By: Katelyn Braatz

 

What Is A Behavior Chart?

As a therapist working with children who have behavioral issues, whether at home or in school, I encourage the parents to implement a behavior chart. A behavior chart is a simply a method to promote acceptable behavior and decrease/eliminate negative behaviors. Children may not have the same motivations that adults do, and it is in this situation when a behavior chart comes in handy. Children learn at a young age which behaviors are acceptable based on their consequences—a reward is something that may be helpful when it comes to encouraging good behavior. It is important that parents are committed—meaning they have to be consistent and adhere to the rules of the behavior chart as they are the ones who will be delivering the rewards. If done correctly, there should be a decrease in negative behaviors over time.

How To Make One

The first step in making a behavior chart is to identify the goal which must be very specific. For example, if the issue is that the child is having issues getting up on time for school—the goal would be identifying a specific time to be out of bed. (e.g., “Get up at 6:15 AM”). Teaching your child to use an alarm clock to get up on their own may be helpful. It is recommended to start off with one goal at a time as stacking up too many may seem overwhelming or unattainable for the child.

On the behavior chart—you will need to put the day of the week/dates on the chart to track the behavior. It would be helpful if children identify what they want to use to track the behavior, such as a sticker or a simple checkmark. When the child successfully meets all their goals for the day, he or she may be entitled to a small reward.

What Kind Of A Reward Is Good?

To encourage and maintain a healthy strong relationship between parents and children, I would encourage making the chance to spend 30 minutes with mom and dad (perhaps to play a video game or read a book together) one such reward. In order to achieve the “big reward”, I would suggest that it be attainable after the child has successfully met a week’s worth of goals. The big reward could be a trip to the zoo or the day at the park (more time with parents). It is important for the child to identify what would be motivating enough for each day and for the week.

Personally, I like using experiences instead of material items to reward a child. Children often will start valuing materialistic items versus experiences/relationships over time if parents tend to give children toys, etc.

Conclusion

I always educate parents to be always supportive of their child if they do not have a successful day by simply stating “let’s try for tomorrow” and ignoring the negative as the child is already aware of what he or she has done. When one goal is consistently successful, then it may be time to include additional goals. It’s important for parents to stay patient in the process. If you feel like your child cannot follow through with a specific rule pertaining to the chart, it may be helpful to ask their therapist on how it can be modified.

If you feel like your child is having trouble achieving their goals, contact us today to figure out how we can put them on the path to success!

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