Rewarding good behaviour with a jar of pasta.

Our weekday morning routine is… interesting.

We leave the house at 7:30, on a 20 mile round-trip to drop Sarah off at work. We need to be out of the house again at 8:40 to get The Bookworm to school on time. On two days of the week, I need to fit in dropping off The Chap at nursery too.

All of this means that we need to be ready early. We need to be fed early. We need to have teeth brushed early. We need to get up early.


The Bookworm does not like to get up early. She likes to stay awake when she’s been put to bed. She likes to lie there and think, and talk to herself, and occasionally sing, and sometimes rearrange her teddies.

Post-bedtime Bookworm is full of beans. Early morning Bookworm is a grump.

It’s like having a five-year-old teenager. Refusing to get out of bed. Rolling over and going back to sleep. Eventually getting up only to lie down, immovable, on her bedroom floor. And the whining!

Something had to change. We tried all of the usual parenting tactics. Encouragement. Shouting. Allowing her little brother to climb on her. Sadly, all were ineffective.

Then Sarah had a good idea. Each morning that The Bookworm could get out of bed the first time she’s asked, get her school clothes on without whining, and generally be pleasant, she could put a piece of pasta in a jam jar. When the jar gets full, she can choose a special treat.

If you’re thinking, ‘that sounds exactly like a normal reward chart’, that’s because it totally is like a normal reward chart. But better!

We never stick with reward charts. Either they get lost, or spilled on, or just neglected. But The Bookworm will not let this one slip. She has been single-minded in the mornings, most likely because getting a piece of pasta to put in a jar is a bit of a novelty.

Whenever we get nice or unusual pasta I usually keep a handful back and put it all in a big jar in our kitchen. The idea behind it is when we’re bored with normal pasta, we can cook up a load of different jumbled-up shapes. Now that The Bookworm is an avid daily pasta collector, she has been raiding our big pasta jar for the most interesting (and, I suspect, the largest) pieces for her reward jar.

It’s about 1/3 full now. She’s deliberating her reward, but it is between three contenders at the moment:

  • A cinema trip with Mummy
  • A colourful hair band with pretend plait on it
  • Some clip-clop shoes, but not princess ones

Hopefully it will soon be full.

Do you guys have any interesting behaviour rewards? We’d love to hear all your ideas in the comments below. Let us know!


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