Counselor April News

The Bean Jar

The Bean Jar is a simple positive behavior support system that has been shared with many Fall River families over the years.  Here is how it works.

Supplies: A simple glass jar, a bag of dried beans. (Actually any small uniform object will work for currency, like marbles, jelly beans, coffee beans, erasers, pebbles...). 

Step 1: Clearly define the specific behavior you’d like your child to work on.  Rather than telling your child to “be good”, try describing the specific behavior you will reward.  For example, if you’d like your child to work on being a “first-time listener”, this means that as soon as the child hears mom make a request, the child does it right away without arguing, complaining, or having to be asked again.  It works best if you focus on 1-2 specific behaviors at a time.

Step 2:  Work hard to try to “catch your child being good”!  If you are looking for “first-time listeners”, as soon as your child meets the defined expectation, you drop a bean in the jar. 

Step 3:  Make a list of fun rewards your child can earn, and the amount of beans needed to do each activity. We recommend the child earns quality family or time spent with a special adult rather than material rewards.


  • 5 beans=Extra 15 minutes on a weekend night to stay up to read, cuddle or play.
  • 5 beans= One-on-one playtime with Mom or Dad for 15 minutes. Kid’s choice of activity.
  • 5 Beans= Choose pizza toppings.
  • 10 beans=Any craft for 30 minutes
  • 10 beans= Family Movie Night
  • 10 beans= Choose a dessert to help make for the family.
  • 15 beans=Watch a movie together at home
  • 25 beans= Go to mall or bookstore and play for one hour (doesn’t include purchasing anything).
  • 25 beans=Family Game Night!
  • 25 beans= Go with a parent/grandparent to Starbucks to play chess and drink hot chocolate
  • 50 beans=Friend at our house for 2 hours for a playdate
  • 50 beans= Outing to the Rec. Center (can include swimming)
  • 50 beans=1.5 hours at the park
  • 75 beans= “Queen/King for the Day”- on a weekend night, child gets to choose meals and 2 activities
  • 100 beans= Sleepover at our house (can invite up to 2 friends)
  • 150 beans=1/2 day trip to the waterpark


  • Focus on 1-2 behaviors at a time.
  • Maintain high expectations.  Reward only the behavior you are looking for.
  • Be consistent. As soon as you drop off rewarding the behavior, expect the positive behavior to drop off as well.
  • Beans don’t get taken away for bad behavior. The only consequence for poor behavior is not receiving a bean in the jar.
  • When the child displays negative behavior, it works best if you act sad (rather than mad) that you can’t put a bean in the jar.
  • If you have more than one child, allow each child to have his/her own jar.
  • The Bean Jar can work anywhere you go. Keep a snack size ziploc in your car or purse. If your child earns beans while you’re out, transfer the earned beans into another zipper pocket, then put them in his container when you get home.

If you have questions, please contact Susan Julien, the school counselor.

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