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Behavior charts are excellent parenting tools. Positive behavior is helped along by smart guidance and clear expectations. Good behavior charts can help you accomplish these goals in your family.

(Scroll down to find your free printable behavior charts now.)

First of all, behavior charts are NOT a punishment tool. I bring this up because if you ask kids, many (especially older children) will say that chore charts, free behavior charts, printable reward charts - any of these are really just a punishment in disguise.

Where did our kids come up with this idea?

If you use behavior charts alongside nagging, threatening or yelling, your child may get the idea that a chart of any kind is a bad thing!

Let's look at some guidelines for using behavior charts that can lead to positive results for everyone concerned.

  • Have a clear idea about what particular behavior you are helping your child improve.
  • Talk with your child upfront about this process. Point out specific examples of the problem behavior and WHY it's a problem. Your child may not see it as a problem behavior; if you can get your child to see the situation from your perspective, you'll have a much more willing participant on your hands. After all, everyone naturally wants things to go better in their lives. So start with a crystal clear awareness of the behavior issue.
  • Print out several behavior charts and customize them in different ways to address the behavior issue. Then talk with your child about the different approaches. Number the approaches according to your child's suggestions. This helps her take ownership of the process - and believe me, she is the owner of her behavior! (Here is a blank family chore chart.)
  • Together with your child, come up with appropriate consequences, both positive and negative, for following (or not following) the behavior chart. Make sure these are consequences she can actually do and you will actually enforce; otherwise they are worthless consequences and the behavior modification program will fail.

Print this Behavior Chart for older/elementary kids or Good Behavior Chart for younger/preschool kids (Requires a PDF file reader such as Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Behavior charts
Good behavior charts

Using good behavior charts properly means truly using them as a guidance tool and not as a weapon.

Does that make sense? This process looks like more work upfront and it is. The reality of parenting, however, is that generally the more solid work you put in upfront, the less problems you have on the backside.

That's why behavior charts are actually goal charts. If using the terminology of "goals" and "goal-setting" is more motivating to you and your child, then by all means, go that way.

Obviously this is somewhat age dependent, but trust me, even quite small children can be taught the concept of goal-getting. And they can get very excited about it.

Using a goal-oriented behavior chart system means your child can learn to appreciate the power behind identifying particular behaviors that are holding him back from the goals he has set for himself. He can learn, over time, behavior modification strategies to change his own behavior and then he can earn his own rewards for achieving his goals.

This is extremely powerful, which is why highly successfully adults use these behavioral ideas all the time.

This is the end result you want: your child using behavior charts to take responsibility for his own behavior.

Obviously, this behavior changing process will take time, especially if that's not the way you are used to working things out in your family.

Also, to be honest, you will have more success with this approach if you begin using some sort of behavior charts yourself, Mom or Dad.

Why? Because to lead your child into a new system which promotes positive personal growth, you need to understand where you're going. That's what being a leader is all about. And not only can you do this, but you will LOVE to do this because it will bring improvements in your own life you will enjoy, plus you may reap the rewards of a deeply strengthened relationship between you and your child.

You didn't know behavior charts could do so much, did you? (Smile!) To be honest, good behavior charts are just the tool, the goal-setting and goal-getting process itself is what does the real work. As you learn more about changing behaviors this way, you will find there is an abundance of tools available to you. One that will get you started firmly down this path is Brian Tracy's Super Parent Audio series. It's excellent.

Bottom line here? You can use behavior charts to restructure all kinds of behavior - given enough time and consistency.

Are there severe behavior examples where this process is not enough? Yes, I believe there are. Actually the process will need to be highly structured and focused for those children and their families who are struggling with more advanced behavior challenges. If this describes your family situation, RUN, don't walk to this article: "My Child's Behavior Is So Bad, Where Do I Begin?" How to Coach Your Child Forward.

You can do this! I want to encourage you, Mom or Dad. Parenting is certainly one of the most rewarding adventures you can embark on in life. Go for it!

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