Oh, mamas. This mama over here just implemented a behavior chart, and I’m here to tell you all about it. In this post I’ll share why I felt like we could benefit from a “behavior chart”, how I implemented it and how it’s working so far. Plus, I’ll share with you how to get my template for your own behavior chart for your kids!
First, let’s talk about WHY I decided to create a behavior chart.
I feel like every day my children get older, I venture farther into uncharted (by me) territory. My kids are now 6 years, 4 years, and 3 months old. Of course, my biggest, Kaiper, leads the way in teaching me new lessons about parenthood. Over the past few months, Kaiper and Alana have been challenging me when it comes to discipline and especially their own relationship. They have been in a season of trying to kill each other, trying to be independent but also sometimes wanting to be the baby, and testing the limits of what they can “get away with”. Enter the behavior chart.
Lately I feel like we’ve been spinning our wheels with discipline. I almost feel as if the chart is more for us as parents then it is for the kids. What I mean by that is, it’s a guide for us so we don’t slack off. We’re in a time of transition as a family, having a new baby in the house, and it’s easy to “threaten” discipline and even easier not to follow through on it. Do that enough, and your kids know you’re all bark, no bite. (Before the internet trolls bombard me with hate messages, I would never bite my kid.) The point is, if you don’t do what you say you’re going to do, kids figure out very quickly that they don’t need to listen to you.
We needed a change, an easy system for us to follow so expectations and consequences are set, understood, and followed through on by all. So that is why I sat down one day and created a behavior chart, or as I chose to call it, a Daily Choices Chart.
Now, let’s talk about HOW we’ve implemented the behavior chart.
I already mentioned that I created our behavior chart myself, after looking at several other examples online. While I saw some that I liked that were similar, but not exactly what I wanted. I wanted to choose specific words for the “levels” above and below “Brand New Day”. After I printed them, I borrowed a friend’s laminating machine (as a homeschool mom, are you shocked I don’t have one of my own?). To put them on the wall, I had a vision of cute wooden clipboards in my head that they would hang on, but since I am currently sticking to a budget, I decided the purchase was just not necessary right now. So, for now, until we repaint here soon, they’re just stuck on the wall with clear thumb tacks.
Next came talking to the kids about their new behavior charts.
I really thought they might cringe or try to run away when I presented the charts and explained their purpose. To my pleasant surprise, instead they got really, really excited. They could NOT wait to “move up to blue”. On day one, it actually prompted them to run to their room, pick up all of their toys, make their beds, and give me bribery hugs and kisses. I’ve got to tell you, day one was enough to make the whole behavior chart thing worth it. However, we’re almost a week in and every day has been great! We haven’t had such a great, smooth week in a long time.
For us, this is how the Daily Choices Chart works:
- Every morning, they start on green. It’s a Brand New Day!
- When I notice they are making great choices, I tell them to move up to blue.
- Throughout the day, if I notice they are going “above & beyond” to be a helper, be kind, share, things like that, I tell them to go move to dark blue.
- If I see bad choices, I give them one warning and remind them that they’ll have to move down on their chart. (A few times now, Alana has moved to yellow (Oops) for hitting her brother when he doesn’t do as she wishes.)
I feel like one warning is fair, because we all make bad choices (complain, wine, snap at other people).
- After that one warning, if bad choices continue, they have to move to Oops, on the yellow. They can come back from Oops and go back up though!
- From there, if it continues, they go to orange where they would have to sit out and “think about it”.
- And of course, on red they lose a privilege, which for us will be for 1 week if we get to that point.
- At the end of each day, if they end the day above green without being on orange or red, they get a check mark. A full week, or seven check marks, in a row, and they get a treat. This could simply mean ice cream at home, a trip to a special fun place, making cookies with mommy, anything that feels “special”.
I have been pleasantly surprised that so far, tough behavior has been easily squashed and eliminated by simply reminding them that they don’t want to get down to orange or red on their charts.
Honestly, I think as adults we could benefit from our own behavior charts.
For real though, how often do we complain, wine, even throw fits or make “bad choices”? We literally do things every single day that we scold our children for, while forgetting they are just smaller humans than we are. Using these Daily Choices Charts has actual been a good check for me for my own attitude and choices. I need to be very aware of the choices I am making, including the daily choice to have a positive attitude which sets the tone for my entire family each day.
How to Get Your Copy of the Daily Choices Chart
I have made two versions of the Daily Choices Chart available on Etsy.
If you would like the chart, as seen above, customized with your child’s name on it, visit this Etsy listing.
If you would like the chart, with just the header and no name as an instant download, visit this Etsy listing.
So far, our behavior chart has changed life as we know it. If that starts to change, I will update this blog post because I want to share the full experience and keep it real with you all. If you have questions or comments, I would love for you to leave a comment here. Also, even if you don’t want to get a copy of the Daily Choices Chart, if you found this post helpful at all, I would really appreciate it if you pinned it on Pinterest so others may find it!
Update as of 2/29/20 on How We Have Been Doing with the Behavior Chart:
Wow, it has really been almost a year since I wrote this post? I did promise that I would update this blog post if our usage of the behavior chart changed. Better late to deliver on that promise than never, right?
So how have we been doing with using the behavior chart lately? We haven’t. We honestly have not been using it at all. BUT, I think this is a testament to how well it worked for us. After a while of using it, we were just in this good rhythm. The kids knew what to expect if they didn’t listen or made bad choices, and I knew what my action would have to be without having to agonize over parenting decisions during the exhaustion of a chaotic day.
I think using the chart for a while just trained us well, and got us into new positive habits. It made me more intentional about acknowledging positive behavior, and more consistent with consequences for bad choices.
But then it came to a time that we just naturally didn’t seem to need it, so we sort of just gradually stopped using it. Now do my children act like saints now? Um, that’s a hard no. But, any time things start to get a little crazy one of them will say, “I think we need to hang our charts back up.” Then we all laugh and it’s like an instant reset, because we know the habits that the chart instilled.
So there’s your update. We are not currently using the chart, yet we still kind of are, because it got us into good habits and we keep it as a reminder when we need it.
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Hi, I’m Jessica! I am wife to Chris, and mom to Kaiper, Alana and Koa. I am a graphic designer, website developer and aspiring author. In this space, I share about everything from parenting, working from home, food we cook, and lots of things for kids! Learn more about me here.