home, and harder still when you feel like the only attention you are giving your first babies is the negative kind. I love our kindness jar for just that reason!

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