One of the ways to help children learn how to follow the rules is to give them a chart. An example of such a chart would include a column with what a child should do and another column for stickers or checks to indicate if they have accomplished their goal. This strategy comes in handy for teachers at school, such as myself, in order to express expectations visually for students. Charts can also be used at home by parents to reinforce positive behavior for their child in order to help them improve in particular areas, be it academic, social or behavioral.
Connection to Adults and Evaluating our Christian Way of Life
Sometimes it is not just our children who need help keeping track of how they are doing. We all are working on certain areas of our life—diet, exercise, prayer, Bible study. We should be keeping track of our accomplishments and also what areas we can develop ourselves in order to continue in our goal of building godly character and growing in the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×).
What Do We Measure Against?
Charts, such as the ones used in elementary classrooms, should be organized to evaluate behavior during time blocks, such as class periods in school, or to assess specific behaviors during the day. At home, younger children may have two to three tasks per evening to focus on such as behavior at dinnertime, sharing toys while playing with siblings and helping clean up. If they receive all three stickers for that evening, they can either receive a reward immediately, such as an extra book read to them at bedtime, or if it is more behaviorally appropriate, have them work towards a reward for the end of the week. Whatever is decided, make expectations attainable. Over time, a child will exhibit more desired behaviors and understand how to fulfill expectations.
Christians are evaluated during their time on this earth and in their behavior each day. God has given us a chart to measure ourselves against—the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17 Exodus 20:1-17 1 And God spoke all these words, saying,
2 I am the LORD your God, which have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 You shall have no other gods before me.
4 You shall not make to you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5 You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And showing mercy to thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shall you labor, and do all your work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates:
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: why the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12 Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long on the land which the LORD your God gives you.
13 You shall not kill.
14 You shall not commit adultery.
15 You shall not steal.
16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is your neighbor’s.
American King James Version×; Deuteronomy 5:6-21 Deuteronomy 5:6-21 6 I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 7 You shall have none other gods before me. 8 You shall not make you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: 9 You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, 10 And showing mercy to thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments. 11 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain. 12 Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work: 14 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your ass, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates; that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you. 15 And remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD your God brought you out there through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day. 16 Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you; that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you, in the land which the LORD your God gives you. 17 You shall not kill. 18 Neither shall you commit adultery. 19 Neither shall you steal. 20 Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor. 21 Neither shall you desire your neighbor’s wife, neither shall you covet your neighbor’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is your neighbor’s.
American King James Version×). We are to keep the Ten Commandments in their physical and spiritual intent. Remember, if a man even looked on a woman with wrong intent, it was considered a sin (Matthew 5:28 Matthew 5:28But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
American King James Version×). As we keep our mind from thinking evil things as well as stopping our hand from doing them, we are supposed to be thinking on whatever is pure and noble while using our bodies as vessels for good works (Philippians 4:8 Philippians 4:8Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
American King James Version×, 2 Timothy 2:21 2 Timothy 2:21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel to honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared to every good work.
American King James Version×).
If we want to chart our progress on our road to eternal life, we should be as the saints in Revelation 14:12 Revelation 14:12Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
American King James Version×. It reads, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” The saints are those who check off their chart daily. Also, if we want to make sure we are on the path to eternal life, Jesus said, “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17 Matthew 19:17And he said to him, Why call you me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments.
American King James Version×).
Be Supportive, for We Have Support
As a child works towards reaching a goal, their actions should form desirable habits or properly self-regulated behavior. Along the way, it helps to reassure children with praise whenever they exhibit positive behavior. On the other hand, if they are getting discouraged, offer support and guidance to help them shift their focus towards achieving the desired outcome.
Likewise, God observes and supports us. He has given us the Holy Spirit, which gives us “a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 2 Timothy 1:7For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
American King James Version×, NIV). He wants us to learn to regulate our behaviors on our own. Each day we learn how God wants us to love Him and how to better show love for our fellow man. The Bible gives us words of encouragement, lists blessings for godly behavior and tells us to seek God’s praise (John 5:44 John 5:44How can you believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that comes from God only?
American King James Version×). God wants us to make a habit of keeping His Commandments and will encourage us as we make godly habits along the way.
Visuals such as charts improve understanding and communication of expectations and overall learning. Charts for younger children can have pictures to show them what to accomplish during a given time, such as a picture of a child carrying a plate to the dishwasher. For older children, topics such as “dinner time” and “clean-up time” can be written as such. Charts should be posted on the fridge or in a common area where everyone, including the child, can see progress. Plus, it is rewarding for children to actually see the adult put the sticker on their chart or to do it themselves.
Spiritually, we go through times of growth from a child to an adult in which we move from “milk to meat” so to speak. God tells us to post the Commandments around our house and write them on the tablet of our heart. Visualize what it would look like when we walk in all of His ways. Visualize what it will be like in the Kingdom of God when the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord and the law of the Kingdom will be God’s Commandments (Ezekiel 44:24 Ezekiel 44:24And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all my assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths.
American King James Version×, Zechariah 14:16 Zechariah 14:16And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
American King James Version×). When we picture it, it helps motivate us and focus better on achieving our goals.
Chart Your Progress Now
God wants us to become the best that we can be by examining ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:28 1 Corinthians 11:28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
American King James Version×). He doesn’t want us comparing our progress with others, except that of Christ. Christ is always who we should be comparing ourselves against and striving to resemble, He “who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:21-22 1 Peter 2:21-22 21 For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
American King James Version×).
Have you set any spiritual goals lately? Are you working on not taking God’s name in vain? Becoming more courageous? Choosing your entertainment with more care? Growing in grace and knowledge? Set attainable goals that will encourage you on your pathway to the Kingdom. For example, when I wanted to watch my words more carefully, I started reading all the verses in the Bible I could find on “the tongue.” I also found books such as Taming Your Tongue in 30 Days by Deborah Smith and prayed to God about guiding my words each day in conversation. I charted my progress over 30 days and reflected in my journal about steps forward and struggles I encountered. You can chart your progress too! Set a goal, make a plan, and get started!
But What Do I Get?
Rewards motivate. A child’s reward should be something that motivates them and is discussed before beginning the chart system. Rewards that are privileges tend to be better than tangible items or things of monetary value. You’ll be surprised at what they ask for as an incentive.
Remind your child of their goal when things get tough. If the prize isn’t motivating them, perhaps they need to be evaluated in smaller chunks of time or behaviors and have more immediate positive feedback. They may need to have the task broken down into more specific behaviors. For example, when trying to build social skills, focus in on how to have a conversation and then break down behaviors. You may have them “ask someone a question” and “listen to their answer” and then evaluate from there.
As a Christian working towards building godly character and the reward of eternal life, choose goals that resonate with you and a more immediate reward to receive after your dedicated efforts. Possible rewards could be going to a park for your Bible study instead of just at home, going for a nice meal with a friend to share your experience of working towards your goal, getting yourself a pocket Bible with your name engraved on it, or buying a special Bible study pen to write in your Bible.
If you or your child is asking, “What’s in it for me?” the Bible tells of a reward for doing and teaching God’s Commandments: “Whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19 Matthew 5:19Whoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
American King James Version×). Learn to keep these Commandments yourself and teach them to others and you will have your reward.
God’s Chart for Us
God set up a goal for us: to grow in grace and knowledge, or in other words, build godly character (2 Peter 3:18 2 Peter 3:18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×). He has written what He requires of us: do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Him while learning to keep His Commandments in righteousness and truth (Micah 6:8 Micah 6:8He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
American King James Version×). He has a reward for us: to be kings and priests and rule on earth (Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
American King James Version×). If these are some of the objectives He has set for us, then they must be attainable—for God is the ultimate teacher wanting all to come into the knowledge of the truth and be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4 1 Timothy 2:3-4 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
American King James Version×).
If you need motivation on your way there, pray for what you need and what you want, for God is able to give exceedingly abundantly (Ephesians 3:20 Ephesians 3:20Now to him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
American King James Version×, James 1:5 James 1:5If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraides not; and it shall be given him.
American King James Version×)! God is also the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6 Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
American King James Version×).
We are God’s workmanship and a work in progress (Ephesians 2:10 Ephesians 2:10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
American King James Version×). Be it getting on a daily Bible study plan or working towards more effective fervent prayer, you can make a positive change in your daily life and put the focus on God. Become as little children, chart your progress as you learn the proper way to live a godly life. Follow the course God has set out for you. Keep the Commandments, and God will guide you into the reward of eternal life!