The Back Talk Jar – Kid Friendly and Tough Mother Approved!

“Bundle of joy or not! Mommy does not like backtalk! Now I don’t know if it’s the school playground, after care, or Disney Jr. where you’re learning your new lingo but I really need it to stop!” So went my conversation with my female child, but seriously I was at a loss with what to do because nothing seems to work. Punishment didn’t seem to work because banishing her to her room is where her favorite flashlight, books and pet fish are. It’s a haven of fun in there!

So I decided it was time to get tough! Her father and I had recently decided to formally give her an allowance each week. He bought her a journal where she is to keep track of her funds and she loves it. More importantly, she LOVES the money and she now regularly peruses the toy catalog and picks out all the things she wants to buy (Each month, I gently remind her that she is required to hand over the last week of the month for her savings account – yes, I could ask for it at the beginning of the month but then she’d have all month to go “buy” crazy. I’m going for lessons in patience and positive self denial here).

Then it hit me! An empty jar I ordered on clearance a few years back and discovered under the sink and her allowance! Yes, I was going to charge a fee for backtalk! It’s a backtalk fee! Oh please, if you want real results you have to hit a toy-loving 7-yr old where it hurts – in her sticker decorated piggybank.

So true to our usual routine, I explain the new situation to her – “Sweetie, your father and I (I have to include him for added credibility) are apalled and saddened by the recent backtalking we’ve noticed”. After the typical non-interested blank stare, I busted it out there, “Listen sister, the backtalking is going to stop and for every time I hear it, you will be charged a whole nickel”. She tilts her head slightly and says, “You know mommy, there are five nickels in a Quarter” as she begins singing the “counting by fives segment” of Schoolhouse Rock. Naturally, I commend her, “That’s right honey! But I need you to know that bad behavior will cost you going forward. Are we clear on the terms, a nickel every time?”.  “Yes Mommy”, she says, “every 5 times I talk back will cost me a quarter. Are we done now?”

After reminding her that it’s a nickel per occurence and not a lump sum fee after five times, OH we were done and I’m proud to say I earned my first nickel right away. I’m not ashamed! Children have to learn that there are rules on behavior. Okay, I gave her a grace period since we just started but I’ve been firm since then. In fact, there’s at least a whole quarter in that jar and more to come!

Chat Soon,


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