Do you find it challenging to motivate your children to accomplish tasks, chores, homework or any other request or expectation? Trust me you are not alone. Until you have succeeded in imparting these household virtues onto your children so that they become intrinsic, which may take a very long time; you might consider utilizing some type of reward system. There have been many versions of reward systems throughout the years all with varying degrees of success.

The system I am about to describe has been fairly successful for at least younger aged children (4-12 yrs old). Once the teen years hit your guess is as good as mine. Hopefully by that time you have successfully instilled the core values and life skills necessary to live a happy and successful life.

This reward system is called The Marble Jar and is very straightforward. The decisions that have to be made are: What size of container will you use to store the marbles earned? What size marbles will you use? How many marbles will be earned for a successful task? And what type of reward will be given when the jar or container is full?

To get off to the best start possible be sure to include your child in these decisions. As with any successful project it is best to get the buy-in of the participants. I have used Gatorade containers and typical larger jars with standard size marbles. You may want to purchase some new varieties of marbles to add a little zest to the process.

Determining the amount of marbles to be earned for various tasks can get tricky depending on precedents you set so start off small. For example, each day that your children clean their room they will receive five marbles, each spelling word they get correct in practice and/or on a test they get one marble. I have given 20 marbles for every book our child reads. If the book is more difficult than normal I may capriciously allow them to put in 30 or 40 marbles. You may offer them some quantity of marbles if they try a new food. The possibilities are endless. When the jar gets close to getting full typically the child will be looking for ways to earn marbles.

Now it is time for the reward for filling the jar. This could be either an individual reward such as a toy, a movie, etc… or it could be somewhat of a family reward like going to a movie of the child’s choosing or going to some other activity of the child’s choosing like roller skating. You can either precisely predetermine the reward or have some options that the child can choose upon completion. I remember one time my child wanted a big reward although I cannot recall what it was. We decided that he needed to fill four marble jars to get the reward. It took about three months but he did it and he was happily rewarded for some good old-fashioned hard work.

Motivating children can be a delicate matter and it takes patience and persistence to achieve the outcome you desire. Whether you use The Marble Jar method or some other type of approach never forget that the ultimate goal is to develop long-term positive habits that your children will need to live a good life. As Aristotle stated, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

Author's Bio: 

Mike McCall is a former Naval Officer and the founder of How To Live A Good Life and Virtuous Children, personal improvement companies offering information and services dedicated to helping people live interesting, fun, meaningful and good lives and whose mission is to help improve the world we live in by raising awareness of moral behavior and improving the quality of life of our subscribers through writings such as our weekly blog, monthly newsletter, our own books and self-development courses along with recommended books and programs by other authors. Visit or to find out more.