How to Use Child Behaviour Charts Effectively and Successfully

Whenever I mention child behaviour charts to parents, I get an assortment of reactions.

Some refer to these charts as kids reward charts, child behaviour charts or sticker charts.  They are essentially the same thing…and used properly, they do work.

Some swear that they have tried using them and that they don’t work at all while others have never ventured down that road and cannot see how they would help.

The thing is, as with almost any new strategy you decide to use to modify your child’s behaviour or teach a new skill, you will most definitely need to have the following in place:

  • consistency in how you use the strategy
  • persistency in keeping it going for more than a couple of days
  • an understanding that with any new change, things may get worse before they get better

So let’s look at child behaviour charts or reward charts

It’s important to note here that child behaviour charts can be used to manage misbehaviour as well as encourage the learning of a new skill.

Remember to deal with only one behaviour at a time. If there are several behaviours that you would like to see change or improve in your child, pick the most important one and focus on that one on the chart.

If you put too many behaviours, you will be setting your strategy up to fail. You will end up getting confused and so will your child. So just one at a time.

You can use stamps, stickers or draw on happy faces on the chart, to show your child that he or she has achieved their goal and that you recognised that.   Consider it a form of praise.

To make it that little bit more interesting for your child, you could reinforce the desired behaviour by giving him or her a reward after having achieved a certain number of stickers or stamps.

Very important note here: the rewards don’t have to be expensive and actually don’t have to cost you any money at all.  Allow your child to do something that he or she likes e.g. helping with washing the car, cooking, going on a bike ride or extra time at the playground.

Even better, ask you child what they would like to get as a reward – but of course not everything goes!

Here are some guidelines for using a behaviour chart: (sample child behaviour chart below)

    • Have your child help you put the chart together.  Get everything you need e.g. pen, paper, ruler and stickers or stamps
    • Clearly explain to your child what he  needs to do in order for him to get a sticker of stamp.  State it in a positive manner e.g. “Stay in bed at bedtime,” as opposed to “Don’t get out of bed at bedtime.”
    • Tell your child how often  she will get a sticker or stamp.  Is it once a day or twice a day?  Be clear.  This may very well depend on the behaviour you are trying to encourage or modify.  If, for instance, you want your child to stay in bed at bedtime, then that would be one sticker a day.
    • Talk about how many stickers or stamps equate to a reward. Will your child get a reward after two stickers attained (see below) or after 3.  In order to encourage your child, make it easy at first e.g. he  gets a reward after two days and then make it harder to achieve as you progress.
    • Check with your child  understands how stickers are earned. It is really important that she has a good grasp of what is required of her. You need to all be on the same page.
    • Discuss with your child what the rewards will be – remember, it doesn’t have to cost any money
    • Explain to your child what the consequences for not doing as asked will be, e.g. if you do not stop jumping on the sofa as asked then I will turn off the telly for 10 mins (managing misbehaviour)
    • Always give your child their reward when she achieves her goal.  Do this as soon as possible.
    • Should your child not achieve his goal, please don’t berate, don’t criticise or mark the chart in anyway and definitely don’t take away stickers or stamps that he have earned away.

Child behaviour charts are a meant to be used in the short-term. Gradually phase out the chart as your child progresses by making rewards less predictable.  Give her, her rewards every now and then.

Don’t forget to continue praising your child for good behaviour and using logical consequences for problem behaviours.

Need help getting this done? Then give me a call for your free 30 mins consultation – 07850 85 60 66


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