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How to Make an Effective Behavior Chart for Your Kids

When working with children, the idea of a behavior chart for kids always comes to mind. Mostly used by parents and in some school settings, these are considered to be one of the most efficient behavior modification tools for kids.

Behavior charts are based on the principle of positive reinforcement, which simply means that if the child is rewarded or praised for good behavior, there is a higher chance that they continue to engage in that certain behavior in the long-term. Behavior charts are designed to keep them on track and focus on their goals. Most kids are also attracted to the immediate response these reward charts offer.

However, it is important to note that behavior charts at home are not meant to shame or embarrass your child. Comparing them with their siblings will not keep them motivated to modify their behavior. If you focus on the fact that they only got one star or sticker instead of rewarding them for that effort, they will not be encouraged to do better. The main goal of these behavior charts is to slowly and carefully reinforce expected behaviors and remove back-and-forth arguments that arise from undesirable attitudes.

How Behavior Charts Work

The concept is pretty simple. It is a piece of paper or cardboard with rows and columns on it. Behaviors you want your child to engage in are written on it. Examples are “finish homework”, “brush teeth”, “clean up toys”, or “hang up clothes after showering.” It can be a daily or weekly behavior chart. You and your child will keep track of how often each behavior is completed. A checkmark, stickers or smileys can be used to indicate the completion of each behavior. A reward is given for completing those set behaviors. 

This may sound very simple. The success or failure of this behavior chart at home relies on how you implement them. So it is important to set a goal and know what steps you need to take to effectively engage your child.

Identify the Desired Behavior

Start by identifying what behavior needs to be addressed. Always start with something small. Choose three behaviors to address. This will help keep your child on track. Don’t confuse them by giving too many behaviors to engage in all at once. Be specific and let your child know exactly what you mean. For example, saying “be good” will not be effective since your child does not know what they should be good at. Use a positive tone when enforcing these behaviors. Gage these behaviors based on their age and maturity level.

Keep Your Child Involved

Let them choose the behaviors they want on the chart. They can also make the charts themselves, pick out stickers and decide on what reward they will get. Keep the chart visible, like on the fridge. This will help achieving the task easier since you and your child will often see the chart. If you have more than one child, keep a separate chart for each. It is crucial to keep the kids involved to make the behavior chart as effective as possible.

Determine How Often Good Behaviors Should Be Rewarded

Think about how often a child should be rewarded for their good behavior. For younger ones, a visual affirmation may be needed, like a sticker or a star to let them see their progress. Older ones may be able to wait for feedback at the end of the day.

It is your choice when to reward them. It can be in the mid-morning, late afternoon or nighttime. You can also divide it into three segments – before going to school, after school or before bedtime.

Use Short-term and Long-term Goals

Make multiple rewards – they can be immediate or long-term. For example, if your child earns three stickers, they get to have an extra ten minutes of TV time. When they earn ten stars or stickers, you get to take them out for pizza. If they are consistent and able to earn thirty stickers, they get to choose a new toy or something they have been wanting to have for a long time.

Determine a Meaningful Reward

Stickers and the subsequent reward may be effective enough to motivate your child, while some may opt to have larger rewards, especially if they are really behaving well. Finding a reward that helps motivate your child is important. They don’t need to be expensive rewards. There are affordable or free rewards you can give in exchange for good behavior. You may reward them by giving them the authority to choose a family game or some quality time together. 

Change the reward as often as needed. Your child’s interests and maturity level changes over time. What motivates them this week may not be as meaningful in the following days. So, make sure that the behavior charts you create are updated too.

In conclusion, a behavior chart for kids that offers rewards is a good motivator for them to change and adopt the right behaviors. These are just some simple tips to help you with starting your own chart. If you are having difficulties with keeping your child on task or continually breaking rules, contact Elite Preschool. There are available programs that help younger kids get motivated and become better in life.

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