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Star charts: The Observation Model in detail

Written by Robin Booth

This model is the simplest and most powerful of all the models as it requires the least skill, the least time and effort, and is the simplest to understand for both you and your child.

Cailin chart 1

We first used this model very effectively with Cailin when we were wishing for her to sleep through the night without calling either of us parents to come through to her bedroom.

This model is just a measure of what you observe, or what is done. In other words, there is no agreed goal to achieve. There is not direct and obvious purpose either. This model is about measuring the frequency of what is happening but this alone also has a powerful motivating effect.

You could use the model to measure what you DON'T want (ie times she called us, times she has a tantrum) or to record the action you DO want, (the times she does her homework without reminders, or the times she calmed down quickly after a tantrum etc). Of course you may also want to measure both (ie times she called (a dot) and times she slept through- (a sticker)) and each of these will be marked differently.

cailin chart 2 low

It might be more worthwhile thought to keep focussing on the positive and what you DO WANT. Each situation will be unique so weigh up the pros and cons each time.

As you can see from the chart on the left, she sometimes called up to seven times a night. We put this chart up above her bed and reflected on it daily with her (see the check-in questions below for how to do this)

You can either be upfront with your child about what you are doing, or just do it and wait for them to ask you what you are doing.


This is how you could word it: "You know, Cailin... we have been talking the last while about (insert what you are wanting, ie sleeping through the night) and I have thought of a way that we can see how it's going. Would you like me to show you or would you rather just wait and see how it looks?"

If you DO want them involved from the beginning, then say: ....and I have thought of a way that we can see how it's going but I need your ideas and support on how to make it work best for us. You often have great ideas I haven't thought of so I want to make sure I can hear them.


You can start this model on your own, and wait for your child to ask you what you are doing. This has the spin off effect that you are not trying to GET them to change anything and this will lead to them feeling less pressure. If they ask you what you are doing, you reply:

"Well, I have been wondering about (insert what you see happening- how it's going in sleeping through the night, or packing up after play time, or doing homework independently), but I find it difficult to remember how it's going. So I thought I would out it down on this chart so I can see it better. So every time that (insert what you NEED to happen- you sleep thought the night, pack away after playtime, do your homework without reminders) then I put this star here, and if it is too challenging (be sure you would the right wording here as it must not pass negative judgement but more show understanding and support), then I put this dot here. Now we can both see how it's going."

Now you will have interest and buy in from your child. Even though you are not saying what you are wanting or aiming for, it is implicitly embedded and conveyed in this graphic image.

And even though your child may not initially agree to take this on as a goal, they will still be interested to see you make the marks on the chart and will slowly take responsibility in seeing the changes. Whether they choose to or not, the chart reflects the behaviour of the child, and as this process occurs, they begin to feel more and more responsible for the changes and you will see an improvement.

If you wish to support them, and they agree to your support, then look at the check -in questions and process below for how to do this.

If you also wish to change this to the goal oriented model, the look below for how to powerfully word the invitation, and how to choose a powerful reward/ acknowledgement or celebration.

The remainder of this workbook, including all the specific phrases and wording can be found in the workshop session - 

Robin-Booth-improve your kids behaviour with new newly invented star charts



Robin-Booth-improve your kids behaviour with new newly invented star charts

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