Behavior charts that focus on positive behaviors can be an effective way of having kids work towards a goal. With regular use of a printable behavior chart, parents can help kids achieve an attitude improvement in a fun and positive way. Keep reading to get your free printable behavior charts for kids, as well as lots of tips on how behavior charts work.
Do Behavior Charts Actually Work?
Depending upon the child, yes behavior charts can absolutely work towards improving daily attitude and actions. Some kids will really take to the use of a behavior chart.
Right away that child will correct behavior in the moment, knowing it may affect getting that check mark on the chart. I’ve been using a behavior chart with my son (now 10 years old) since he was 2 years old to great effect.
How to Use Behavior Charts with Kids
Behavior charts must be used consistently in order for them to be effective. If you print the chart but never use it, then it’s probably not going to work!
In order to be used effectively, your expectations must be clearly expressed to your child. The positive behavior chart is not a way to shame your child. Behavior charts should be a positive way of redirecting your child. The charts model desirable conduct and remind kids of personal goals.
While printable behavior charts seem to work best for preschoolers, they can be very effective in redirecting behaviors in toddlers and elementary aged kids as well. For preteens, try using this free printable daily checklist, to minimize nagging and encourage life skills.
Free Printable Behavior Charts for Kids
Place the printed behavior chart in a prominent place so that it’s not going to be forgotten. Good locations could include a magnet on the fridge or near your child’s bed.
Personally, I make it a habit to mark up my kids’ charts before they wake up, documenting the previous day. Checking the behavior chart is usually my daughter’s first stop in the morning so he can see how many stars she received!
Getting to the Root of Behavior Issues
Naturally your goal in all this is to work towards NOT having to use a daily behavior chart. Desired behavior and the skills you’ve been working on will start to come more naturally with time and with age of your child.
Focus MORE on the proper behaviors! Keep the behavior that you want to see at the forefront, constantly praising the good behaviors that you see throughout the day. If you’re seeing a lot of meltdowns, read more about stopping tantrums in toddlers and preschoolers.
How to Model Good Behavior for Children
If inappropriate or undesirable behaviors surface through the day, remind your child about the behavior chart. Sometimes all I have to do is ask my child if they want to receive a star for a particular task. That’s enough to redirect them and remind that they won’t get the star if they don’t meet their goal.
Adapt the good behavior chart to suit your child when they start to lose interest. Change up the skills, point system and incentives to encourage better behavior if you see lagging.
What About “Bad” Behaviors?
For the purpose of this article I use the words “good” or “positive” behaviors. This is not to say that if kids do not meet the goals of the behavior chart that they are considered “bad”. Children should never be classified as such and this is not a demand of, “Good behavior, or else”.
The word “bad” should not be used with children, only positive encouragement towards a shared objective. Kids should not be punished for missing the mark, only rewarded when they meet the goals you’ve set together.
Explaining the Chart With Your Child
Before beginning, work with your child to create the most successful chart that will work for your family. These are the steps to take when introducing a behavior chart:
- Show your child the following free printable behavior charts for kids. Let them choose the one they want.
- Set a goal together. Setting an attainable goal is important when it comes to these good behavior charts. Otherwise kids won’t have anything to work towards! Decide how many “points” each child should receive in order to earn their prize.
- When first implementing a good behavior chart, consider making the first week “easy” for kids to succeed. Choose behaviors you know won’t be too challenging.
- Explain the expected behaviors to your child. For non-readers, the child should be able to memorize their daily goals. At first you might just add two items to the list, eventually building up to 5.
- Kids can only earn points, but can’t lose them. Resist the urge to remove points when kids backslide or act up. Consider offering bonus points for excellent behavior that goes above and beyond what’s expected!
Kid-Appropriate Good Behavior Goals and Prizes
Prizes should not be expensive or elaborate. The idea is that the reward is a small incentive for kids to better themselves. After all, you want children to behave well even when they’re not getting a reward!
I’ve included a list of good behavior rewards that you can choose from, based on age-appropriateness of your child:
- Acquired time on electronics
- Later bedtime
- Art supplies, like sketchpads, crayons or a new coloring book
- Special dessert
- Fun outing, like the zoo or a picnic
- New book or e-book (we love these travel friendly Water Wow learning books)
- Digital movie purchase
- Package of stickers (like these sticker book collections)
- Pizza for dinner (or child’s choice for that meal)
- Puzzle or card game
- “Treasure Box” – fill a box with appropriate prizes you already have
- Money for their piggy bank
- Dollar Store visit
- Play date with a friend
- Fast food lunch
- A physical toy that’s already been purchased (put it in a place where the kids can see it but can’t touch it yet!)
- Movie theater
- T-shirt they choose at the store
- Bottle of bubbles
- Souvenir money earned for next vacation
- Sports activity equipment, like this playground ball
- Extra play time at the park
- Frozen yogurt
- Glow sticks
- Pack of gum
Need Printer Ink for the Free Behavior Chart Printables?
With all the distance learning schoolwork lately, my printer is going into overdrive. I minimized the heavy colors in these free printable behavior charts so the printables won’t suck up all your ink in one page!
Having a printable that features your kid’s favorite colors can be important to them, so I did include color in the behavior charts. You can change out to print in black and white if you prefer.
One awesome option is to sign up for HP Instant Ink. It’s a mail-order subscription service for printer ink so you’ll never run out! On the HP Instant Ink program, you printer is connected remotely to HP through your HP Home Printer so they’ll send you ink before you need it.
You’ll be able to amend based on your printing needs. And the cost is really great (plus it saves you a trip to the store). Sign up for HP Instant Ink and receive a free month on the program!
How Do You Create a Behavior Chart?
When designing these good behavior charts for kids, I decided to leave slots open for parents to complete. Naturally each child has their own issues and personal struggles. Find a good balance of items to work on with your children. Our goal is to get kids to succeed and improve!
Add at least one “slam-dunk” item to your list that you know your child will be able to achieve daily. Seeing that check mark, star or sticker each day will be encouraging.
What Should Be Added to a Kid’s Behavior Chart?
When considering what items to add to the printable behavior chart, think about the daily struggles you have with your child. What are the things you’re repeating day after day to remind your child? Are there skills you’d like to encourage in each kid?
I’ve included a few ideas of items you might want to add to your daily chart, including personal care, housekeeping, and behaviors.
- Took a bath without struggle
- Brushed teeth – morning and night
- Dressed in the morning without prompting
- Washed hands after using bathroom
- Quiet play time
- Went to bed without struggle
- Stayed dry overnight (not wetting the bed) – Are you potty training? See this post for toddler potty training tips.
- Made the bed
- Cleaned up toys
- Helped with household chores (add in specific items, like dusting, bringing laundry to washing machine, emptying dishwasher, cleaning bathrooms, taking out trash, etc.)
- Pet care
- READ MORE: How to Get Kids to Help with Housework
Encouraging Life Skills
- Slept in own bed all night
- Cooperated with siblings
- Ate dinner without fussing or complaining
- 20 minutes of quiet reading or story time
- Practiced instrument
- Truthful and honest
- Followed parent’s requests the first time
- Kept hands to themselves
- Good sportsmanship
- Used words to explain frustration (without temper tantrums or meltdowns)
- Used an inside voice
- Using please and thank you without prompting
Free Printable Behavior Charts for Kids
I’ve created 21 behavior charts that you can fill in yourself. Some of the charts are only tracking behavior during the weekdays, leaving the weekends uncharted.
How you choose to mark off the achievements is up to you. I usually do a star or a check mark. You could also opt for a reward sticker that the child adds with your help.
Being the big Disney fan I am, I just had to create a few Disney themed behavior charts for kids! You’ll also find kid-friendly themes like unicorns, race cars, space ships as well as colorful generic themes. Let your child see the options and choose the theme that resonates with them.
Print Your Own Behavior Charts
Just click the title link to print at home! Set the print orientation as “Landscape”. Print without headers or footers. Scale the page “Shrink to Fit” so that all the elements will print within the sheet of paper.
Fall Holiday Behavior Charts
During the holiday season, you might note an uptick in kid’s behavior issues. The excitement of the season paired with a change in the regular routine might result in rougher than usual attitudes.
These fall holiday printables include several Halloween behavior charts and one to use during Thanksgiving break.
Winter Holiday Behavior Charts
Try one of these holiday theme printable behavior charts, special for the joyous season!
This article originally published April 10th, 2020 and has been updated and republished with a new date.