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The details you need to know about how the Choice Chart works when you’re not at home are shared in this critical part of the system.

Click here to get PDFs of The Rules, Choice Charts for 1 – 4 children, as well as language you can use to explain the rules and introduce the Choice Chart to your children.

Click here for Word versions of Choice Charts for 1 – 4 children which can be used to customize the chart for your children.

Hi, my name is Cara Day, welcome to Daychild. This video is part 5 of the Choice Chart series on behavior management. If you haven’t watched the first 4 videos, you will want to do that before watching this video.

At this point, we’ve learned the details of the first four steps of the Choice Chart system, which are:

Step 1: Identify the Behavior type
Step 2: Give Verbal Redirection
Step 3: Isolate
Step 4: Mark Penalty

And, in this video we will start with:

Step 5: Reward with Pay Day Dinner

I’d like to talk a little bit about the stickers before moving on to how the choice chart works when you’re not at home.

Before bed, or the next morning, or whatever you have chosen as “sticker time,” the kids get to put a sticker in their box if they earned no penalties. If they have even one penalty mark, they do not a get a sticker.

We put them on in the morning before walking out the door for school. This means that a “day” is from the morning when we walk out the door for school, until the next morning until we would walk out the door to go to school again. During the summer or vacations, we still put them on in the morning, usually by 8 a.m.

You can decide what your “day” is based on your life, it just needs to be at about the same every day, so kids know what earning period they are in, so they know when their “fresh start” begins.

Now it’s time to talk about how the Choice Chart works when you are not at home. The great thing about the Choice Chart is that if you are consistently implementing it at home, it then continues to work no matter where you are.

With four kids, we were on the go a lot,their sporting events, school-related activities, visits with friends, and family, and vacations, both short and long. So, I had to create something that worked no matter where we were.

Even though you leave the physical chart at home, the Choice Chart still “comes with” you and you can still fully implement it. It just looks a little different.

The main difference between being out and being at home is how the penalty is served. Everything else remains pretty much the same.

When you’re out and about you still:

Identify the behavior
Give a verbal redirection
Say, “You have a penalty.”

At this point, you have a decision to make:

Will my child serve when we get home, or the next day?


Will my child serve right now?

Where you are and what the penalty was for will help you make this decision. You will have to make this decision on the spot, so I will give you some great examples of how to modify the penalty in a number of different circumstances so you can see how it looks and feels.

First, let’s cover what you do when you are going to go with the first option, “Serve penalty at home”, which is to have your child serve the penalty when they get home, or the next day, if you will be getting home very late.

The first option is useful when you know you will be home later and your child will have a chance to serve it then. After your verbal redirection and their non-compliance, simply say to your child, “You have a penalty. You will not get to do xyz with us when we get home, and you will be serving your penalty.”

It’s important for kids to know that their actions are not going to ruin it for everyone else, and that ultimately the child making the poor choices will be the one who misses out.

It’s always good to add in something extra fun for your other children when you have given someone a penalty. You want them to see that they miss out when they make poor choices, as is true in adult life.

Now let’s cover the second option, “Serve penalty now”, which is when you are going to have your child serve their penalty while you are still out, in an alternative way, since they cannot go to their usual isolation place.

You will want to use the second option when you want…

Your child to suffer the consequence now because you believe it will help them make better choices for the rest of the day.

You don’t see a good time later in the day or the next day for them to serve the penalty.


3. You simply feel waiting until the next day is too long and so the penalty will lose its effect.

Ok, so let’s go through some example of situations where you might want to have them serve an alternative penalty, right there on the spot.

You may want your child to serve an alternative penalty when you are someplace you have spent extra time getting to, or you are somewhere you have spent money to experience, or you have a limited amount of time to be where you are.

Special outing:

Spent time getting there
Spent money
Have limited time for the outing

It’s not realistic that you are going to leave a place like Disneyland after you’ve just spent a million dollars to get in–so don’t threaten that.

It’s also not always convenient to sit somewhere for 30 minutes when you want or need to be walking around.

One option is to have the child skip the next two rides, or the next two activities you’ll be doing. You can say, “Sorry, you lost the next two rides due to the poor choice you made.” or “You will sit out for this ride due to your poor choices. That is your penalty. I hope you will decide to make better choices for the rest of the day.”

If your child is the only child who is there, you may just want to sit somewhere for 30 minutes, or go to a gift shop or some other activity you don’t think your child will enjoy. Tell them it is their penalty. Of course, they don’t get any treats.

An alternative penalty at Disneyland would be to say, “When we eat, you do not get to order what you want.” When it’s time to eat, let everyone else order what they want from the menu, but the child with the penalty gets grilled cheese, or whatever you pick for them.

Make sure everyone else gets a milkshake, too.

However, if your child or family has issues with food, such as being overweight or there is a history of eating disorders in your family, you will want to steer clear from anything that has to do with withholding food from a child or giving it to them as a reward. If this is the case, go to a gift shop instead and let everyone pick a small treasure, and the child with the penalty misses out.

And, remember to mark the choice chart when you get home, even though the penalty has already been served.

If you are at the beach or a park, the child who received the penalty can sit on the sand for 30 minutes while everyone else plays. Again, if your child will not listen, you can say, “If you sit cooperatively, it’s 30 minutes. If not, it will be an hour. You pick.”

Notice that my language is short, concise, and choice-oriented. Don’t take away their power. Remind them they are in control of their fun.

Spock Parent
Word Diet

If your child is especially disgruntled, you need to be prepared to leave, no matter where you are. You can say, “If you do not listen, we will leave. When we get home, you will be in your room for the rest of the day while we _______________.” Think of something fun to do with the rest of your kids. Again, if you have an only child, think of something fun you can do by yourself and tell your child what it is.

Another time you may want your child to serve an alternative penalty is when you at someone else’s home.

At another person’s home:

When you are at Grandma and Grandpa’s or your friend’s house, the uncooperative child can miss out on something there which can count as their penalty. Or, if you want, your child can still serve an isolation when you get home. That is always up to you to add kind of a double consequence. Consider your child’s overall behavior of late, and go from there.

One time one of my children was misbehaving at my grandparents’ house. The kids used to love to pick the oranges from their huge orange tree, partly because I let them climb a ladder to get the ones on top. On this day, a day on which I had not planned to pick oranges, I had the uncooperative child sit in my grandmother’s big, beautiful, boring living room where they were not allowed to touch anything. I took the rest of the kids outside, impromptu, to pick oranges off the tree.

Being an excellent parent often involves creativity. The kids who got to do the tree were elated and the one who was left out definitely felt the pain of the simple, on-the-spot penalty.

Of course, another alternative, depending on the circumstances, is to leave. Say to your host, “I’m so sorry _______ is making poor choices. We have to leave. We will come again when _______ is ready to be a respectful guest. I am sorry.”

Leaving in this way would count as three strikes.

Similarly, alternative penalties work well when you are out and about running errands.

Running errands or similar outing:

If you are at the store, and you need to give a penalty to one child, you can buy everyone else a small treat. The child with the penalty does not get the treat and gets a penalty mark at home. Say to the child with the penalty. “I’m sorry you have to miss out this time. Next time, I know you will be full of good choices and will get to have fun with us.”

Now, let’s talk about penalties while you are driving, which is always a great concern.

While you are driving:

You might want to make misbehavior in the car a never behavior, since it is also a potential safety hazard for all of you. Either way, once your child has earned a penalty in the car, tell the child they have a penalty. They can serve it when they get home.

Alternatively, you can have them miss out on something during the outing, or make up something special for everyone else on purpose so the child can be left out of it, such as stopping for ice cream on the way home and the child with the penalty misses out.

If they earn two penalties on the way home, you could decide to give them an hour of isolation once you get home. Even when the chart is not present, act as if it is.

Use the same language no matter where you are—”choices, penalty, isolation.” The choice chart is effective everywhere, at any time.

One of my brothers, who is not a parent, once had my sons at the park when they were 5 and 7. My boys were starting to fight over the tire swing, so he quickly thought to say, “If you don’t figure it out without fighting, you’re both getting a penalty.”

They immediately started cooperating to work out it, and he heard one of them say, with great concern to the other, “We’re going to get penalties!” My brother came home excited to share his victory.

Share your system with grandparents and other family members so they can use it when needed. The 3rd penalty will happen rarely—if ever!

This system is very simple. However, just because something is simple, does not mean that it is easy. The self-discipline required to follow through with discipline will come back to you every day, in every way. The word “discipline” has the word “disciple” as its root. To disciple is to teach. You are teaching your children the meaning of your words, every day. You are your child’s first and greatest teacher—and they are counting on you!

Now we will cover both the philosophy behind, as well as the nitty-gritty how-to, for the Payday Dinner. This will be covered in the last video of the Choice Chart series.