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modifying behavior in children preventing temper tantrums in threenagers and beyond

Calming a Threenager – The Magic of the Token System!

We have all been there, guys! Your child turns 3, and they immediately become a threenager! Temper tantrums. The cries. The whines. It all comes flooding in once they realize they have a voice. A LOUD, voice for that matter. Lately, I have been struggling A LOT with getting my son Jax to take direction without a fight. So today we want to discuss a parenting technique that’s great for encouraging good behavior in children and preventing temper tantrums through all the ages and stages!

How to Modify Behavior in Children with the Token System

I have always looked up to my sister Katie for how she parents. She is always super patient with her kids. And get this…they LISTEN to her.

Crazy concept, right?

Nope…she has just always known the right way to discipline her children when they aren’t behaving well.

The Token System

Years ago, my sister created a really great way to not only get her kids to behave the right way, but to get them to do their chores with less whining and push back. She also decreased the amount of screen time they were getting!

Sounds like a win-win, right?

I now introduce you to… “The TOKEN system” – The best system ever created, in my opinion.

How It Works (Katie’s Tips)

1. At the beginning of the school week, every Monday morning, give your kids 10 tokens for the week.

{1 token equals 30 minutes of screen time OR $.50 cents}

2. Take a large clear bin or bowl and fill it with tokens!

My tip…get the kids involved. If you go to an arts and crafts store and get plain wooden tokens, the kids can paint them, color them, cover them with stickers! It will make it more fun for them to pick their tokens each week.

3. Throughout the week, your kids can exchange their tokens for specifically allotted screen time, OR they can choose to save their tokens.

4. When the week is over that Sunday evening, even if they don’t have any tokens left, take inventory. The kids can either exchange their remaining tokens for the monetary value, or they can keep saving for the next week. My kids love building up their stash for a bigger cash out!

Bonus: They also can GAIN more tokens if they do something AMAZING like helping out mom or dad with chores.

There are so many possibilities!

HUGE KEY TIP HERE: Whatever your biggest issue, make that the focus to gain extra tokens!

For me, it would be the morning time and getting ready for school. If Jax can go the whole morning without crying and throwing a tantrum, he will get a token for behaving the right way!

Remember: You can also get tokens taken away! Reserve it for BAD situations like fighting, bad words, hitting, or not doing homework.

The Lessons Learned

This whole process shows kids how to earn something, how to pay for something they want, and also helps to decrease screen time, which can be extremely harmful if they are addicted!

Is a token really worth watching a 30-minute show? They will decide if it’s worth it to them. If they don’t want to use their tokens, they can find something to do that doesn’t involve an iPad or phone, which is a huge bonus, guys!

An Alternative Method – The Pom Pom Jar

Using a pom pom jar is another option if you think your child won’t respond as well to the token system. We have been using the pom pom system at home, and it has been working so well! All you need is a mason jar and some colored pom poms.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Every day your child has the opportunity to earn 2-3 pom poms. I cap it at 3, so its not excessive. Also, we can highlight only the best behaviors.
  2. When your child does something amazing, like share with their baby brother (try to choose things that they need positive reinforcement on), you let them pick a pom pom to add to their jar.
  3. Once the jar is full, your kiddo gets to pick a prize!

When we started the pom pom system, I let Jax write out a list of prizes that he would want if he fills his entire jar to the top. Things he lists are sleep overs with cousins, mini golf outing with dad and mom, alone time with a parent, toy from Target, etc.

You can choose what motivates your child the most!

I can’t tell you how helpful this has been at not only school but home, too! Creating a surprise treasure chest for when the pom pom jar is full is also a great idea. Kids love a good surprise!

Key Tip: I never take pom poms away, as I think that defeats the purpose. The whole point is to focus on rewarding good behavior in children! I wanted this to be a positive experience with nothing negative about it. There are plenty of days where he doesn’t get any pom poms at all, and that is okay.

Final Thoughts on Changing Behavior in Children with the Token System

When we’ve talked about this token system the last few years, we received so much great feedback. We are excited to share the process again. It really works, and your kids will love it!

xo, Carrie and Katie

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