It is a well documented fact that children need structure in their life. During the formative years, creating and maintaining a structured schedule in their daily activities can prevent behavior problems and encourage desired behaviors. Most parents are familiar with chore charts, designed to help children become more responsible and accountable for household chores. Behavior charts work in the same way, except the focus is on the child’s behavior and subsequent rewards or punishments. Behavior charts can be an excellent tool to help your child gain control over their behavior and understand that their actions have consequences.
Creating a behavior chart.
If you have not used behavior charts in the past, you may be wondering how to design a behavior chart. There are no hard and fast rules as to how you create your behavior chart, the goal is to establish some method of tracking your child’s behavior and providing rewards for good behavior. This may include creating a list of both desired and negative behaviors and points that are awarded or deducted for each type of behavior. Ideally you will establish a weekly behavior chart and tally up points each week. For example, you may list several desired behaviors with a point system that shows your child how many “points” they will be credited if they behave well. On the other hand you will create a list of negative behavior and the amount of points that will be deducted from the total when your child misbehaves. Each day you can tally up the points in each category, with a grand total at the end of the week.
Rewards for points.
In order for the behavior chart to be successful your child will have to know what he or she is “working” toward. Everyone needs to have goals to work toward, including children. Your point system and rewards should be age appropriate and realistic, otherwise your child might find the entire process complicated and overwhelming. As with all goal setting, you want the reward to be achievable or else your child may feel they will never receive their reward. Whether they are working towards new crayons, a pizza party or a name brand pair of sneakers, the goal mus be attainable in order to encourage good behavior.
It is important to make the use of a behavior chart a family affair. If you have more than one child, each child should have their own behavior chart, designed with their age and interests, as well as individual behaviors outlined. What works for your toddler will be of no use to your pre-teen and vice versa. As a family affair, you also want to sit down with your children to ensure they understand how the points system and rewards work. Lead by example to encourage good behaviors and remain consistent with rewards and punishments. This will teach your child that when they modify their behavior, they can anticipate a specific reaction from you, the parent.
- Download a sample behavior chart (Excel file)