I wanted to share another quick and easy behavior chart with you today. I have found that at times, behavior charts can be used to improve certain behaviors, reinforce good habits, or be used to develop a certain skills.Behavior charts are great for visual children, as they serve as a very tangible reminder of what is expected of them. They are concrete and the child knows ahead of time what your expectations are. (I found that setting clear expectations made the greatest impact on behavior when I was a classroom teacher, and have found the same to be true with my own kids!)
Another great perk about using a behavior chart, is that it teaches a young child to goal-set. We sit and talk about how many stickers need to be earned (or how many jobs need to be completed, etc) in order to earn the special reward at the end of the week. I have often seen my young children running to their chart throughout the week, counting up their stickers, and figuring out how many more they need in order to reach their goal. I remember one time when my daughter was around 4, when she realized that she needed 6 more stickers to reach her goal, and only had one day left to earn them. It was fun to watch her wheels turn and realize that she needed to earn a sticker in every category except for one that day (and then it was great to watch her be on her best behavior to make sure she did it!)
Extrinsic motivators can be very powerful for some children. (Case in point- My three year old son has not napped for a good 6 months +. We started the behavior chart yesterday…..He’s asleep.) However, note that not all children are motivated by a reward system. This is just like every other aspect of parenting….there is no catch-all….and there isn’t anything that is an absolute. Kids are different. If this works for you, great! If not, just keep trying!
Typically, as soon as my child has mastered the skills on the chart, or as soon as they have become a habit, we stop using the chart. I like to think of a behavior chart as a training tool, much like how a toddler receives an m&m for going on the potty. As the toddler works to learn/master her new skill, she is rewarded. In the same way, I like to select a handful of skills or behaviors I’d like my child to improve in/master, and then reward his efforts. However, once he is consistently doing the behavior, the training tool is no longer necessary (just like we aren’t still giving an m&m to our second graders each time they go to the bathroom!) I choose to keep a few things on the chart that a child is more likely than not going to receive a sticker for each day, to help them feel successful. If you select 8 behaviors that are all new or difficult for your child, and he/she finds him/herself struggling to receive any stickers, he/she is VERY likely to give up and lose interest, as well as feel like a failure. We can’t set our kids up to fail, and we also can’t give them a cakewalk…there has to be a balance in the tasks.
When choosing a reward, don’t feel like you have to go out of your way to spend a lot of money. I would encourage you NOT to do a chart if that is your m.o. We’re not raising spoiled kids here…we’re working on training our kids to master certain skills or behaviors. Kids don’t need a lego set or a DS game each time they do something right. (And don’t you dare give in and give the reward if they don’t earn it! Stick to your guns, and let the child know there is ALWAYS another chance to try! Charts teach perseverance as well, and kids need to learn that we don’t always succeed or “win” every time.) We like to use an “experience” as a reward. I like to use a special outing or bonding experience as the reward, as it is less material, and more about quality time and togetherness. For example, my son is working towards a trip to the local children’s museum. This is not any expense to us, as we have a membership. However, he really loves going there, and knowing that we can go next week if he earns enough stickers is very powerful for him. Our daughter used to like trips to the local “cupcake shop.” This was a tiny bakery down the street, and the cupcakes were a quarter. It’s about bonding and working towards a goal….NOT about getting new toys and “stuff.”
Here is what Henry’s behavior chart looks like:
I hope this will work for some of you! If not, just remember that there IS something else out there that will work! Just keep trying! Have a great day!