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!

Potty Training a Child with Autism: The Toughest Case

Potty training can be a very challenging process, and even when you have a plan in place there will more than likely be issues that arise. Potty training children with autism can add additional challenges, but potty training is still possible. It is important to remember that potty training is a process that takes time, so be patient and eventually your child will be potty trained.

Keys for successfully potty training a child with autism:

  • Always start with urine training – It is much easier to control fluid intake, and urinationPotty Training a Child with Autism: The Toughest Case occurs more frequently. After your child is successfully urine trained, you can then work on bowel movements.
  • Create a reward system to reinforce positive toileting behaviors – Start with basic toileting skills (i.e., sitting on the toilet) then begin rewarding additional behaviors such as going in the toilet, requesting to go, etc.).
  • Do not use punishment for accidents – Always keep in mind that your child is learning and accidents are a part of that learning process. If you punish accidents your child could begin to associate normal bodily functions as something bad. The preferred method of handling accidents is to provide natural consequences such as making them assist in the clean-up, making them change their own clothes, etc.
  • Create a toileting schedule – This will keep both you and your child on track. In the beginning you can start taking your child to the bathroom every 15 minutes. After following this schedule for a week or two you can adjust the time either up or down depending on how well they are doing.

Potential challenges of potty training a child with autism and how to handle them:

  • Child will not sit on the toilet – If this happens you will need to pair the toilet as something reinforcing. The best way to do this is to withhold their favorite toy such as an iPad and only let them play with the item when they are on the toilet. You can set a timer so they know how long they need to sit. Start with a shorter time, and then slowly increase the amount of time they need to sit.
  • Child will only urinate or have a bowel movement in their diaper – The quickest solution for this is to completely eliminate diapers. If there are no diapers in your home, your child can’t rely on using them anymore.
  • Child will sit on the toilet, but will have an accident as soon as they get off the toilet – In this situation you will need to sit your child on the toilet, and continue to give plenty of fluids and have them sit there until the go. Once they eventually go, reward them.
  • Child will never ask to use the bathroom – This can be common in children with autism since often times they have communication challenges. The best way to address this is to teach them how to communicate when they need to go to the bathroom from the start. Use whichever mode of communication they are currently using (i.e., vocal, sign language, PECS). Prior to taking them to the bathroom, prompt then to request to go.

Potty Training 101: The Easy How-To Guide For Parents Download our free, 15-Page eBook

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview 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!