Behavior Chart for a 5 Year Old and a 3 Year Old

Updated on January 09, 2011
S.K. asks from Diamond Springs, CA
12 answers

So my question is this, do you do two different charts with two different systems? My husband wants to create a system where the kids have ten points each day. He wants my 5 year old to start at the top and get points taken away for breaking the rules and he wants my 3 y/o to start at the bottom and earn points for following the rules. He wants them both to get "80%" for the day in order to recieve rewards (that are spelled out ahead of time, like extra tv time, or computer time, etc.). I have a problem with this system because my daughter can only go down, but she will get rewards if she doesn't go down. And my son can only go up, but he will get time outs for bad behavior. Does this seem like a fair way to do this? My thoughts had been to start them both at zero and they get to move up and down the chart based on good/bad behavior, and then at the end of the day if they reach the goal (80%) then they get their reward, and if they are below a certain point then they get a consequence. Are we arguing the same point, am I being inflexable? His way just doesn't seem right to me.

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answers from Honolulu on

I would not agree with that.
SO rigid.
Not fair.
Different ages... is different in expectations/assumptions/cognition. Developmentally. Developmentally....

I personally... do not 'reward' or dock or punish my kids, per points or percentages. I do it... per their behavior.... and per the rules we have as a family and just being decent or not, to each other.
That way, they learn how to behave.... not according to external 'rewards' or fears of punishment... but by their character and learning about how to behave.... and how what they do, impacts others.

I don't know... that is just me.

And, for the 3 and even 5 year old... will it even be CLEARLY understood by them? Can the 5 year old even get what 80% means??? what about the 3 year old???

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answers from Sacramento on

I never had any good results with charts for general behavior. A chart for short term, specific behavior issues may work well. We've done them for potty training, and later on for remembering to do all the little tasks involved when first coming in from school. I put each item that needed to be done on the chart and illustrated it with an icon of some sort. The charts were laminated and I provided a dry erase marker so the child could check off each item as it was done. The children felt rewarded because they enjoyed being able to check off the items by themselves (with a bit of adult help, of course for the younger ones doing the potty training charts) and they got a "good job" verbally from the adults. Little trinkets or treats as rewards really aren't necessary, and I feel may do more harm than good in most cases.

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answers from San Francisco on

Arh! Poor kids. Research says that behavior charts only reinforce extrinsic motivation. Time outs are also not a great option. There effectiveness is limited. Time in is a better option. If you want to build intrinsic motivation, then talk to your kids. The Post Institute & Beyond Consequences are great programs for helping kids to develop intrinsic motivation (the kind that helps them for a lifetime).

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answers from Pittsburgh on

There are other alternatives to reward charts and certainly to punishment. Google 'positive discipline' for some IMO much more effective ideas.

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answers from Bakersfield on

Hi Mama-
For kids that small, I think you should do a good behavior jar.
Each jar starts empty. Each full jar represents a final goal/prize/reward. Doing daily rewards can get to be...well, exhausting.
So, get two large mason jars and enough marbles or small rocks or whatever (all of this can be purchased at walmart). Then, when the child does something good, they can put a marble in the jar. When the child does something bad, they must take a marble out of their own jar. It will help them to see that they are earning a goal for more than just today and also encourage positive behavior. For example, let's say you ask your 5 year old to pick up his toys. If he starts to complain, remind him that doing this kind of chore will put a marble in his good behavior jar. But if he whines, throws a tantrum, or refuses to help, then he must go and take a marble out. I used to watch a little boy whose mother started the good behavior jar around the age of 2. It was devastating for him to have to remove a marble, but an amazing event when he was able to add one or two for doing things the way he was asked...or without being asked.
I think your husband has the right idea, but I think it's almost too thought out. They are little. Start small. Let's say you wake up in a rotten mood and just bear crawl through the day muttering and hating everyone. That would be negative behavior. But, for some reason, around mid afternoon your storm cloud lifts, you feel better, and you start helping, contributing a good attitude, putting away toys, etc. Should you be punished because you only had a 50 or 60% day verses an 80% day? I think not. The key is not to measure up to an inflexible number, because as all moms know, no 2 children are the same. The key is to measure their overall behavior long term and reinforce good habits, positive behavior, and a willingness to participate. That will earn them a reward as a child and later on, prove to be a great discipline for when they become older students and working professionals. I think the key for you is to agree with your husband with a few changes and let him know you are more concerned about long term verses one day of good behavior. Praise them up and down for every good deed and keep reminding them of their goal. For my sisters and I, when we were little, it was a trip to Disneyland. It took us an entire summer to earn it, but we did it. I think I was 10, the littlest was 5, and the oldest was 13. For your kids, since they are small, it can be a pizza party or that toy they always wanted,etc. It just has to be something that isn't par for the course that they are excited to work towards. When they get discouraged, remind them of how great that reward is going to be.
I hope that helps--good luck mama.
-E. M

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answers from Cleveland on

I actually say they both start at 50% and then if they do something they are supposed to they get their point but if they get into trouble they lose one or two depending on what they did



answers from Dallas on

My boys are 5 and 3 and both respond very well to having a chart. They both work the same, earning stickers on their chart when they complete a task on the chart or do a good job. They both love getting to put a sticker on their chart and when they fill up all the slots with stickers they get something special (like a small toy or extra tv time or trip out for ice cream). We don't punish them for not getting a sticker, not getting a sticker at their age seems to be a big enough disappointment for them. Both of mine respond better to the concept of earning a sticker, it is more of a positive reward. Just keep it simple in my opinion and don't expect it to be a cure all, just a motivator for a positive reward. Good luck!


answers from Saginaw on

I've done discipline charts for both of my daughters (5 and 3), not at this moment, but I have. Mainly because my 5 year old needed them. I based the charts off of Dr Larry Koenig's Smart Discipline, because quite some time ago I attended one of his seminars.

Anyway I am not going to go into detail on everything about his discipline program but can tell you the basic theory of his program. And if it sounds interesting, might be worth purchasing his book.

Basically his program is a chart for each individual child. This way you can work on things specifically related to the child. At five this child might have more responsibilities like doing homework, than a 3 year old would have. But you can also use some of the same rules like no hitting or clean up after yourselves. On his chart you take away privileges when the rules are not followed. And these privileges are child specific set also. I did this with both my children, as my youngest wasn't really ready to follow the same type of rules as my oldest, I really liked this program. And it allowed my oldest daughter to think the discipline was fair because even though they had some different rules to follow they both lost privileges that were specific to them.

Anyway, if this program sounds interesting you can check out his website, by doing a search for Smart Discipline.



answers from Atlanta on

You have to do different charts for each kid! We don't even use one (yet) with our 2 year old and only will if it seems to be something that truly helps him, but it has been very effective with our 4 year old. He seems to thrive on having some sort of "check list" to earn smiley faces for and whatnot. I actually purchased a Melissa and Doug magnetic "My Personal Responsibilities" chart for him about a month ago, and it's been awesome! It has a lot of things on it and you can change them or add your own. It would be great for a 5 year old, but I don't know if a 3 year old would be ready for it. At any rate -do different charts, but have the SAME discipline rules for both children. It's not fair if you don't-and they will immediately pick up on it -and it sounds like it has the potential to drive you crazy!



answers from Augusta on

Chart do not work.
We have a system where the kids get tokens for chores and good behaviors and loose them for bad behaviors.
We use poker chips. they each have a jar they put them in , it's tangable , they can see the progress they are making and works much better than just stickers on posterboard.
My kids earn points towards fun stuff like trip to the movies, the ice cream place, new toys etc.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I personally don't agree with the opposite directions. I believe both should go the same direction, so that while one may get a stronger punishment and more to look forward to while the other doesn't lose much, bc they don't REALLY get it yet, but both are striving for the same goal- to move up (or down) because of their good behavior. Kids love to make their parents happy! 3 year olds are a little more onry- while 5 year olds are a little more the people pleasing type, but in the end both love to make their parents happy- just make it fun! Add stickers and and funny faces, make a big deal out of it when they do the right thing- My daughter had behavior charts and we gave her rewards, but she seemed to enjoy how happy we were with her more than most rewards. Family time doing whatever she wanted was one of her favorite things to do:) Best of Luck!



answers from Sacramento on

Charts work really well, but the children need to have the same rules. maybe start them on a ladder chart. Put them both in the middle of the ladder,Up for good behaviour, down for bad. Make sure they always get one warning before they move down on the ladder. Write out rules and how many steps they will move on the ladder for breaking them. Positive behaviour should be rewarded and get lots of attention. good luck.

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