An Effective Strategy for Behavioral Change​

It is the beginning of a new school year and that means it's an excellent time to set goals. Some students want to get all their homework in on time, others want to be better at asking questions when they need help, and others want to write all their assignments in their planner.


Whatever the goal, there is one step that can greatly enhance the chances of the goal being met: allowing the student to self-monitor.


This does not mean that they will be the only ones monitoring their progress; having a parent, tutor, or teacher monitor progress is a piece of this puzzle. But allowing the student the chance to monitor their behavior can be a powerful way to gain buy-in and can help students see their behavior change first hand.


This article from Intervention Central offers a detailed map for creating a self-monitoring system. I'm going to distill it here; you may want to read and utilize the full article as well. Although the article is written for classroom teachers, the ideas can be implemented at home as well.


Key Ingredients for Self-Monitoring

1. Choose a definable, tangible goal. Use the SMART goals guidelines.

2. Create a way to track the behavior (see the Intervention Central article for ideas).

3. Set a schedule for when the student will check the behavior.

4. Decide if student needs or wants a cue to check the behavior (see the Intervention Central article for ideas).

5. After a few weeks (or days) check on their progress to determine if they are recording/assessing their behavior accurately. Make necessary adjustments.

6. Choose a reward for shifting the behavior and set guidelines for how you'll both know if the behavior shifted. (Optional)


Discuss a time period for when you will be implementing these self-checks. It could be a month, a quarter, a semester…whatever feels like it won't be too rushed, but instead will give adequate time for the behavior to change. Eventually, you will be able to fade the self-monitoring because the behavior will have shifted.


Remember, setbacks happen. If your student starts to slide, be encouraging. Sometimes we fall back on old habits after a break or an illness. This is normal, and your student can always start again.​