Behavior Management Systems

Behavior management can be a challenge for parents, especially if the current method for improving habits is not working. Many parents have moments where they are tempted to throw in the towel if their children are simply not willing to clean up after themselves, do their homework by themselves , or just generally be good kids. On those hard days, parents have to remind themselves that it is worth the effort and say, ‘Yes, this is my child whom I love and I want the best for him/her.’ All is not lost, though! In fact, there are a number of effective methods that can lovingly guide the behavior of a child.

Behavior Management For Kids

The best way to decide on a system that works is to use some criteria for choosing one. For starters, the technique should work without making parents have to nag the kids. It should also be a simple system that does not paint a picture of you that you don’t want your children to see.

It should also be loving and  should not create any sense of resentment in your kids. Instead, it should seek to balance parental tenderness and moral firmness. Leading experts, who are supported by a vast quantity of research, studies and parents, recommend using positive reinforcement to change children’s behavior.

One of the most supported and successful methods for behavior management is the use of a reward based incentive system, sometimes called a “token economy”. The reason for its effectiveness is that it is a good fit for kids of all ages,. It can take on a wide variety of forms to tailored to every child and family. Using a number of incentives, discipline is fostered through consistent reward of desired actions and attitudes. This encourages the awareness and formation of good habits and life skills in your kids. With consistency, the rewards can move from physical incentives or tokens to a word of encouragement or a hug. This method will eventually help a child to internalize healthy habits. These good habits can stay with them and empower them over the course their life.

Charts Can Be Effective in Encouraging Good Behavior

Behavior Management System for Kids

For younger kids, the rewards do not need to be monetary. You can use charts and stickers to manage the behavior of just one child or several kids at once. For example, you can associate of good habits with certain colors and discouraged habits with other colors. For instance, you can design a chart that has uses a green zone for ‘good behavior’, a yellow zone for a ‘warning’, a red zone for ‘bad behavior’, and a pink zone for ‘showing improvement’. In the morning, all the children’s names are in the green zone. As the time goes by, the names are moved around the chart as required. Take care not to overuse the red and the yellow zones, this can create a sense of resentment and discouragement. The system should be used to target a few habits at a time, usually two to four behaviors. It is helpful to pick the behavior that your child is already good at, another that the child is working on, and then the one that they are struggling with.

Using a Token Economy for Behavior Management

For older children, the token economy works in a different way. For every impressive choice or improvement in a target area, a token is given as a reward. Your child accumulates the tokens for as long as they want, and can later redeem them for a reward, activity, or pocket money. The end result is that the child will be well behaved and have the desired habits, while also having a means of getting what they want from their parents without too much hassle … meaning that both sides win! You can read more about token economy as a behavior management system for your kids here.

Positive Reinforcement Can Work Wonders With All Kids

A Token Economy doesn’t always work for every child or family, however,  so it’s important to explore other behavior management systems. Another option that works well for helping children to develop good habits is through Positive Reinforcement. For many children, a well-timed and thoughtful word of encouragement or praise and a hug can be far better than any material reward. Always keep looking for opportunities to acknowledge your child when they are being good, displaying appropriate behavior, using self control, making wise choices, being disciplined with homework or chores, and take the opportunities to praise them for the behaviors that you want to encourage. Click here to learn more ideas for using positive reinforcement with your kids.

Model the Behaviors You Expect From Your Child

As parents, we have a profound effect on our children’s behavior by being an example for them. Often we don’t want to hear what WE must do, but if we are modeling the behaviors we are encouraging in our children, they have a far greater better chance to see those behaviors, attitudes, and actions firsthand. Children are natural mimics and they will tend to do what we do, not what we say. So this one may be a tough one for us as parents, but it also may be the best behavior management system we can implement!


If you are looking for a behavior management system to help improve your children’s behavior, there are many options you can explore. This article has discussed a few, but feel free to explore Kids Making Change. We offer plenty of other ideas to help you create positive change in both your children’s behavior and in your family as a whole.   For more information on Positive Reinforcement and Behavior Management, check out our Related Articles: Token Economy Positive Reinforcement ADD and ADHD Behavior Management