The Cotton Ball Jar

Little Miss and I both have strong personalities. At times that can pave the way for some conflict that I would much rather avoid. My solution? The Cotton Ball Jar!

I had her color her name on a piece of masking tape and stick it on there so she can have a part in making it. This really helped her get excited about the whole thing. It’s amazing what markers can do.


It is a very simple award system that has been very helpful at helping Little Miss make better choices. Basically, any time she is spotted making good choices (helping her sister, saying thank you, cleaning up after herself…etc) she gets to add a cotton ball to her jar. Once she gets to 5 cotton balls, she gets a smelly!

What’s a smelly you ask? It involves these.


She gets to pick which lip balm she wants and smears it on the back of both her hands and her lips if she’s feeling froggy. I try to make sure I get ones that have a really strong smell, otherwise they’re kinda pointless. That orange one always makes me want an orange Cremesicle every time. 🙂

After she reaches 10 cotton balls, she gets to choose a prize. I have about 10 of them printed out and laminated.


When we first started using the jar, I would leave the card she chose out until all cards had been chosen. That didn’t work out so well, she kinda lost interest at the leftover prizes. Who can blame her, I wouldn’t work that hard to just go to the library either…and I love books.

After she gets a prize we start over again at zero! The thing with this is that I’ve had to be careful about making sure to give her cotton balls when she is making good choices and not just use it as a punishment. Sometimes when she’s having a rough day, I create situations for her to make good choices so she can earn some cotton balls that way.

I also wanted her take on some responsibility so we started having her put her dishes in the sink for breakfast and make sure that Jazz has food and water. This gives her a chance to earn a cotton ball first thing in the morning!

So far this method has worked well. It has helped keep me consistent with how I react to her behavior and she always feels good about herself when she gets to pick a prize. Curly Q loves it too. She gets to reap the benefits without all the work!


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