Alternatives to Behavior Charts in Preschool: Manage Disruptive Behavior With These Techniques

Be Smart! Avoid the Behavior Chart!

Let me start by saying I think an individualized behavior chart can be useful in getting a particularly naughty child back on the right path, but using one for the whole class or for long-term results is futile.

Most teachers misuse the behavior chart from the very start. They pick times in the day to add or subtract the over used “gold star” or “smiley face” to the chart. Praise or correction for the preschooler needs to be immediate and frequent in order for the child to make concrete connections to the desired behavior. Picking times in the day to adjust the chart becomes more chart management, not behavior management.

Another frequent misuse of the preschool behavior chart is highlighting reasons why a child did not earn a sticker, stamp or next chip on their cookie. By doing this you are reinforcing negative behavior by focusing attention on the undesired behavior. If you get through with this article and still want to keep your chart, I urge you to try to catch your students doing the right thing instead of the opposite. Catching students making good choices puts the focus on positive behavior; therefore, reinforcing the behavior.

Try These Techniques Instead:

Keep on Truckin’ – Most undesired behavior is a cry for attention and is relatively mild. I suggest you keep moving with your lesson. Put a little extra inflection in your voice and make it as interesting as possible. Eight out of 10 times a student will self correct and make a better choice. If you stop everything to correct the behavior, the other students suffer and you give the student the attention he is begging for.

Positive Affirmations – Make sure you are taking the time to acknowledge positive behavior throughout the day. Use affirmative statements instead of praise for expected behavior. Save praises for extra good behavior or academic achievement. Affirmative examples: “Jonas is sitting nicely on the mat.” “Sarah, you are standing in line so nicely.”

Praise Examples: “I love the way you decided to share your puzzle with your friends, you have made your friends very happy!” “How wonderful, you wrote your name, your mom will be so proud!”

Notice the pattern in the praise statements: Feeling / Fact / Result

This pattern helps reinforce these behaviors and sets the ground work for understanding consequentially motivated behavior when the student matures.

Remove the Offender – Frequently you will be unable to move on and need to address a situation in a timely manner. Here is a simple rule for 99% of the cases. Remove the offender.It is either the child or an object (every once in a while it is the teacher). You can do this by actually physically moving the child or object. Or you can redirect the child or allow another student to take a turn with said object. In either case this should require very little explanation (when you put a puppy in the kennel for jumping on visitors, you don’t need to elaborate on how awful his behavior was for him to get the message.) Your students are smarter than puppies, I HOPE.

** Please remember this when your asking your student to recall the events that led up to his being placed in time out. Once again this type of conversation focuses on the negative and is condescending to the student.

Try out these techniques and let me know how they work!