March 2, 2012

~Behavior Chart~

If you didn't already know, Landon likes to keep me on my toes and is always having me change my parenting style. He tends to have some behavioral problems at home, thankfully it doesn't seem to cross over into his school day. It is like he keeps it all bottled up while at school and then pops the top to that bottle once he gets home. He has always been very sensitive, I could not run the vacuum when he was a baby as he would just start bawling from the loud noise. Just before he was three we were in a big city, walking downtown. He could not handle the loud noise of the city and would not walk, Ted had to carry him as Landon covered his ears to soften the noise. He has outgrown this. Then it was smells. Oh. My. Word. If he smelled something fowl, it would ruin his entire day (and try to ruin everyones around him). I would have to have an air freshener for him handy at all times, if he smelled something he didn't like I would give him that to smell and it helped a lot. This he has also outgrown, he still doesn't like fowl smells but has learned to cope much better. Tags. Oh, how this boy hats tags. Tags on pants, tags on shirts, tags on gloves, hats, whatever. Tags must go, they make him itch. If he is itchy, he is mad, if he is mad, let's just say he doesn't want anyone else to be anything but mad with him. I wouldn't say he has outgrown this, but again is doing much better about not overreacting about an itchy tag. Socks, they have to be just perfect. Anyways, I could go on and on and add so many stories but I think you get the jist of it. He has heightened senses and sometimes has a hard time dealing with them. His quick fuse has been a problem in other areas as well, and what we were doing wasn't working for him or for me. I will admit that I have a problem with raising my voice, I hate when I do it but I have a hard time controlling it. It is the one thing that I am always working very hard on not doing as my duties as a mom. That brings me to our behavior chart, not only has Landon's at home behavior really improved. I can't remember the last time I have raised my voice with the kids. Win, win!

I first saw this idea in Landon's classroom. It is a color chart, you start on green, move up the chart for good behaviors and down for unacceptable behaviors. I decided to give it a try at home. We have been using the chart for about a month now, and Ted proclaimed it "my best idea of the year". We try to focus on just good behaviors, and reward that with moving up. For example, say Ethan is pestering Trevor and Trevor either tells me or ignores it. Instead of moving Ethan down, I would reward Trevor for making a good choice and move him up. That almost always stops whoever is not being the best boy, and I notice that then the other boys want move up so that they are as high on the chart as their brothers. Again, win, win! Like Landon's classroom chart, we start on green every morning. Our chart has a couple extra colors than the classroom chart. Above green you can move up to purple (for making good choices), and then above that is blue (for outstanding). Below green you can move down to yellow (as a warning to make better choices), then below that is orange (you would loose something here, like if they are fighting over a toy they lose that toy), and at the very bottom is red (if you get to the bottom you are in a time out). I now realize since we have been using this chart that we were overly using the time outs. Time outs were also not effective, now it takes a lot longer to get to the point of a time out and if one does get to that point it is over something serious and is much more effective.

Our time outs are much different now, as well. This entire chart is about them making their own choices and decisions, and then dealing with the outcome of those choices. If they get to red and need to take a time out, they are sent to a quiet place away from everyone and then are told they can come out of time out whenever they want to, that is whenever they feel like they are ready to make better choices. As soon as they decided this, they get to move up to orange and be out of time out. Before we were setting a timer and then said they could come out once the timer went off, that just didn't work for us. By giving them the decision of how long they are in time out, they really do change their moods and come out of time out ready to make good choices. Before, they often would just be sent right back into time out. Also, they usually are not in time out very long. Sometimes this is not the case, and they need more time to mellow out and be in a better mood, but it seems like the majority of the time it is much less than I would have set the timer for. What happens when they end up on blue for the day, you ask. Well, I made punch cards with their names on them and when they end up on blue they get two punches plus 10 minutes of free time before bed (Trevor loves to have yo-nanas as his free time, Landon like to play on the ipad for his), on purple and they get one punch and 10 minutes of free time, on green they get one punch. Once they fill their punch cards they get a prize. Trevor just filled his yesterday and he got the full version of Where's My Water for the ipad ($0.99). Landon is close to filling his (it is actually full, but I will get to that next) and said he wants to go bowling once it is full. Once your card is full you have to be on blue in order to get a prize. Landon filled his card yesterday, but was only on  green (and that was a generous green!) so he didn't get his prize yet. I know he will be working really hard tonight to get to blue!

Another plus from our behavior chart is that they try really hard to get to the top, and go out of their way to pick up, be nice, and help around the house. Ethan is so cute and always doing stuff like putting his dishes in the dish pan, or picking up toys, and then asking, "Can I move up?". Ted thinks I need to come up with an app. for my phone so that we can have the chart on the go. I wonder if there is already an app. like that?

Here is our chart, I did a google image search to get some ideas and then put those ideas together and made our own. It is really big, but I think the big visual aspect of it helps a lot. I have it taped on our fridge, and then taped the punch cards onto magnets. (yes, it wouldn't be mine if it didn't have a typo! *Loose, should be lose on the orange).


kdactyl said...

Nicholle....I LOVE this! We have had a chart before but it was targeting certain behaviours so was not quite so versatile as this one. With just william at the right age for this now....I'm not so sure this would have quite the effect here as at your house....but it is AWESOME in concept. I stole a system from Super Nanny. I bought a bunch of ping pong balls and put them in a bag. Then I put an empty Vase on the counter. Every time William makes good choices (we use the same choice/consequence language you do) he gets to move a ball from the bag to the Vase. Once the vase is full (~40 ping pong balls) he gets a prize. However...if he makes a bad choice (hitting sissy, talking back, not listening)...we remove a ball and put it back in the bag. We have had the Vase for only a week and so far he is doing well. He has mostly earned the balls but has lost a few too and that vizual representation and the physical act of taking the ball out of the vase and putting it back in the bag has really helped him understand that choices have consequenses. I think he will finally earn his prize in the next couple days and I will be thrilled to give it to him. I think this may only last awhile...most of these methods get boring to kids over I totally intend to steal your color chart for my next behviour modification efforts! Thanks for posting.


Rudolph Family said...

Nicholle this is awesome. What I love best about it is it is Love and Logic and I'm a huge fan of that. Love and Logic has turned behavior around in our house!
We always used one similiar in our pre-k rooms but it was more of a stop light and only had negative consequences with little to no chance to move back up. I love that your starts in the middle and includes rewards for good behavior! I also love that after having a consequence for moving to red they immediatly get moved back to orange!!!
What are you using for a punch card btw! How many punches are on it? I know you have limited internet right now but if it's something you can email would you?
I am totally steeling this idea! We've been using a marble jar but it's been ineffective. Instead they get a quarter to put in their Good Behavior jars and we just took it to the bank and they bought a swing with their money! I could still give them the quarters they could get a punch, and a quarter!


Nicholle said...

Punch cards I made from some thicker paper that I had on hand. I cut them into rectangles, wrote their name in the middle and then numbers around the outer edges to punch off. We started small and after each card they fill I add more punches onto the next card, making it just a bit harder to get a "prize". I am pretty sure we started at 12 punches, then it went up to 16, then 20. I have the cards just taped onto magnets...If you are not using a magnetic system, Landon's classroom has clothespins that you clip on the side on the chart on the color said kiddo is on

the boys decided mom and dad needed cards too, lol. They actually move me up on the chart a lot!

DJ said...

An excellent implementation and description of a behavior chart - and focusing on rewards over punishment.

I think I'll be using it as an example in upcoming articles on the web site (unless I hear to the contrary from you). That will also include a link to this page on