Behavior charts, when used correctly and consistently, can be very effective parenting tools. A behavior chart is an easy and inexpensive way to monitor and correct your child’s behavior, and is also an excellent means of enabling your child to take responsibility for his or her actions. Behavior charts can be either simple or elaborate, but typically consist of a list of chores or behaviors that need correcting, and a list of rewards that can be earned by doing those chores or improving misbehavior. Read on to learn how to make a behavior chart.
Sit down with your child and discuss ideas for the behavior chart. Together, decide what the chart will look like, and then go shopping for the materials you will need to create the chart. Involving your child in the creation of the behavior chart will allow him to feel more connected to the process, and make it more likely that he will stick to the daily tasks.
Determine what chores or behaviors should be included on the chart. The list will depend on your child’s age and abilities, and can be modified as your child gets older. It is important to include at least one activity that your child already does, as receiving a token or star each day will encourage your child to work on the items listed on the behavior chart. Some example tasks include getting up on time, brushing teeth or hair, make the bed, setting or clearing the table, finishing homework before a specific time, and showing respect toward family members. The length of the list should also be based on your child’s age, and should not be so long as to overwhelm your child.
Allow your child to create a reward system. Rewards should be inexpensive, simple, and consistent. You can choose to provide daily rewards, or offer various rewards based on the accumulation of stars or tokens. Some example rewards include stickers, extended bedtime one weekend night each week, a day out with mom or dad, a special treat, or a trip to the movies. Your child should be in charge of selecting the rewards--with your input.
Discuss each item on the behavior chart with your child. It is crucial that your child clearly understands your expectations for each item, and that he knows how the reward system works. Generalities, such as "Do my work" or “Be nice to my sister,” should be avoided. The more specific the tasks are, the greater your chance of success.
Gather the supplies and design your chart. Let your child lead the way, and only offer help when it is needed. Once the chart is complete, let your child choose a location in your home to display it. The chart should be accessible and visible at all times.
Sandra Ketcham has nearly two decades of experience writing and editing for major websites and magazines. Her work appears in numerous web and print publications, including "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "The Tampa Bay Times," Visit Florida, "USA Today," AOL's Gadling and "Kraze Magazine."