Mom's 'Jar of Pain' Discipline System Charges Kids Where It Hurts: Their Allowances

A mom's new twist on a classic discipline technique is going viral.

Girls putting coins in savings jar
Photo: Getty Images

When yelling or revoking screen time privileges just isn't cutting it anymore, parents are often inspired to get creative with discipline techniques. Now, a mom from Singapore is getting a round of applause for her "Jar of Pain" technique.

Leza Klenk is a mother of a teenager, preteen and 9-year-old. Klenk shared on Facebook that she hates raising her voice and does not hit her kids, so she's decided to promote good behavior with a proprietary system she calls the "Jar of Pain." It's basically a new twist on the classic swear jar—or simply an innovative way to reduce a child's allowance for bad behavior.

Depending on a kid's offense, they'll incur a lighter or heftier fine. For instance, small offenses, like leaving the table while the rest of the family is still eating or not hanging a towel up in the bathroom, costs them 50 cents. But if they're acting out big time—think making a lot of nose before bedtime or not getting homework done—they'll owe a dollar.

“In the end … they will feel the pain of losing their gadgets and money, so automatically they will learn,” wrote Klenk.

But there's a bit of a silver lining: At the end of the month, funds from the jar are used to fund a family dinner or activity.

For parents who might want to try this themselves, she advised not creating a monstrously long list of more than 10 possible offenses. "This puts children under pressure, thinking they are always on thin ice," she said. "Just reasonable possible 'crimes' but bear in mind to also let them be mischievous and creative as children. Kids don't grow best in very #regimented households."

Since Klenk shared her tip, parents have applauded the mom of three's strategy. "There are teachable moments here," wrote one parent. "Opportunities for parents to set virtues-based boundaries to help children strengthen their identities! Virtues like consideration, responsibility, accountability, orderliness, respect."

That said, Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist in Wilton, Connecticut reminds parents to take their kid's personality into consideration, as discipline isn't one size fits all. "Do they care about money and value money? Then it might be effective," she notes. "You have to determine what is important to the child, and then, create a consequence around that thing or experience. That way, there will be a greater possibility of seeing change."

And if they earn money for doing chores, it may be worth considering that a child might bail on these responsibilities or harbor resentment if the reward is constantly taken away, says Feliciano.

No matter what discipline strategy ends up working best with your child, there's merit to teaching them that no matter your age, there are always costs associated with misbehavior.

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