Thinking back to the days when my kids were younger, there’d be times when I felt out of control.  When their behaviour seemed beyond me.  When I was at my wits end.

I remember downloading to my husband at the end of the day.  He once replied ‘You’re a teacher.  What would you do if it was a student in your class?’

This made me think.  How could I feel in control of 25 children in a classroom, but so out of control of a 2 and 4 year old?

What WOULD I do?  I’d make a chart.

How do charts help behaviour?  And which ones are the best?

Here are the Key to Kids top tips in regard to charts:

Homemade is best.  Even if the news agency sells a beautiful, laminated, bright, Dora the Explorer, Thomas the Tank Engine chart – the manufacturers don’t know you or your child.  What is it that you expect your child to do?  At the beginning of each year the K2K clan sit down around the table to make a list.  I ask them ‘so, what do we need to do each morning?  Each afternoon?  Evening?’  Every family has different ideas and expectations – whatever works for YOU.

Make it age appropriate.  One of the talks I do is about preparing kids for school.  If your children are young don’t overload them with expectations.  Starting Prep might include 4 jobs such as 1. Get dressed 2. Eat breakfast 3. Clean your teeth 4. Pack your lunchbox.  My children are going into Year 2 and 3, so they are expected to unpack the dishwasher and make their beds (but remember – everyone has different expectations!)

Keep it visual.  Once you’ve put in the hard yards of planning and making your chart, keep it somewhere your kids can easily refer to it.  Instead of nagging and repeating the jobs they need to do in the morning, ask ‘How’s the chart going?’ or ‘I can see you’ve got dressed!  Now only 3 things to go!’.  Give them a chance to complete tasks by themselves BEFORE jumping in with a nag.  And if a ‘tick’ or a sticker motivates them, why not include that too.

It’s an expectation.  While there will always be a division between paying kids to do jobs and just expecting them to do it, keep your chart as an EXPECTATION.  In other words, what do they just NEED to do, and what is above and beyond?  Like I said, my kids now have unpacking the dishwasher and making their beds as their job.  This is what I expect as being a part of our family.  However, I give them a small amount of pocket money (a whopping $2) to teach them some financial responsibility – unrelated to jobs.  Again – my family, my rules… your family, your rules.

Shake it up occasionally.  In my classroom, one chart would never motivate a child for a whole year.  Therefore, it’s unrealistic to think that a chart will be appropriate in your home for a whole year.  If they start getting slack at cleaning teeth, make this a focus.  Needing lots of reminders to feed the dog?  It might require its own chart too.

This might seem like a lot of effort initially, but negotiating expectations initially and occasionally reflecting and praising them as you go will be totally worth it in the long run.

Save your breath… Make a chart!