Using a Behavior Chart to Manage Child Behavior

A well-designed (and properly enforced) child behavior chart can be highly effective as a behavior management tool. Behavior charts can be used to not only monitor a child’s behavior, but to systematically improve that behavior as well.

A poorly designed behavior chart, however, can prove ineffective if the child’s expectations are too vague or unrealistic. A chart such as this can lead to more confusion and less compliance, ultimately resulting in frustration for everyone involved.

So how can a parent tell if a behavior chart is well-designed or poorly-designed?

To be effective, a behavior chart should consist of 3 important elements:

1. It should clearly state the behavioral expectations of the child. 2. It should track the child's ability to meet the behavioral expectations. 3. It should reward the child when behavioral expectations are met and provide consequences when those same expectations are not met. (Rewards and consequences will be most effective if they are tied into the child's daily privileges.)

It is also important not to place too many expectations on the child at first. Ideally, it would be best to list 3 or 4 specific behaviors (“goals”) that the child should be working on. For older children and teens, 5-8 behaviors are acceptable.

Once the behavior chart is ready to be used, it is then recommended that a “family meeting” be set up to discuss the terms and conditions of the chart. Each expectation should be clearly stated and/or explained so that there is no room for misinterpretation.

Parents will need to be firm and consistent with regards to enforcing the terms of the behavior chart. Inconsistency and/or a lack of firmness will assure failure.

If you are looking for a well-designed child behavior chart that is practically ready to be used upon printing, then you are in luck! Below you will find links to two different parenting sites that offer pre-written behavior charts (as well as a variety of other parenting tools) that can be downloaded immediately and put to use with minimal preparation.

About the Author: Chris Theisen is the author of the parenting websites,,,