When Ben (my husband) was around four years old, Maxine was losing her mind. Ben whined. It was legendary, according to not only her, but all of those who knew Ben. Alisha, Ben’s aunt, still recalls it with annoyance.
“When it was raining outside…..he would whine, ‘I wanted to go outside to play and now it’s raining.’
When it was all rainbows and sunshine, he would whine again, “I wanted to wear my raincoat, but now it’s not raining.”
Get the drift? It grates my nerves just thinking about it.
Then, Ben had children….our children. There are four of them. All benefitted from his mother Maxine’s “bean jar” method of extinguishing this same annoying behavior.
It’s a token economy–with a twist.
Here’s how it works:
* Use a baby food jar or other very small container. (If you use a larger one, use proportionately sized objects to fill it.)
* Buy some big beans (Lima, not split peas)
* Decide on a reward for the child when the jar is full. “Full” means you can’t put one more bean into it or it spills over. This serves as a visual reminder. Small children have trouble with counting to high numbers.
For two of my kids, the reward was a remote control car. Ben was a boy in the late 60s. He wanted purple pants for his reward. Fancy ones. His favorite color is still purple. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.
* The first 1/2 of the day, for every 30 minutes that they DO NOT exhibit the undesirable behavior, they get a bean in the jar. In essence, they are rewarded for the desired behavior. Continue this for the first full day if needed. I have modified this approach by using larger objects in a larger vessel, like poker chips in a small bowl. Since you want them to be successful from the get-go, it’s important to start with small increments of time in the beginning.
* Extend the time in larger and larger increments, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 2, 3…6 etc. until you start seeing them have success.
* When the jar is full, give them the reward.
* Start another jar if neccessary.
This method may help extinguish any undesirable behavior. It can be used for everything from whining to picking their nose in public.
Bless you as you try and rid the world of one whining child at a time. You will be loved and admired by many.
As I am writing this, I am contemplating doing it again for my teenagers. This time I think I might try to get rid of the sibling arguing.
Pray for me. And my kids.
Also, there may be a sudden market shortage of Lima Beans at grocery stores around the country.