Parents, are there behaviors in which you and your child or teenager engages in that repeatedly lead to conflict? Have you tried to manage these behaviors through punishment, only to find that they continue to occur time and again? If you answered “yes” to the above questions, a behavioral plan may be a helpful tool. Behavioral plans provide rewards for positive behaviors when they occur and consequences when they do not take place.
Please note that if you and your child or teenager have a high-conflict relationship at present, you may want to discuss and develop your behavioral plan with the support of your therapist.
The steps to implementing a behavioral plan are simple. However, the most important and challenging piece is consistent follow through. Once you have defined the terms of the behavioral plan, it is essential that you review with your child or teen, their progress on a daily basis, especially at the beginning of implementing it.
Step 1: Concretely define, with your child or teen, the behaviors you would like to see increase. For example, “John will follow directions from his parents” would be too vague, as it cannot be measured and leaves room for interpretation, debate, and potential conflict. A better definition would be “John will follow directions from his parents the first time they are given, and within 2 minutes.” This is a behavior that can be measured with relative objectivity (think, timer!)
- Students searching for Become a Behavioral Counselor: Step-by-Step Career Guide found the following information and resources relevant and helpful.
- What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy? Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on the psychosocial aspects of therapy, emphasizing the importance of a collaborative relationship, support for the client, and the development of skills for dealing with highly emotional situations (Psych Central, 2016).
- Contact a behavioral health center about DBT. Undergoing dialectical behavior therapy is done under the supervision and guidance of a trained mental health professional. To determine if you may benefit from this therapy, get in touch with a local behavioral health center or counselor.
DBT is derived from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). However, some modification had to be included for it to be effective. Apart from resolving addiction disorders, DBT also works for people with depression, bipolar, PTSD, anxiety, and eating disorders. As the name suggests, dialectic means harmonizing two different aspects.
Once you have defined 1-4 behaviors (we want to make this manageable for parents, children, and teenagers, alike), you are ready to move on to the next step, determining rewards and consequences.
Step 2: Have a conversation with your child or teenager about what incentives would be motivating for them. Maybe they want to work for a special Lego set, a dinner at their favorite restaurant, or time with their friends. Find what is authentically rewarding to them. Next, determine what consequences would be for them. What are the things that they really dislike? Scrubbing the bathtub? Spending a weekend without their friends?
Step 3: Once you have defined the behaviors to increase, rewards, and consequences, now is the time to ascribe value to each behavior. For example, you may decide that “John will follow directions from his parents the first time they are given, and within 2 minutes” is worth 1 point. In order to earn his first reward of dinner at his favorite restaurant, he will need to earn 10 points. However, if he does not follow directions from his parents the first time they are given, and within 2 minutes on two occasions (equal to 2 points), he will have to scrub the bathtub.
Step 4: Now is the hard work! Make sure to track your child or teenager’s progress and points on a daily or nightly basis. This consistency is key to the behavioral plan’s effectiveness.
Finally, if there are behaviors that you have identified as wanting to change as a parent, this behavioral plan template (below) can also be used to monitor your own behavior!
Specific Behavior of Points
(Behaviors need to be described in specific terms).
|Rewards Menu||Points||Consequences Menu||Points|
Weekly Behavior Chart
|Reward Received (indicate menu #)|
|Consequence Received (indicate menu #)|
Free Printable Behavior Charts with Steps
What Is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
Reward charts with steps! Our behavior charts with steps are a fun way for toddlers and children to step into success! Each time your children reach behavior goals, they can see their progress clearly by marking off their reward charts. When they reach the end, they can earn rewards or merely enjoy the reward of completing the steps! Our step behavior charts also work great as star charts. Have your child place a sticker star on each step! Check out our Step-by-Step Charts with Fun Characters too! These are also great behavior charts for toddlers. We are happy to make up a chart for you for free if you don't see what you need. Just drop us a line!