Behavior Management Systems

Behavior management can be a challenge for parents, especially if the current technique of regulating habits is not working. Many parents have moments where we are tempted to throw in the towel if the children are simply not willing to clean up after themselves, do their homework by themselves – or just be good kids. On those tricky days, we must remind ourselves 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 ways to train and lovingly guide the behavior of a child.

Behavior Management For Kids

The best way to choose a system that works is to apply some criteria for picking it. For starters, the technique should work without making you, the parent, have to nag the kids. It should also be a simple system that does not come before your character and paint a different picture about you to the young ones. Moreover, it should should be loving and not create any resentment from your kids – but seeks to balance between parental tenderness and moral firmness.

Leading experts, supported by a vast quantity of research, studies and parents, recommend using positive reinforcement to change behavior in children. 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 fits kids of all ages, and can take on a wide variety of forms, to suit each child and family. Using a variety of incentives, discipline is fostered through consistent recognition 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, and eventually help the child to internalise healthy habits for themselves. These good habits can stay with them and empower them throughout their life.

Charts Can Be Effective in Encouraging Kids to Develop Good Behavior

Behavior Management System for Kids

For younger kids, the rewards need not be monetary. Use of charts and stickers to manage the behavior of just one child or several kids at once, usually suffices. For example, one can create an association of good habits with certain colors and discouraged habits with different colors. For instance, you can design a chart that has a green color for ‘good behavior’ and yellow color for a ‘warning’; and red color for ‘bad zone’ and a pink color for ‘showing improvement’.

In the morning, all the children’s names or desired behaviors are in the green zone. As the time goes by, the names are moved around the chart as required. Care should be taken not to overuse the red and the yellow regions, as this would create resentment and discouragement. The system should be used in targeting 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 finally, the one that they are struggling with.

Using a Token Economy for Kids Behavior Management

For older children, the token economy works in a different manner. For every impressive choice or improvement in a target area, there is a token which acts as a reward. The child accumulates the tokens for as long as they wish, and can then redeem them for a chosen reward, activity or pocket money. In the end, the child will be well behaved, with the desired habits, and also have a means of getting their projects funded by the parent, without too much hassle … and both sides win.

You can read more about token economy as a behavior management system for kids here.

Positive Reinforcement Can Work Wonders With All Kids

A Token Economy doesn’t necessarily work for every child or family, so it’s important to explore other behavior management systems. Another option that works well for helping develop good habits in children 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 rewards. Always be looking for opportunities to acknowledge your child when they are being good, displaying appropriate behavior, using self control, making wise choices, being disciplined in getting on with homework or chores, and take the opportunities to praise them specifically for behaviors like these 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 kids’ behavior by our own example. 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 opportunity to see the behaviors, attitudes and actions firsthand. Children are natural mimics, and 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 implement!


If you are looking for a behaviour management system to help modify 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, as there are plenty of other ideas to help you create positive change in both your kid’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

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