Behavior charts are an easy way to track and inspire new behaviors
Typically used with young children, behavior charts give us a way to work on improving one behavior at a time so it can become a new habit. Why do behavior charts work? Because what we measure improves. Studies have shown that what when we know our actions are being watched, we behave and perform better. So, when your children or students know that the number of times they brush their teeth or turn in their classroom assignments is being tracked, they’re naturally going to be more inclined to do those things. Couple that with an incentive or reward (completely different from a bribe) and your children and students can start making wonderful improvements in their behavior and tendency to get things done.
How To Get Started With Behavior Charts
1Think about a single behavior you’d like your child or student to start doing. Even though there are probably many things you’d like your children or students to be better at, it’s important that you focus on creating only one new habit at a time.
2State the behavior that you selected in a positive way, not negative. See examples below. Instead of writing “Stop calling out in the classroom” which is what you don’t want them to do, state it positively like this: “Raise your hand before speaking.” Here are some other positively stated behaviors you and your kids might want to work on: At Home: Brush your teeth; take your supplements; clear the dinner table; feed the dog. At School: Stay in your seat; walk in the hallways; turn in your homework; keep your hands to yourself. Notice that these are simple instructions that are stated in the positive. It is also easy to recognize whether they have been completed or not.
3Select a behavior chart that you think is most appropriate. Download and print it. We have a selection of free behavior charts on our website. They’re designed for children ages 3-12 but depending on your needs, they can be adapted for other ages. Choose a behavior based on the design you think the child will like, as well as the number of repetitions required to complete the chart.
4Decide on an incentive or reward that you want to use with this chart. Be sure to select something that will motivate the child. Decide on inexpensive ideas for incentives and rewards: 15 minutes later bedtime; Stickers; Pencils or markers; Coloring sheets. The possibilities are endless and they don’t have to be costly. They also don’t have to be related to foods and treats! Brainstorm to come up with some of the things that the child likes.
5Be consistent in how you apply your decision-making to the chart. This is a major key to success. Once you start using a behavior chart with your child or student you need to participate in the process of them filling it up. In other words, you have to be watching them to catch them doing their new behavior so you can acknowledge them and invite them to fill in their behavior chart. Then you have to be consistent with providing the reward. If the reward is one that you can’t fulfill right away due to circumstances, give them a coupon that acknowledges the accomplishment and can be used later for the reward.
6Celebrate little wins along the way and keep a positive attitude. It needs to be enjoyable for both of you. If you or your child start to get frustrated with the chart plans or you feel it isn’t going as smoothly as it should, take time out to reevaluate the process.