Elementary Schoolers
Tweens & Teens

Positive Parenting with Behavior Charts

Few parents are actual fans of making breakfast, getting dressed for the day, helping Mary find her homework, packing lunches, helping Ben get dressed, taking the dog for his morning walk, and shooing Sandy back to the bathroom for the 10th time to brush her teeth... at the same time!  There's multitasking, and then there's craziness!  How's a mom and dad to cope!

Well, there's a reason why teachers use behavior charts in the classroom.  (Here's a well-kept secret: teachers use behavior charts at home with their own kids, too!)  Charts work!  They list clear objectives and challenge kids to reach specific goals.  But, if they're such a great tool, why don't all parents use them?  Because many parents think they are too hard to use.  We here at Kid Pointz are working to dispel that myth!  Charts not only work, they are deceptively simple to use!

Many parents find themselves spread way too thin trying to handle the day to day reality of parenting while effectively managing behavior. Learning how to reward children when they are wonderful and discipline them when they misbehave can be difficult. So difficult, in fact, that most parents opt for punishment rather than positive reinforcement.  Despite what you may think, behavior charts for children actually get your kids excited about exhibiting good behavior. A behavior chart makes it clear to everyone what is acceptable behavior, when that behavior should occur, and who needs to work on what aspects of their character. When a child achieves a goal, you can easily recognize him or her with a gold star or a hug.  Yep, just a gold star or a hug!  Sure, older children are more likely to require a tangible reward, but take advantage of the power of those hugs while you can! 

Behavior Charts Really Work

Behavior charts eliminate confusion by helping you enforce a consistent parenting strategy while you improve behavior across the board. Having clear “Do” and “Don’t” sections keeps thorny complications from developing. What's important to note is that improving behavior isn’t just about your child; it’s about improving your response time as a parent, too. The most frustrating thing for parents and children is when behavior goes unrecognized or when there is no clear standard of what parents expect. Children respond extremely well to positive reinforcement. However, if a child performs a given task or acts a certain way and receives no encouragement for that performance, he is far less likely to want to do it again in the future.

Where is the incentive? With behavior charts, you can ensure that everyone gets exactly what they deserve. Over time, the behavior chart becomes a reminder instead of a motivator. Children will begin to want to perform tasks or behave in a certain way because they remember what a good feeling they received when they finished a task. Most children want to be helpful and receive the genuine admiration and appreciation of their parents.  This is what psychologists mean by "intrinsic motivation."  This term indicates the desire for young children to behave in a certain way merely because it feels good.  They don't need a toy or a piece of candy, just a "good job" and a pat on the head is enough to keep them motivated.  Young children who receive this type of reward are less likely to need substantial tangible rewards as they get older because they will retain that "it feels good to be good" character as they grow. 

Use Rewards with Behavior Charts

Ah, but what are the best rewards?  How do you determine what rewards to use to motivate your child?  The reality is that very young children don't need tangible rewards. School-aged children may respond better to a small tangible reward, but don't belittle the power of time with mom and dad.  Middle school and high school kids may need larger rewards, but you'll be working with behavior charts that span a longer time period, so a larger reward becomes more practical.

Here's how it works...

Preschoolers: Very young children are intrinsically motivated.  Take advantage of this while you can and build lifelong good habits.  Kids this age need little more than the excitement of watching their chart fill up with checks or stars and will respond very well to an enthusiastic "you did it!" along with a happy dance. 

Elementary Age Children: Ideally, kids of any age would be thrilled with a happy dance, and, although watching mom and dad prance around the house would certainly be entertaining, we live in a materialistic society that teaches kids that they must receive an actual reward when they do something.  Don't fight this; use it to your advantage.  In actuality, you don't need to incorporate a huge reward for a job well done.  Think about how excited your child gets when she goes to the dentist and is rewarded with a small toy from the treasure chest for being a brave little soldier.  You too can keep a treasure chest (or shoe box) of small, inexpensive rewards like stickers, toy cars, costume jewelry, etc. to motivate your child.

Middle and High School Age Kids: Yes, behavior charts work for older kids too.  Sure, you are not likely to get your older child to help you color a chart anymore, but she will still respond well to the motivation of a visual chart system or online points system.   Because older kids have longer attention spans, you don't need to set up a chart for a weekly reward, but instead you can work on a monthly, bi-monthly, or even longer span of time.  Because the goals are generally greater and the time span is longer, the reward can be equally impressive.  If your child wants that xBox, he'll have to master that bad behavior to get one. 

A chart makes it easy to see not only what needs to be done, but what’s happened in the past. For example, if you have a large household project coming up, you can plan with your child how best to accomplish the many tasks that will need to occur before the project can be finished. Based on your child’s past performance, you can anticipate how long it will take to get certain tasks done.

Part of the fun of having a chart is incorporating your child into the planning process. Your child will appreciate being made to feel as if he plays a part in controlling his destiny and contributing to the overall well-being of the household. In an increasingly busy age, chaos tends to reign in both the office and domestic spheres. Luckily, Kidpointz charts come in all shapes and sizes, and can be laminated, too. It’s easy to FedEx the chart to your home or office so you can get started on helping your children appreciate the relationship between a task and its reward.