I have always had high expectations for my children’s behavior.
Of course, I understand that they are CHILDREN, and will make mistakes, test boundaries, break rules, and so on and so forth.
We work on first-time obedience from a young age and listening to mommy and daddy is a huge priority in our house.
And then I entered the territory of my third pregnancy (fourth baby because #twins) and pretty much I lost the ability to enforce good behavior.
Half the time I don’t ask my children to clean up their toys, simply because I. Am. Exhausted.
Then, on the rare occasion that I DO ask them, they look at like as if I’ve sprung an extra head and completely ignore me.
Or, I’ll call their names, and they act as if my voice doesn’t even exist.
Wheewwwww, it really makes me mad!
But here’s the thing that I finally realized (thanks to some self-evaluation and some chats with friends).
It’s OK to let the kids get away with things (for a short season) for your own mental or physical health.
It’s OK if I hear my girls get out of bed during naptime and start playing and I’m lying on the couch with Braxton Hicks.
Having a baby is a huge adjustment, and we WILL adjust and they WILL learn how to listen again.
But where does that leave us in the meantime?
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A Rainbow Chart for Behavior
Enter a rainbow chart for behavior.
Theo’s teacher uses one in his Kindergarten class, and we decided to give it a try at home.
We have it hung up on our refrigerator with magnets for their initials, but you can also use colored clips or clothes pins with their names written on them.
You can download this behavior chart below, for free!
Each day, everyone starts out on the color green.
As the day goes on, they can move their magnet UP for good behavior. Above the color green is blue, then pink, and then the highest color is purple.
If they make poor choices, they will move DOWN to yellow, then orange, and then the lowest color is red.
Using a Rainbow Chart for Positive Reinforcement
As an incentive, we’ve told the kids that if they earn pink or purple seven times, we will go out for doughnuts.
Typically, before I ask my kids to do something, I’ll remind them that if they obey, they can move their magnet up and become closer to getting doughnuts.
Using a Rainbow Chart for Consequences
Having them move their magnet down is the perfect consequence for us right now. I physically CANNOT carry a child throwing a fit up our winding staircase for a timeout.
I do not have the patience to deal with the screaming fit that will ensue if I take a toy away.
I can’t get down on the ground and enforce them to actually put their toys away.
But simply saying “You can choose to listen to mommy or I’ll have to move your magnet down” is something I can do.
While it really isn’t a true consequence, it is at least reinforcing the idea that their behavior is not acceptable.
A Rainbow Chart Works for YOU
The absolute best part of a rainbow chart at this time in my life is that it’s not black and white.
I can bend the rules to make things work for me. If I need my kids to be in good moods, I can find little things to move them up for.
Theo tends to do really well when he’s on an upward trend, but the second his magnet gets moved down? He spirals.
While I still will move him down, I give him lots and lots of chances. Not just Theo, but we give all of the kids lots of chances and reminders.
This isn’t a pattern we will continue long-term, but it is something that we need right now.
Our kids need lots of grace in this phase of our lives… as do I!
We don’t have a consequence for moving down to red but it is definitely something you can implement.
We do say that they have to be on blue or above in order to earn dessert after dinner each night.
Get Your free Rainbow Chart Template Today!
You can download your free, customizable behavior chart above. I have two versions: one that is just the colors and one that has white spaces for you to customize and add words or phrases if you wish.
Should You Implement a Rainbow Chart for Behavior?
If you’re struggling with your children making bad choices or being disobedient, then I absolutely think you should try it!
Here’s the thing though: children need to learn that there are consequences for their actions. This is a lesson that is best learned during childhood, rather than when they’re teenagers, or even worse, adults.
The consequences are much more severe the older they get! I’d rather my children learn this lesson and have the consequence be losing a privilege or toy, than getting into a car accident from driving recklessly.
Having their magnet moved down is kind of a faux consequence. It doesn’t really affect them.
For us, in this season? That’s perfectly fine. If you’re in a season of utter chaos, or if you simply feel like your children need some positive reinforcement, then by all means, do it the way I’m doing it.
If we continue this chart once we have the baby, we will most likely have them lose a privilege if they have to move their magnet down to orange or below.
How to Start a Rainbow Chart
Before you start, be very realistic about your expectations and make sure that you can enforce them.
The worst thing you can do is tell your children that if they move below green that they will lose screen time… only to give in because you’re exhausted, and let them watch television anyways.
Then, tell your kids that you’re starting a new chart and they have the opportunity to move up or down based on their behavior.
Empower them. Tell them you know they’re going to do a great job, and that if they make a poor choice that they can still move their magnet up with a good choice.
There are white spaces inside of the colors so you can choose to write in it if you want. We personally do not do that, as the colors can honestly mean different things based on the day.
But here is an example of what you could do:
- Purple: Outstanding
- Pink: Great
- Blue: Good
- Green: Ready
- Yellow: Think
- Orange: Try Again
- Red: Fix/Consequence
I have seen some examples that have BAD written on red, and I personally think that is not a good idea. Even ‘poor choice’ is better than saying bad.
I hope this helps you get through chaotic seasons of motherhood, or if you just want to try out positive behavior support!