Keeping a behaviour diary 

Writing a behaviour diary to track your child’s behaviour can help you spot patterns and access support. 

Children’s behaviour changes over time. However, you might be feeling worried if your child is behaving in a way that: 

  • Is harmful to themselves or others. 
  • Suggests that they are having trouble regulating their emotions. 

In this case, keeping a diary of positive and negative incidents can help you spot patterns. You can share this with your child’s school or health professionals to help everyone to build a picture of what support your family needs. 

What does a behaviour diary look like?

A behaviour diary keeps a note of certain behaviours and what was happening at the time. It can be useful to record things like: 

  • Behaviour: What did your child do?  
  • Day and time. 
  • Circumstance: What was happening before? 
  • People: Who else was there? 
  • Place: Where did it happen? 
  • Outcome: How did everyone else react? What happened next?  
  • Reflection: Why do you think it happened, and what could have been done differently?   


    “On Monday at 8:30am G was watching TV ay home with her sister, sitting calmly.  

    We were getting ready for school.  

    When I turned the TV off, G started screaming and hitting me.  

    It lasted about 45 minutes.  

    I shouted at G. Her sister got very upset too, and we were all late for school. 

    Next time I will give G a warning before turning TV off and try to stay calm.”

    Record the positives too

    It can be easy to focus on upsetting incidents. However, it can also be helpful to keep track of where strategies have worked. 


    “On Sunday night we laid out clothes for the morning and made a chart to show what we need to do before school. 

    In the morning, G needed a lot of reminders to get dressed, but did get dressed on time and we got to school on time. 

    Next time we will keep getting things ready the night before and remember that G still needs a lot of reminders and visual cues.

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    This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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