Developing a Positively Based Behavior Program

For children 2 through 12

STEP 1: Decide on three behaviors you want to ENCOURAGE:

    1. The goals should be positive (e.g., Sally will keep her hands to herself rather than Sally won’t hit)
    2. The goals should be concrete and measurable if possible (e.g., Sally will be ready for school by 8 am)
    3. The goals should be short and concise.
    4. A child can draw a picture of the goal to make it more understandable.

STEP 2: Decide on a reward:

    1. Rewards should be nontangible. Extra play time, sleepovers, game nights and outings for lunch are examples of nontangible rewards.
    2. 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: 

    1. Use a behavior chart to track progress on a weekly or daily basis. Use stickers, checks or smiling faces to record rewards.
    2. Use marbles in a jar to record progress.

STEP 4:  Provide reward:

    1. 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)
    2. If using a jar of marbles, determine how full jar needs to be.

STEP 5:   Maintain program:

    1. Remember to change goals every few weeks to keep program fresh.
    2. 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.
    3. Put several rewards on slips of papers to be drawn randomly when a reward is earned.
    4. Remember that behavior programs are a means to establish habits not to bribe children. We all are rewarded for good behaviors.
    5. 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.