Like many families across the nation, we've had a swear jar established for a few years now. Whenever a family member feels the need to shout an expletive, the rest of us fulfill our need to make sure that family member puts a quarter in the swear jar. It's effective, for the most part. It helps us save up money for parking in the city and taking trips to the candy store for good behavior.

But truth be told, there's always more money in the swear jar because of how much the matriarc of the household loves the mother of all swear words. I mean, it puts money in the jar, but I’M THE ONE putting money in it.

I assessed my kids’ speech patterns. They’re tweens now and are often saying things I don’t like. (I was an English teacher and my kid is using double negatives? Who taught him English?!)

I realized recently that what really bugs me about the pre-teen set, is their smug sarcasm. Sometimes I think I'd rather hear them say the F-word and sing along to an old Snoop Dogg tune (wait, my daughter has actually done that) than listen to their snarky side.

Sarcasm is about tone as well as words. It’s completely about intent. Picture a home with siblings, where no one is sarcastic with one another. Oh my goodness. Bliss.

We also decided that non-verbal sarcasm, such as eye rolls and heavy sighs when asked to do chores, should count as well.

This year, we’ve vowed to have a nicer household — where everyone is kinder to each other. And so, we’ve developed the sarcasm jar. It's a large quart-size mason jar, and every time someone goes sarcastic on a family member, that’s 25 cents they owe to the jar. Here's why you should try it, too — and how to set it up.

Have a Family Meeting

Together, you need to determine what will count towards the jar. Determine the payment. For us, children would owe a quarter and adults would owe a dollar for each offense. Also determine what will happen to the money after the jar is filled. Does it go to the person who put in the least? Is it used for a family outing? It’s up to you.

Place the Jar In a Prominent Place

It only really works if it is in a room that everyone moves through. Ours is on the buffet table in the dining room.

Incorporate Time Constraints

Determine how long the practice will run. We decided to revisit the idea monthly and to meet again to see if it has brought about changes in attitude, manners, and interactions.

Share Results

So far for us, it’s working better than the swear jar ever did. And I’m happy to report that the jar is not overflowing. My daughter and son both catch themselves and point to the jar. They are running out of spare change and don’t really want to do extra chores as payment either. At the end of February, we’re planning to meet to discuss results.

Do you have a sarcasm jar? Or a swear jar? How is it working in your family?

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