Do you struggle to encourage good behaviors in your kid? Do they do what you ask them to do?
It can be difficult to encourage and reinforce good behavior because so often we are employing the wrong strategy! We are more likely to discipline negative behaviors in our children then we are to encourage and reinforce the positive behaviors.
SO how do you encourage those positive behaviors you might ask? By reinforcing them! A great way to do this is with Behavior Charts, you know like the ones they have in the classrooms! Every kid wants to be on “green” or whatever the top category is, and often feels ashamed when they fall below. But time and time again I have clients come back to me telling me the behavior charts just aren’t working for them.
The trick to behavior charts is rewarding good behavior, and rewarding it often! Behavior charts are not used to punish bad behavior. The more we reward positive behaviors, the more they will engage in desired behaviors. As much as we might think otherwise, our kids want to please us! They want out praise! And so, when they get our praise and attention for completing good behaviors they will continue to do so!
This is not to say we shouldn’t punish our children, but that is another post for another time!
Children are extremely visual operators. As much as we can praise them verbally, hug and kiss then when they listen, having a visual, tangible reward can be helpful. We will have an even greater impact when our verbal praise is paired with a concrete tangible reward. That is exactly what a behavior chart does.
But why do so many people come back saying it isn’t effective? Because sometimes we are over ambitious with the number of behaviors we start with. Or we are inconsistent with rewarding the good behaviors. So here it is:
My Simple Instructions to Rewarding Good Behavior Using Behavior Charts
- Use separate charts for each child
- Only start out with 3-5 behaviors
- Consistently give them praise and marks when the complete or preform the behaviors listed
- Agree when starting: ___ # of checks/stickers = 1 reward (i.e. ice cream, a dollar store toy, a special outing, 15 minutes extended bedtime)
- When they master those behaviors, add in more behaviors slowly
- All behaviors stated positively
- Example: Do ________. Instead of Don’t do ___________.
- Do not remove checks for bad behavior!
I have created a behavior chart that you can download here. Print one for each child. Then sit down with your kids and decide on what 3 to 5 behaviors you want to address first! Remember these are things you want your child TO DO, like pick up their toys, eat dinner, stay in bed at night. Then both you and your child should sign it, it is a contract. They are agreeing to do the behaviors, you are agreeing to reward them for doing so. Each time they do one of the behaviors listed, praise them verbally and give them a check mark!
Depending on the age of your children I recommend between 10-15 check marks equal a physically reward. You want them to be able to earn the tangible reward every week to two weeks. They younger they are the more frequent the tangible rewards should be.
The key to behavior charts are: consistency, reinforcement not punishment, and follow through. When we get lazy and stop praising our children and giving them check marks, we will most likely see a decline in the good behaviors we desire. Eventually these behaviors will become habits, but we should always keep a sharp eye out to praise our kids. Have you ever heard of the movement catch them doing good? This was developed to encourage parents to keep an eye out for the good behaviors kids do.
Military parents, I know how hard it is to keep good behavior patterns going through times transitions. Between deployments, PCSs and mom/dad coming and going, friends PCSing can all disrupt our children’s behavior patterns! If you looking for great ways to help lead your children through these transitions and maintain good behavior hop over to my Military Parenting Page and check out my program coming soon: Parenting Coaching Designed specifically for Military Parents to address the unique concerns that we face with our children. Take a moment and sign up for updates and receive a FREE GIFT: An Easy How to Guide for Promoting Positive Behavior in our children to help go with your Behavior Chart.
Have you tried behavior charts to encourage positive behavior in your kids? Did it work? Let me know in the comments below!