Making It Count :: The Calming Jar Amidst a Parental Revelation

Ugh, I don't much care for little parenting tricks such as this, I tell you what.    
Sticker charts, time-out tables, complicated chore motivationals...I admit, they irritate me.  I tend to just want to tell the boys what to do and then expect them to, you know, DO it.  Like when they're getting upset or having a fit and I say "calm down" or "stop right now" I want them to do just that.  
Except that's not reasonable on my part to expect out of a toddler or young child.  I totally realize this.  I need to be better at helping them understand and get through feelings.  I'm not even good with my own so I guess it makes sense that I struggle with helping them.  But by the grace of God I hope to not pass my little issues onto my children, you know?  Anyway, tricks such as this seem way too gimmicky to me and I see them as destined to fizzle-out rather quickly.  So I avoid them.

But here's the thing which many of you already just naturally know:  when you have multiple children, chances are high that some or all will not tick the way you do.  That perhaps their temperament may differ from yours and that (shocking enough) the things that come naturally to you don't come naturally to them.  For a melancholic choleric like me, that is sometimes a surprising and frustrating realization.  How funny that I had this post all written up last week and ready to go and then last night had a great discussion with some friends on this very topic.  

  I'm learning, though.  I'm learning that it is not a sign of parental weakness to realize that your children's temperaments differ from yours.  I'm learning that making changes in your parenting style to best suit the needs of the individual child and what will work for them is a sign of sacrifice and love and perhaps, that is how God designed it.  That in parenting, He draws us, motivated by love, to stretch outside of our comfort zones and offer ourselves, even when it rubs us the wrong way.  I hope to work on this more and really learn that one-size-fits-all may not be very effective or very loving parenting.

So with that lengthy introduction, I present to you The Calming Jar.  I saw it on Pinterest linked to this site here.  I was so desperate inspired that I decided to just ignore my gag, try it and see what happens.  (She calls it a "Mind Jar" but that was too much for me.  Even "The Calming Jar" makes me want to throw up just a little bit.  I said I'm working on it.)  The idea is that when a child is upset, emotional, or struggling to remain calm, they shake the jar and watch the glitter fall.  As the glitter falls they can picture their feelings settling and, in theory, they calm themselves down.  I can see that this might actually work (provided I can stay calm enough during a meltdown to actually implement it well).  We shall see!

I didn't use the glitter glue as she did but simply dumped a bunch of dry glitter in a jar, added water, and a few drops of food coloring.  I did have to add a small squirt of dish detergent so that the glitter would sink rather than rise to the top.  So there you have it.  My foray into sympathetic and understanding and better parenting.  Making it count, y'all!

**Update:  As I said, I wrote this last week so I'm sure you're DYING to know if it's worked thus far, right?  Well, I've only had the chance ONCE to see and it was with the newly three year old.  He was having a fit and I was all like "David, do you want to shake the calming jar and watch all the glitter fall and it's just like all these angry feelings but they're all settling and you are going to feel so calm and happy and peaceful now?"  And he was all like "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"  So, really, it's going great.  

But in fairness, I don't think this is really for a three year old.  I do think it has the chance of working on the older kids.  Or it might not.  And then it'll disappear and when they're older the boys can be all like, "Remember that weird thing mom tried to do once?  With the glitter?"  And then I'll get upset.  And really wish I had a calming jar.


  1. This is awesome.
    Both in your resistance to apply such tools (I will struggle in the same way)
    And in David's response :)

  2. Oh Mary, we really are two peas in a pod. Can't they, just, like, DO WHAT I FRAPPIN' SAY? Clearly things would work out better for everyone if everyone just did what I told them to. Why do I have to apply irritating techniques and act not irritated when clearly any reasonable person would be totally irritated? Ugh.


  3. Ha! I love the little update. :) Even if it doesn't work for the purpose you intended, it's still pretty cool. My son made something like this in a science class a while ago, and he loved it.
    I tried making butterfly food last week for Making it Count, and that didn't work. Not everything we try will work, but it's still fun trying new things.

    1. Yep, if all else fails, it's really a snow globe!! Really!

  4. you kill me! you sure you don't want to live in Massachusetts?

    I am so going to have a conversation with The Big Guy when I see Him: Why does He give little people free will? Really, they shouldn't have that until they move out of the house! Just sayin'

    Hope the jar works for someone, even if that someone is you - I might even get one for me; because my children will drop the jar and I'll just have glitter all over the place and that would be ugly infinity.


  5. I could actually really see this working for my 9yo! He tends to get pretty wound up and it is tough to get him back to level ground. I can see how this would be calming even if you leave out the "angry feelings falling" explanation.

    1. That's how one of my children is as well. When he's upset and I tell him to calm down, he literally says, "I don't know how" and he's being completely genuine. I think this may very well be good for him. And he's old enough to be able to get it and implement it himself. We'll see!

  6. Ohhhhh funny. So, so funny.

    By the way, please tell me you glued that lid on.

  7. Hmm.. I'm with you and highly skeptical of the mumbo-jumbo. And at my house we would all get even more frustrated looking for the blasted jar when the moment hit. Good luck, though.

  8. Just found this post and I just want to say - so glad someone else wants to vom when they see this pin (every. other. day.). I always assumed that the child would be so angry they'd throw the jar - resulting in a bigger mess and a big punishment!!

    But I had a scary temper as a child, so maybe that's just me... :)


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