Behavior Chart Ideas for Toddlers

Instructor: Abigail Cook
Behavior charts are an engaging and effective strategy for helping children learn appropriate behavior. Your toddlers will get excited about their behavior charts and the chance to earn rewards.

How it Works

The purpose of a behavior chart is to change behavior by rewarding a child when they do something right. When a child demonstrates the behavior you are looking for, such as raising their hand or sitting in their seat, they are rewarded. When they do not demonstrate the behavior you're looking for, you do not reward them. Withholding the reward should be motivation enough to get your students to do the correct behavior in the future.

Research shows that most children will respond to rewards more effectively than punishment. Teachers should keep in mind that while some toddlers may need punishment, like time outs, to learn appropriate behavior, punishment is not part of the behavior chart system.

Class-wide Vs. Individualized

It is important to note that a behavior chart system can be tailored to fit a variety of situations. Some teachers may use one chart for the whole class, rewarding behaviors throughout the day when she sees the majority of her students behaving appropriately. For example, as students come in from recess the teacher may notice that they've all switched from outside to inside voices. She might say, 'I love how each of you have quiet mouths while you are finding your seats!' She would then place a sticker on the class behavior chart next to 'Quiet mouth'.

Other situations may require students to have their own individual chart. Students with difficult behaviors, such as yelling, talking out, or hitting, may benefit from a personalized reward system. In this case, the teacher may set up a chart for an individual student. The rewards would be selected based on what motivates this particular student, and the target behaviors would be selected to help eliminate their challenging behaviors.


Oftentimes, teachers use stickers as a visual to help students see how close they are to earning their reward. A behavior chart may have one column that states the target behaviors, and columns next to each behavior to place stickers as students earn them.

Let's look at the example of Jake and Mr. Hughes. Mr. Hughes has set up a behavior chart system for Jake to help him learn to follow teacher directions the first time. His chart has the behavior written down, and empty boxes where Jake can earn stickers towards his ultimate reward, ten minutes of computer time at the end of the day. Jake must earn five stickers in order to get his reward. Each time Mr. Hughes sees Jake follow directions without additional prompting, he places a sticker on Jake's chart. If Jake has five stickers at the end of the day, he gets his computer time. If he has less than five stickers he does not earn his reward, and he starts over the next day.

Selecting Target Behaviors

Before implementing a behavior chart in the classroom, teachers should consider which specific behaviors (target behaviors) they want their students to exhibit. For toddlers, these behaviors should be things they are capable of doing, stated in simple words, and kept to a short list in order to be effective. The list below includes some ideas of target behaviors for toddlers.

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