Creating a Daily Report Card for Your Child to Help Improve Behavior

Health Writer

Parents of children with ADHD often search for new ways to help control some of the behaviors associated with ADHD. Frances W. Arnold, along with the ADHD Cooperative Parent Training Group at the Center for Children and Families at the University at Buffalo created instructions for creating a daily report card (DRC) for managing behaviors at home, although this approach could be modified for use at school as well.

A DRC helps you and your child to work on a specific, or a few, behaviors at a time, setting goals for the desired behavior. Each day you monitor your child's actions and mark whether you noticed improvements. Rewards and incentives are given when a predetermined goal is met. The following are adapted from the steps outlined in the report to help you create a daily report card for your child.

  • Determine what behaviors you want to work on.

  • List all of your child's behaviors you would like to see change. For younger children, choose three behaviors to begin with, for older children, more behaviors can be worked on at the same time.

  • List the time of days these behaviors are most apparent. For example, you may find some behaviors, such as arguing with siblings, is higher in the evening and getting chores done.

  • Change behaviors into goals. For example, if your behavior to change is completing chores, change the wording to read, "Tony will complete goals by 5:00pm" or if goal is to not argue with siblings, change the wording to "Tony will argue with his brother three or fewer times." Make sure you create goals that are easy for your child to understand, attainable and measurable. In other words, you must create goals that you believe your child can meet and those that you can quickly decide if it has been met.

  • Create your DRC by creating five columns. In the first column, write out the goal. Label the remaining columns with the various times of the day you listed in step two. Your columns may be labeled, "Morning," "Afternoon," and "Evening."

  • For any goals that do not apply to a certain time of day, place an X in the column across from the goal.

  • Monitor your child's behaviors, marking the report card Yes or No in the proper time slot.

For example, if your goal is "Tony will complete goals by 5:00pm" your report card might look like:

Task Morning Afternoon Evening
Tony will complete goals by 5:00pm. X Y X

Set up an incentive program based on the number of Yes and No markings at the end of the day. You should determine the rewards prior to implementing the program and let your child know exactly what rewards he can expect at the end of the day. Some examples of rewards include:

  • Extra time on the computer
  • Staying up later
  • Having a special dessert
  • Renting a movie

Remember, behavioral charts are a work in progress. You will need to consistently review not only your child's progress but whether the goals need to be adjusted. If your child does not meet a goal after a week, you may want to adjust the goal lower and then move back once some progress is made. Your child should be able to reach goals around 75 percent of the time.

You will also need to adjust goals as your child's behavior improves. For example, you can adjust the goal, "Tony will argue with his brother five or fewer times" to "Tony will argue with his brother three or fewer times" as he masters the first goal. Some goals can be deleted as a behavior becomes ingrained in your child and replaced with a new goal.

Remember to give your child lots of praise and encouragement.

For more information on behavioral strategies to help improve ADHD behaviors:

Activities to Keep Children Entertained

Strategies for Parenting Children with ADHD

Creating a Discipline Process at Home

Games to Motivate your Children

Managing Chores in the ADHD Household

Behavior Modification for ADHD