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Developing a Positively Based Behavior Program
For children 2 through 12
STEP 1: Decide on three behaviors you want to ENCOURAGE:
- The goals should be positive (e.g., Sally will keep her hands to herself rather than Sally won’t hit)
- The goals should be concrete and measurable if possible (e.g., Sally will be ready for school by 8 am)
- The goals should be short and concise.
- A child can draw a picture of the goal to make it more understandable.
STEP 2: Decide on a reward:
- Rewards should be nontangible. Extra play time, sleepovers, game nights and outings for lunch are examples of nontangible rewards.
- Rewards can be immediate or delayed. An immediate reward is something that is earned after a goal is achieved that day (e.g., watch TV when homework is complete). A delay is a reward you wait for (e.g., earning pizza night for reaching goal at end of week).
STEP 3: Develop a system for tracking progress:
- Use a behavior chart to track progress on a weekly or daily basis. Use stickers, checks or smiling faces to record rewards.
- Use marbles in a jar to record progress.
STEP 4: Provide reward:
- If using a behavior chart the reward should be given if 75% of all possible checks were earned. (e.g. if there are 3 goals and 5 days for a total of 15 possible checks, 10 checks would earn a reward)
- If using a jar of marbles, determine how full jar needs to be.
STEP 5: Maintain program:
- Remember to change goals every few weeks to keep program fresh.
- Do not take away checks or marbles for inappropriate behavior. If significant inappropriate behavior is a problem, develop a takeaway or punishment system as a separate program.
- Put several rewards on slips of papers to be drawn randomly when a reward is earned.
- Remember that behavior programs are a means to establish habits not to bribe children. We all are rewarded for good behaviors.
- Consult with a professional for additional advice and guidance for more problematic behaviors.
Developed by Shanan R. Raines, Ph.D., Westhampton Family Psychologists, P.C.