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How to Observe and Record a Child's Behavior

By Wallis Bishop ; Updated June 13, 2017

There are many reasons why a parent would want a record of their child's behavior. Usually, the best way to diagnose a developmental or behavioral problem is by consistent observation over several weeks or even months. By observing your child over a lengthy period of time, it becomes easier to identify patterns of behavior, and therefore discern potential triggers for problem behaviors. If there is a concern about a developmental delay, close observation can aid parents and teachers make individualized plans to help the child.

Choose where you will record your observations. A notebook or binder are best, as they are portable and can be brought where ever the observation is taking place.

Set up a schedule of observation times. Decide how often and at what times you want to observe your child. It is best to observe different times during the day, as different activities result in different behaviors.

Record the time and date at the beginning of every entry.

Objectively observe and record your child's behavior. Try not to guess what your child is feeling or his motivation for any behavior. Record detailed and descriptive actions and statements only, suggests Modesto Junior College.

Spend several weeks observing and recording, and then look through your observations by yourself or with the help of a professional to note any patterns.

Tip

If your child asks what you are doing, it is okay to give a vague answer. If she knows you are writing about her, it could cause her to behave unnaturally. Depending on your goals for observing your child, you can note many different types of behavior. Some of these include frequency and types of aggression, number of social interactions or preferences for a particular type of play.

Warnings

If you are unsure whether your child has a developmental or behavioral problem, consult your pediatrician or a developmental specialist.

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