how to make behavior charts work

Pick a small number of behaviors to track

Are you working on one particular skill, like teaching your child to brush his or her teeth twice a day, or doing homework without prompting? If so, a single behavior chart like “I brushed my teeth” or “I did my homework” would be most appropriate.

Are you trying to get your child to help more around the house? Are you finding that getting your child to do chores is, well… a chore? Pick 3-5 chores that you want them to do consistently, and track them with a chore chart.

Choose rewards that your child finds motivating

In case you’re feeling squeamish about using rewards with your child, don’t be.

Rewards are sometimes equated with bribes, but they are not the same. If you agree with your child in advance that earning 5 stickers for doing chores gets them a trip to an ice cream store or an extra 30 minutes of iPad time, that’s a reward, not a bribe. (A bribe would be promising a child the trip to the ice cream store in the heat of the moment when she’s having a meltdown and refusing to do her assigned chore).

For your reward system to work, the rewards need to be something your child finds motivating.

It doesn’t mean that the reward has to be big.

Establish a link between the behavior and the rewards

Let’s say you’re working on your child’s toothbrushing behavior, and you want him to brush his teeth twice daily. Let’s say the reward is a trip to your child’s favorite park.

Now all you have to do is to be clear how many stickers your child needs to earn to get the reward.

An example could be “brush your teeth twice a day for 3 days in a row – without skipping – and I’ll take you to your favorite park”.