A Checklist to Observe Behavior

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Behavior patterns vary between individuals, but all behavior is some form of communication. Understanding a child’s behavior can be difficult especially in the case of challenging behavior. Parents and teachers strive to understand what a child or teen is trying to convey through behavior. For behavior observation to be meaningful, observations made against a checklist have to be factual, without labels, descriptive and systematic. There are different checklists to observe behavior, for example, the child behavior checklist (CBC) used for assessing behavioral and emotional problems in children.

1 Child Behavior Checklist

Primary care physicians work with a variety of behavioral and emotional problems in children. Physicians use a child behavior checklist (CBL) to identify behavioral patterns based on observations of a child made by the parents and older siblings. The CBL is a standardized form that has 66 questions covering a wide range of social and emotional behaviors. For example, the questions target various behaviors including immature behavior, cruelty to animals, anti-social behavior, eating patterns and dependency issues.

2 Behavior Observation Checklist

Children ages 5 to 7 can demonstrate challenging behavior. Some children are high spirited, hyperactive and difficult to control. In some cases the behavior may be normal for a young child, in others; it may be a case of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Schools use a behavior observation checklist to identify specific behavior problems. The checklist covers questions that specifically target attention behavior. Questions include fidgeting, squirming, excessive talking while engaged in project activities, frequent interruptions, inability to follow directions, engages in physical actions like hitting and inability to focus.

3 Abuse Observation Checklist

People who experience abuse in relationships can use a checklist to evaluate the level of abuse in a present or past relationship. An abuse observation checklist will help to provide a pattern of abuse sustained in a relationship. This may serve as the basis for a complaint; for example, to the county’s domestic violence agency. Abuse can be emotional, sexual, financial or physical. A typical checklist for emotional abuse, for example, should contain questions related to name calling, verbal abuse, ridicule, laying blame for the abuse on the other person, threatening the individual, their family and friends, and repeated harassment based on past mistakes.

4 Developmental Checklist

Developmental checklists are used to monitor behavior in children from birth to five years of age. A checklist for an infant aged 1 to 3 months covers movement, visual, social and emotional behavior, and hearing and speech. Red flags that emerge from the behavior observation checklist may include failure to respond to loud noises, to smile, to move the eyes and to grasp objects. The checklist for children aged between four and five years will cover movement, motor skills, language abilities, cognitive skills and social skills. Red flags that emerge from the behavior observation checklist may include for example, poor motor skills like the inability to brush one’s teeth or to build tower blocks.

Frank Howard has been a professional writer for more than 20 years, working with Metro Publications and Penguin Group. He is now part of the Metro Publications creative team, where he creates fictional stories for kids. Howard has a master's degree in creative writing from City University London and bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Leeds.