Behavior Charts: The Basics

Behavior Chart Basics

Behavior charts are helpful tools for encouraging appropriate, responsible, and respectful behaviors in children.  Perhaps the most challenging part of implementing a behavior chart is the actual set up.  Below you will find a list of strategies to make this process go smoothly.

Behavior Chart Basics:

Work WITH your child to create realistic behavior expectations.

  • Sit down with your child and discuss the desired expectation. Word expectations in a positive way.
    • “Pick up toys” as opposed to “don’t make a mess”
    • “Listen to directions after one or fewer warnings” instead of “Don’t argue”
  • Allow the child to choose what types of rewards can be earned. Rewards do not have to include buying anything.
    • Special time with a parent
    • Extra bedtime stories
    • Screen time
  • Be consistent
    • In the example above about listening to directions, if you give more than one warning, the opportunity to earn a point or sticker that time is over.
    • Decide what is acceptable and use that same benchmark in all situations.
  • Create a system that that gives the child opportunities to earn rewards incrementally
    • 2 points for cleaning plate independently, 1 point for cleaning plate after a reminder
    • A target number of points earned throughout the week can earn a larger, “weekend reward”.
  • Give child many opportunities to be successful
    • Encourage him/her to try something a second time if initially done incorrectly.
    • If your chart has multiple behaviors, be sure to include a behavior that your child already demonstrates most of the time.

Sample Behavior Charts:

Desired Behavior:Put toys away when finished playing Reward
Extra bedtime story
Stay up 10 minutes later than regular bedtime
I choose dessert after dinner

Example behavior chart for single behavior


Behavior/ Day Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Behavior 1
Behavior 2
Behavior 3

Example Behavior Chart for Multiple Behaviors

Do you have experience with behavior charts?  What are your tips on making them effective?  Please leave your feedback below.

 NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!