DIY: Positive Reinforcement Using Warm Fuzzies

1:40 PM

  One of my biggest hopes in life is that my children will look back at their childhood with warm and loving memories.  In order to have happy children that will grow to be respectable adults, I want to be the kind of parent that cares enough to discipline.

  After many weeks of struggle with my three year old, resulting in mommy exhaustion and a very sad and tired boy, I was reminded by a friend of a technique that I used in my classroom that worked wonders for disciplining in a positive and healthy way.

  I call this the "warm fuzzy" jar.  Each little pom pom is a warm fuzzy.  I have told my son that when we are good we feel warm and fuzzy inside.  I told him that I want to see him be good, so that we can both feel warm and fuzzy inside, and be happy.  Anytime, and every time I see my little man do something well, or quickly obey, or do something kind etc. I add a warm fuzzy to the jar.

  Notice how they are differing sizes.  Depending on the thing he does he may get a big, or little warm fuzzy.  As a mother I decide what this means.  Usually, if it is something that is expected or that he does well, like taking his plate to the sink, I will give him a small warm fuzzy.  If it something that he has been struggling with, like staying in his bed at night, I will give him a large warm fuzzy to show how proud I am of him.

  It is as simple as that.  When the jar is filled to the brim, he gets to go on a trip to the dollar store to choose one thing.

 It is amazing how little people want to be good.  If we as parents look for the good, we may be surprised at how good our children really are.  The more good we see and acknowledge, the more they will want to be good.  There will be less negativity, and focus on the things they are not doing right.  They will be happy and we will be happy.  I believe that I have the sweetest, most obedient, well-behaved little boy that there ever was thanks to the opportunity I have to really look for all the good he does.


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  1. So I take it you don't remove warm fuzzies when he does the opposite of giving you a warm fuzzy? :) We are at our wits end with our four year old, this sounds worth a try! Thanks!

    1. I have been doing this for the last couple of days and right now we have a rule in place that they can not lose or have them taken away. I've also implemented whenever they get 10 fuzzies they get to choose a reward card: 10 minutes extra game time, or 10 minutes past bedtime, slushie, DVD rental or mom making bed for one week

    2. We currently have a rule in place that they cannot have any fuzzies taken away.
      We have been doing this for the last few days and for every 10 fuzzies they get, they will receive 1 rewards card: 10 minutes extra game time, 10 minutes of past bedtime, slushie, DVD Rental, or mom making bed for 1 week. They get to choose 1 card.

    3. How awesome! I am totally going to have to steal your ideas!

  2. @anonymous - I have debated on what I should do about that. Right now I am trying to only give and seeing how it all works out. If is doesn't taking one might be worth a try. Good luck to you!

  3. We had warm fuzzies in school as well! Love this idea, thanks for bringing this back and I appreciate you wanting to use positive reinforcement rather then punishment. It is more effective in the long run. : )

  4. Love! We are earning "puffs" like crazy around here. I feel like a much better mom! Amazing how that happens! We remove puffs for serious offenses, but man alive is it devastating. It's nice to have a physical reminder for me that for every negative, there should be lots of positives!

  5. Okay, I've been trying this for over a week. My strong-willed 4-year-old is barely even motivated by this! He was excited for the first couple of days, and then completely lost interest and he isn't inspired by it anymore. I'm wondering if it's taking too long for him to see the reward and he's given up? I swear, he goes days without getting one int he jar because he is behaving so badly. Any ideas on how to tweak this idea for a kid like mine?

  6. @Rebecca- use bigger warm fuzzies or a smaller jar. Maybe go get the prize together before achieving the goal and then he can see the goal insight. Good luck! Don't give up. Compliment every tiny thing done well! You're wonderful! Being a mom can be so hard at times!!

  7. Can I respond to this too? I think the key is to remember that it is a "positive reinforcement" tool, not a reward. I find that it is less effective when I start saying, "if you do this, then you will earn..." The goal is to "catch your child doing good" then praise and praise and add a warm fuzzy just to make it that much more exciting. Sometimes, I can even diffuse a tantrum by finding something he's doing (or not doing), praising and rewarding. He gets so busy putting his little puff ball in the jar, that the tantrum ends! For example, if he's starting to throw a tantrum, I might say, "Thank you for choosing not to hit your sister, let's add to your jar" or "Wow, I really appreciate you putting your coat away." Ignore all the negative (even if the negative is loud and intense)and get creative to find a positive.It works miracles.
    Also, it does help to have a goal. My son has picked out a truck he wants and his world revolves around earning it! It's a wonderful way to teach delayed gratification. When he earns it, we make a big show of going to the store to buy his toy and make it a special event.