Behavior charts are a mystery to many parents. But they can also be very effective when used properly. These 7 tips will help you make better use of behavior charts so that your children can be happier and better behaved.
Tip #1: Use a single measurable goal.
If the behaviors you want your child to start doing aren’t measurable, then how will you (or your child) know when the behavior has changed?
Go for measurable goals you can see with your eyes like: Make your bed every morning. Do your homework before watching TV. Take out the garbage.
Tip #2: Express the desired outcomes in positive language.
Instead of focusing on what you want your child to stop doing, focus on what you want them to start doing.
Say, “Put your dishes in the sink,” instead of “Stop leaving dishes around the house.” This small distinction will make a big difference.
Tip #3: Start with small expectations.
If your child has been misbehaving or not doing her chores for several weeks, months, or even years, remember…old habits die hard.
Don’t expect her to turn into your version of a perfect child over night. Focus on just one specific action you’d like her to start doing and stick with that goal until it is reached. Think baby steps and focus on only one behavior change at a time.
Tip #4: Involve your kids in choosing the rewards.
Your child isn’t going to respond to the behavior chart if he doesn’t enjoy or like the reward. Think about it. Would you like to go to work if you were going to get paid in peanuts? Might work for an elephant, but not for you.
When your child is involved in selecting the reward they’re working toward (and agrees to it!) he’ll be more willing to participate in using the chart.
Tip #5: Be patient.
Even if the behavior changes over night, you need to give it some time to become a new habit. Don’t stop using the chart just because your child has made her bed 7 days in a row.
Keep using the chart for at least a month on the same behavior to make sure that the new behavior is firmly in place. As your child gets better at it she can experience some “wins” for reaching her goal and that’s going to feel great.
Tip #6: Take care of your own stress levels.
If you’re expecting your kids to be on good behavior, you need to be a role model. If you meet their temper tantrums and defiant behavior with your own style of tantrum, things are going to escalate…quickly.
Find out what keeps you calm and centered so that you can be available for whatever happens as your child is learning to respect themselves and the behavior chart system.
Tip #7: Be consistent.
Behavior charts don’t work by themselves. They’re fueled by responsible parents who act as the backbone of the whole process. Consistency will help build trust between you and your child and will allow your child to feel comfortable trusting the process of using the charts.
If you say you’re going to use the chart daily, do that. If you tell your child she can have a friend spend the night as a reward for filling her weekly chart, by all means, have the slumber party.
When in doubt, put yourself in their shoes: If your boss said you were going to get paid on Friday and then Friday came along and he said, “Nope, no paycheck for you,” you’d start losing respect for your boss and your job.
Being consistent can be hard – but if you can pull it off, you’ll find a lot more success with the behavior charts.
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