Behavioral Charts: How to Promote the Behaviors You Want

Behavioral Charts: How to Promote the Behaviors You Want

Behavioral Charts are an important to parenting any child. Whether encouraging them to complete chores, developing positive habits, or decreasing negative behaviors by replacing them with more positive, adaptive ones. Behavioral Charts are based on positive reinforcement, which is presenting a positive stimulus (reward) as a result of “good” behavior,  and therefore increasing the likelihood that the behavior will increase and continue. If done correctly, Behavioral Charts can be a very effective manner to see positive improvements in a child’s behavior. Follow these steps to help implement and utilize behavioral plans.

1. Think About the Desired Behavior Clearly 

The first step is to think about behaviors you would like to increase (e.g. hanging your jacket up, cleaning the play area, completing your homework). The very first behavior you pick should be achieved easily to give your child a sense of mastery (an ability to complete a task). The task should be easy enough that the child earns a reward for the first week. As you continue to pick behaviors, build on previous ones, making them more complex and demanding.

2. Think About the Rewards Carefully

This is can be slightly difficult. First off, your child should participate in picking the reward. If the reward is not something that the child wants then the desired behavior may never occur or will not consistently remain present. Many children will pick items that they want purchased such as toys or video games. Suggest options that are enticing and are not monetary in value, such as favorite meals made at home (e.g. breakfast for dinner), staying up late one weekend night or renting a movie for a “movie night.” Additionally, make sure that you offer verbal praise for positive behaviors. Sometimes this can be more important, effective and reinforcing than actual rewards.

3. Create the Behavior Chart

There are a number of ways you can create the chart. It can be as simple as receiving a “check mark” for a completed behavior with a determined number of checks each week (5 checks for seven days). This type of chart should be considered for younger children. If check marks is not engaging enough use cool stickers. Older children can work off a “point system” where they earn points for desired behaviors and then can choose prizes from a “rewards menu.”

4. Present the Plan to Your Child

It is of the upmost importance that everyone is clear on the rules and regulations of the plan. This includes desired behaviors, rewards, building on behaviors each week and greater prizes as the desired behaviors continue. Discuss how the rewards will be monitored and followed and where the chart will be displayed (e.g. refrigerator, board in the hallway, or on the computer).

5. Follow-through is Key

Usually the plans need to be tweaked after the first week and sometimes in an ongoing way. Don’t give up after one week if the period of compliance ends. Make it a part of your routine, reviewing the chart and marking off the boxes of the chart. This needs to be followed on a daily basis and creativity is key to keeping the child engaged.

Key Points to Remember:

**Negative Behaviors DO NOT in any way affect the behavior chart. Stickers are not removed and the ability to earn stickers is not inhibited.

**Once the child gains understanding and mastery of the behavioral chart at home, contact the school and the child’s teacher to increase positive and desired behaviors at school.

** Regarding rewards: only present rewards that you can actually offer. If your child completes the plan, the reward needs to be delivered or the power of the behavioral chart is lost.

**Consistency is key. If you do not follow the plan as outlined, or pick and choose when you want to reinforce behaviors, you may actually be strengthening the exact behaviors you are trying to change.