How to Motivate Kids with Behavior Charts
Behavior charts, also called reward charts or star charts, can be effective tools to teach kids behavior management skills. Not only do behavior charts help kids control negative behaviors, they can also be used to provide structure when children have daily tasks or routines.
When using behavior charts, it's important to remember a few things:
If you approach the behavior chart as a fun activity, your kids will too...especially younger kids. Use your "behavior chart time" as a wonderful opportunity to interact with your child.
Decide on a behavior chart theme and a behavior chart "marker".
Maybe your child likes superheroes, butterflies or maybe both! Pick a fun theme or change themes every week. We have loads of different themes to choose from!
Next, have your child decide how he would like to mark the behavior chart. Some options include marking a space with a crayon, marker or colored pencil. Or, use one of our printable stickers or buy some stickers or stars for your behavior charts. You can even use a stamp! Enjoy some special time with your child while you visit a store to pick out chart markers!
Expecting perfection is unrealistic. In order to keep kids positive about their behavior charts, adults need to stay positive too! Kids can be impulsive and have less ability to stop and think about their behavior. They will slip and make mistakes. We all do. Teach your child some self-compassion when she slips, and move on! There will always be another chance to improve.
Use rewards that involve special time with family and friends as much as possible.
Rewards can be inexpensive and simple. The best rewards are special time spent with family and friends such as a movie date with dad or ice cream with grandma. Or encourage participation in family activities by letting a child pick a movie on family movie night or pick a special dinner. And if you are going to use material rewards, keep it simple. Dollar store items are great as well as stickers, crayons or markers. You can also use our printable reward coupons or printable reward certificates
Give positive feedback regularly.
We like to get positive feedback in our jobs. Kids also love positive feedback, and sometimes the positive feedback is enough to help motivate behavior change. Let your child know that you notice her efforts! See our page of 75 Ways to Say Good Job. Even if he doesn't get a sticker for the day, let him know that there's always another day to try, and give him some encouraging words. And in the moment, give positive feedback. For example, you might say, "I like how you put your clothes in the hamper instead of on the floor," or "thank you for using an inside voice!" Praise and encouragement work wonders!
For more tips, visit our page on How to Use Behavior Charts for Kids! And if you'd like to see our behavior charts in action, visit our page of Example Behavior Charts!
by Joanne McNulty, MS
Updated June 20, 2018