A behavior chart can be an effective way for parents, teachers, and students to monitor positive behaviors. It is an easy way to document and visualize how well a student is doing with a specific goal. A teacher creates one or two target behaviors and sets up a time frame. When the student is successful during the stated period of time, he earns a sticker, smiley face, stamp, or checkmark in the appropriate box. If a set amount of stickers are earned, he receives a reward.
- The target behavior should be clearly stated. Ex. Elise will keep her hands to herself during class. A poor example would be Elise will not hit other children during class. When expectations are stated in the negative, it often increases a person’s desire to engage in negative behavior. Additionally, it sets up the stage for similar behaviors with the excuse You said I couldn’t hit. You never said I couldn’t pinch.
- Carefully consider the time frame a student must engage in the positive behavior prior to earning the sticker. If the student must demonstrate the positive behavior all day, a slip up at 8:20 leaves an entire day with no motivation to improve. However, if you are monitoring too frequently, it can be exhausting. When in doubt, start with many short time frames. When the student is able to master the short time frames, begin making them longer.
- Choose only one or two target behaviors for the behavior chart. Too many behaviors can be overwhelming. Pick the one or two on which to focus. Eventually, if those behaviors are successfully changed, you can pick up a more advanced skill.
- Consider age and ability level when developing the chart. If the chart is too complicated for the student, there is no motivation to continue.
- Let the student take as much responsibility as possible. When she helps create the chart or have input into it, there is a greater chance of success. Ideally, it would be a good idea to let the student learn to self monitor, but one must gradually get to that point.
- Consistency! A teacher must be consistent. If the student did not earn the sticker, don’t give in to pleas and give it anyway. If the student earns a sticker, be eager to offer praise and encouragement with the reward. If you forget to offer the sticker, apologize to the student and take a few moments to get caught up.