Do you have kids that whine? Even when you take them on fun outings, they still find something to complain about? I’ve had this challenge lately but I’ve started telling my kids “Happy People Go Happy Places.” We read the Dr. Seuss book, Oh the Places You’ll Go!
It is often read at high school graduations but I think it is very applicable to younger children too. I explained that it is up to them to make wise choices and that by choosing good behavior it makes them happy, it makes Mom happy and we get to go fun places. I refuse to take them places if they are acting wild, rude or misbehaving, so they’ve got to earn it.
The Happy Jar:
I took an old mason jar, wrapped the top with whimsical yarn, printed a picture of the book cover, printed a strip of paper numbered 5-1 and a sign that says “Happy People Go Happy Places.”
You could use this at home or school in the classroom:
During the day, when I notice positive behavior from my children, I tell them what I notice and they earn a happy puffs (I keep the clear jar of them on my desk). A Happy puff is the item they fill the jar with (see below).
Earning Happy Puffs:
If they do a chore (unload dishes, clear the table, take out the trash, fold and put away laundry) or homework, those are expected so they earn 1 puff. If they have positive behavior during chores and homework, they get an extra puff (it pays to be happy :) If they do something kind, or extra chores they weren’t asked to do, they get another puff. I have also started taking away puffs for bad behavior (whining, sassing, defiance, tantrums). Since it is a collective jar, if one child acts up, the other tries to encourage them to act better so they won’t get puffs taken away (they know it will take longer to earn an outing). Outings are a bigger motivator than money for our 5 and 7 year old.
We have a special outing for each number/line on the jar. We use pom-poms or small pony beads (depending on how fast you want them to earn something). I like to use the small beads so I can give them beads for every little thing they do, reinforcing their positive behavior. If you use big puffs, you could make them fill the whole jar to earn one outing.
Here are the ‘Places’ our kids are working toward.
1. Thanksgiving Point’s Museum of Ancient Life – Dinosaurs & More near Lehi, UT
2. Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum in Salt Lake City, UT
3. Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, UT
4. Ride light rail (Trax by UTA) to the Salt Lake City Downtown Library.
5. Swimming at our local recreation center.
So far they are doing great. We just went to the dinosaur museum last week. They were so happy and never complained, they actually said thank you (gasp)! We hope this helps them learn that being happy will take you great places in life, no matter how old you are. My husband has recommended the kids make a happy jar for the parents that they can decide when to award happy puffs to us. I’m still thinking about that idea.
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