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How to Work the Reward Jar for Kids

by Heather Montgomery, studioD

According to Nemours, rewarding a child for good behavior will help him learn to make positive choices and can make your life a little easier. Using positive reinforcement can encourage your child to make the choices that lead to a happier home. One of the ways to use positive reinforcement is a reward jar. The reward jar works in several different ways, depending on the needs and desire of your child.


Place two jars on the table. Mason jars, vases and cylindrical storage jars work well for a reward jar. Decorate one jar with stickers, paint or markers to distinguish it as the reward jar. Have your child help with this task to get him excited about using the reward jar system.

Fill the undecorated jar with marbles, and place both the filled jar and decorated jar on a high counter or table within your child’s sight but out of her reach. Marbles may present a choking hazard to young children, and the use of the reward jar should be supervised at all times by an adult.

Discuss the reward jar with your child and outline some of the behaviors that will result in him earning a marble. These behaviors could be sharing, using good manners, cleaning his room, being kind, doing chores or any other behavior you want your child to exhibit.

Explain that she will earn a marble for every good behavior she exhibits, and when the rewards jar is full or has met a certain level, she will get a reward. Some good reward ideas are a new book, a day out with mom or dad or a trip to the park. Let her help you choose the rewards she will earn.

Put a marble into the reward jar or let her place the marble into the reward jar whenever she exhibits a good behavior. You can do small rewards on a daily basis -- which works best for children preschool age and younger -- or larger rewards for a week’s worth of good behavior if your child is older. When the jar is full, empty it and begin the process again.


Decorate a jar with stickers, paint or markers with your child's help to distinguish it as the reward jar.

Fill the reward jar with small toys and trinkets such as toy cars, stickers, jewelry, accessories for a doll and other items you know your child loves. Don't purchase items so small that they might pose a choking hazard for a young child. You can also add strips of paper with rewards written on each strip. Choose activities such as staying up late, reading an extra book at bedtime, picking dinner or a trip to the park.

Discuss the reward jar with your child and outline some of the behaviors that will result in him earning a toy. Explain that each time he exhibits a good behavior, he can pick something from the reward jar.

Items you will need
  •  Clear jar
  •  Stickers
  •  Marker
  •  Glass paint
  •  Paintbrush
  •  Marbles
  •  Small toys


  • You can also remove marbles or toys from the jar when your child misbehaves or makes a bad choice. Make sure to explain the rules when introducing the jar; bad behavior will result in a loss of toys or marbles.

About the Author

Based in Lakeland, FL., Heather Montgomery has been writing a popular celebrity parenting blog and several parenting and relationship articles since 2011. Her work also appears on eHow and Everyday Family and she focuses her writing on topics about parenting, crafts, education and family relationships. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in early education from Fort Hays State University.

Photo Credits

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