Tag Archives: parenting

behavior charts


So. Eight years after having my first child, I have finally joined the world of behavior charts. It took me forever (like the meal planning) because… I was scared it would be too hard and I wouldn’t follow-through and I wouldn’t like my system. Yeah. I know.

Version 1 (which lasted more than a month) was simply a sheet of paper divided into three sections- one for each kid- that was taped to the fridge for all to see. They could earn 1 star sticker per day. Once they reached 10 stars, they could pick a prize out of a shoebox full of small goodies. This was a big hit. All three kids can count to ten and were able to keep track. Once someone earned 10 stars, I crossed those out with a red pen and we started over again the next day. Simple.

Basic Rules:

  • Stars are awarded after dinner/just before bedtime by a parent only.
  • If you don’t eat your dinner, you don’t get your star for the day. End of story.
  • If you kick, bite, or hit someone during the day, you lose a star. Done.
  • If you were caught doing something amazingly wonderful that day, you might earn an extra star.

The kids quickly found themselves on different numbers. I think Ry earned 4 prizes in 4 weeks. Abby refuses to eat dinner a lot, so she missed a few days. Gideon is all or nothing on life. Having siblings earning prizes on different days was not a problem for this crew. If anything, seeing the options in the prize box each time it came out was incentive to do better.

Prize Box Contents:

tictacs, chapstick, stickers, punching balloons, lego people, small beanie babies, spray bottles, and basically anything you’d find in the Target dollar aisle.

Problems with Version 1: it got messy after a few rounds of 10 with all the stars crossed out. We were going through a lot of star stickers. Kids (my kids) were fighting about which star sticker they got for the night. COME ON.

One particularly rough day (ahem), I pulled the star sheet off the fridge and ripped it up. NO STARS FOR ANYONE TODAY. (I’m not here because I’m awesome. I’m here because I’m honest.)

NOW. Yesterday, I created Version 2 with all the new hope that comes with starting over. Version 2 uses the same basic rules and rewards as Version 1. Each kiddo has a piece of card stock paper- again with their name, and again on the fridge for all to see. I changed things up a bit by stamping a simple “path” of stars numbered 1 through 10. Each kid has a magnet that travels forward or backward according to behavior. Once someone reaches 10, they get a prize and start over at 1 the next day.

FLAW: (noticed as soon as tall 8-year-old returned from school) Charts and magnets must be taller than tallest child.IMG_8348

Ideally, I’d like to combine the behavior chart with the daily schedule*/chores for each kiddo on a metal pan (like this) when we move to the Blue House this summer and have bit more wall space. Or maybe I’ll incorporate a clothespin system (like this). The kids LOVE seeing everything- having fun masking tape and colors and numbers and THEIR NAMES up… that’s super fun. Keeping the rules simple makes my expectations and their progress clear.

Mom just needs it to be simple.

So far, we all win.

* Right now we use a visual schedule with Ry that is identical to one she uses at school. It’s simply words and/or pictures on velcro that are exchanged each day. This has been incredible for her. Her anxiety goes way down when she can loosely plan out the day, even choosing free-time activities. I’ll show you how that works as soon as I snag some photos.




My children do not listen.

Put your seatbelt on, grab your shoes, you’ll lose that trinket if you yell out again. Brush your teeth, stop itching, you cannot draw on the furniture- again.

My children do not listen.

It is warm out side, wear shorts. It is cold outside, grab  your coat. You are going too fast, you are going to slow, you’re going to get hurt. Where is your helmet?

My children do not listen.

Dinner is in an hour, your dad is at work, your cousins are camping. We’ve gone over this a thousand times- today.

My children do not listen.

It has become my silent mantra: my children do not listen. When I’m making dinner, when I’m re-finding shoes, when I’m driving and solving the world’s problems: MY CHILDREN DO NOT LISTEN. A marching beat. A rhythm. An excuse and explanation.

I’m not saying it’s beautiful. I’m just… saying.

They could not hear me saying it, but no doubt they could feel it. Kids feel exasperation. It is perhaps the emotion they are most in-tune with, amen? Somewhere deep inside I thought, “I am bigger than this. I can change this.” My thoughts and self-talk and episodes have always run on their own power… but what if, for once, I could turn it around? What if I could actually change my mind? And so the next time those words ran across my inner screen, I molded them into a different story.

My children, do not listen. 

Do not listen to those who will tell you’re too little, too small, too young. You are exactly the right size, age, and character to do AMAZING THINGS.

My children, do not listen.

Do not listen to the silence of fear begging you to stay behind. Seek out the lonely, wear the striped stockings, hug your family. Grow. Laugh loudly. Cry earnestly. Love fiercely. It is not safe, but that is not reason to stand still. Wear a helmet.

My children, do not listen.

Ignore the hesitation that comes with change. Push onward, push out. The view up ahead is fantastic, and it will not come to you. You have to run, skip, and jump to it!

My children, do not listen.

Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can never hurt you? That is a lie. Bones heal. Words seep into the cracks and grow into insecurity, chronic bruises. Words stick. So, you choose your words carefully. You make them beautiful and big and heart-felt. Strong and true and soft. You will never regret being kind, and you will never hurt irreparably by speaking love.

My children, do not listen.

The world will shower you with comparison and doubt. But you ARE enough. You are exactly enough.

I can do this.

I can change the words.