The If/Then Chart

Many moons ago, I was introduced to the concept of an If/Then Chart. Many of you have probably seen or heard about the one from Doorposts or the one from Titus 2 Ministries. More obscure, but popular just the same in homeschooling circles, is the Wise Words For Moms by Ginger Plowman.

In case you aren’t familiar with If/Then Charts, let me give you a brief explanation…

They are often used for discipline and training of children. IF the child does such-and-such, THEN the child is disciplined in this manner. Ginger Plowman’s chart not only gives the what-not-to-do’s, but also the what-to-do’s. The ones I’ve listed are Scripture based and give parents a quick-glance tool for instructing children.

Often you are given the ability to write in your own method of discipline, but for someone like me, that is just too much slack in the reins.

Enter my favorite If/Then Chart (and it’s free to boot!)

This is not my own original work, but rather a chart I came across years ago.  As far as I can tell, it is no longer available online and the woman who originally created it is no longer blogging at the only address I ever had for her. (You’ll see in the comments section that I did indeed connect with the original author who was happy to see this chart was still available somewhere!)

CLICK HERE FOR A PDF VERSION OF THIS CHART

(I have corrected a Scripture reference and made this into a pdf file hosted here on my blog)

Here’s how the chart works:  Basically, you have a list of behaviors (the “IF” side), a center section with Scripture that speaks to that behavior, and a consequence of said behavior on the far right (the “THEN” side). The punishment fits the crime and I don’t have to think too much about how to discipline certain behaviors. Now, that’s the kind of efficiency I need!
(A quick note on the “Penalties” section at the bottom of the second page: the amount of time I “isolate” depends on the age of the child. A 3 year old is not going to be isolated as long as an older child for obvious reasons.)

The thing that I like best about If/Then Charts is that you are not randomly scrambling around trying to find an appropriate punishment for undesirable behaviors. You have a handy little chart all made up for you explaining the why and the how for both you and the child to plainly see. Consistency, which more often than not is the name of the game, is easy to be had with the help of an If/Then Chart.

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105 thoughts on “The If/Then Chart

  1. I’m really interested in this! I hadn’t heard about it before.

    It’s nice to meet you! I’m visiting from Lynnette’s blog.

  2. That’s pretty cool. Wish I had that when my kids were young. I love your blog. I’m visiting from “Lynette’s” blog and just Getting to Know YOu! God Bless!

  3. Love this and I will definitely be looking at this to share with our woman of the church. Wonderful Blog, Im visiting from “Lynnette’s blog”. Hope you have a great day in the Lord!

  4. This is the first time I have heard or seen this! What a great reference chart to assist parents in the appropriate response to raise great kids.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  5. I have actually seen the other one you mention, but I like the freebie you have up, especially the idea that it gives the punishment for you. Thanks for sharing this!!

  6. Wow! Thank you for this. I’m going to make a copy for my house and I’m going to share it at my bible study tonight. We’re reading “Creative Correction” and this goes right along with it!

  7. Visiting from Lynnette’s site, though I am also a follower of your site already and a subscriber, so you come to my email box every time u post! I love your blog; I love this idea (used something similiar when raising my children) and am going to share the If/Then idea with my daughter to use with my granddaughters!

    Be blessed,Lolli (aka lisa)

  8. Oh, we had one of these when I was younger! We used them for a long time, especially with my sister who has some mild mental handicaps. The rewards were also really cool and I think what we would do sometime is save up different rewards for a big special one. Or… maybe I’m thinking of something different. :) You never know!

    Your little baby was the one that, in essence, got Abigail drawing, right? I’ve seen the picture and heard the story before and they are both very special, and in a sense, beautiful.

    God bless!

  9. Hi Amy,

    What a great blog! I’m visiting from Lynnette’s blog. I just LOVE the longies that you wrote about on another post! I had not heard of those before. Your simple life post was very good as well.

    Thanks for a great blog!

    Tina

  10. Here from Lynnette’s. I really like that chart! I think it is really great and I’m gonna take it!! It’s nice b/c like you mentioned you don’t have to think of a punishment and when the child is order they will know exactly what the punishment is if they do something on the list.

  11. I am visiting from Lynnette’s blog and I ended up over on Emily’s story. I am so touched. My heart aches. What else can I say?

  12. Hi Amy. stopped over from Lynette’s blog to take a look around and realized I had already been here before when I came to see Abigail’s makeover on your blog.

    Have a blessed day!
    Christina

  13. I’m just catching up on blogs and saw that Lynnette featured you! I hope you met lots of new friends! I love your blog. :-)

    In Christ,
    Angela

  14. stopped by from Lynette’s blog, I love this idea. I have saved the charts to my PC and will discuss using them with my husband. :0) thanks so much. I will also be following as I love your blog and parenting ideas.

  15. Hi! I’m vising from Lynnette’s blog. I love your blog, and I’m going to have to peruse it more when I’m able. I read the story about your daughter, and it absolutely brought me to tears. My son was stillborn 5 months ago today, so I am currently going through all the grief you talk about. Thanks for putting yourself out there. It’s a huge encouragement to me.
    ~Amy

  16. I wanted to stop by and WELCOME you to The Well and what a surprise, I read and LOVED a while back, the Me Time article…fantastic!!

    What a great visit I’ve had…it’s so nice to meetcha Amy!

    peace,
    lori

  17. Actually now that I’ve looked at it a bit closer it is just like mine, but some things have been added and/or changed (scripture and behaviors). So I’m not sure if this one is mine or one someone used mine to create their own.

  18. This is the If/Then chart I created YEARS ago and posted on one of my origianal blogs which is no longer up. Glad to see it’s still around!

  19. Thank you SO MUCH for these charts! I have printed them and am “tweaking” them to make them fit my family a little better. I wanted to let you know of a typo I found in the chart… on the very last line (for wastefulness/carelessness), the scripture reference should be Luke 15:13-14, rather than Luke 12:13-14. :)

  20. Hi Amy! Thank you so much for posting this! My husband and I (me more so than him! :-) )have been in need of something like this. I found the other one you mentioned but this one is more concise and detailed. I printed it out and will be using this from now on!
    Thanks so much. Have a blessed week!

    • Mollly,
      I didn’t create the chart, so I can only guess that what she means there is a spanking; however, I would also venture to guess, she’s leaving it open to parent’s to decide what constitutes chastisement.

  21. Thank you Thank you Thank you SOOOOO much for this If/Then list….Sometimes it’s SO hard to determince the right consequences, and this is so Scriptural! Bless you Amy

  22. I’m going to print this on card stock and then laminate it! What a wonderful chart! My husband and I have been trying to figure out different ways to discipline our children and this has just been the answer to what we have been searching for! Thank you so much!!!

  23. I noticed there’s no corporal punishment on the “then” side of your chart. Do you not believe in spanking? Just curious. :)

    • I did not create this If/Then chart, but I would venture to guess “chastisement” would mean “corporal punishment”.

  24. Thanks so much for posting this, Amy! Like another reader commented, I always want to use scripture, but don’t always know where to find it. This will be a great help!

    All God’s blessing to you & your family!

  25. Hi there. I have seen these before and really like them. Thanks for sharing. Can you give me you idea of the definition of chastisement? Some definitions say verbal correction which I believe must mean a lecture. Other definitions say corporal punishment which I guess means a spanking. I’d like to know what others think it means.

    Thanks.Jennifer

    • As I mentioned in the post, I did not create this chart, so I’ve tweaked it to fit our family and can only guess at what the original author meant. I’m not fond of “lectures” as I think after about 5 seconds your child stops listening, so for that, I’d say keep it short and sweet and to the point. Chastisement should be the most stringent of punishments and one that will impact the child the most as the things that receive that punishment are things that cause harm and possible danger to others. Whatever it is must be something that gets the child’s attention.

  26. May I just say that you are my hero!!!!!!! Thank you!!!! Just printed it and my husband is meeting with our sons right now. Putting it into action immediately. We have ways of blessing good behavior but this is so wonderful with how you use Scripture to discipline and train them. You have lessened my stress level and we just got started!

    Thank you!!!

    Mrs Mary Joy Pershing

  27. Just came across this. I really like the if/then chart. Too many times I have to stop and think of a correction and I want to be consistent in correcting the same offenses. Thanks!

  28. What do you do in the “Chastisement” section? I am imagining almost a scarlet letter type of thing? Ideas would be helpful thanks. Also, I would like to see others comments for this post, they are not available.

    • Hello! If you push the “previous” button, you can see the other comments. And “Chastisement” is anything you consider to be your highest form of punishment. It is reserved only for those things that really deserve serious consequences.

      • It seems that an awfully large portion of the behaviors on this chart require the “highest form of punishment.” I also fail to see how or why going to bed 30 minutes early is a “punishment fitting the crime” of not behaving the way a parent desires in church. Or how a loss of privileges is a good solution to “poor manners” – wouldn’t it just be better to teach good manners?

        Not to mention that the Scripture references are taken out of context. Proverbs is not primarily a prescriptive book but descriptive of how the world works.

        I just don’t have words for how sad this chart makes me. My desire is to disciple my children, to teach them, instruct them and model to them a life of grace, just as Christ did with His disciples and does daily with me. I cannot see a single way that this chart, or the mindset behind it, would help me to do that.

        • I agree, I am wholeheartedly for following Biblical ways of raising children. But, this seems way more punitive than actually TEACHING the child, by role model, by acts, etc. Not every child responds to “isolation” (which btw is a horrible word to use for a small child) or “chastisement (funny how she can’t jsut say SPANK) as the best means of redirecting and getting rid of negative/undesirable behaviors. A parent’s job is to learn their child and to work with them, yes parents have the ultimate say, they are over the child protecting and leading, but some children respond better with discussions, quality time, other expressions, besides just punishment. It seems to me, a way to discipline the child is just showing them the world is black and white and very harsh and that is not so, even the Bible and Jesus deal with people differently—did he not tell them “let he without sin cast the first stone” and none did, and he said “go and sin no more”, he did not punitively damage her spirit anymore, but showed mercy and grace. I am not saying there are definitely times when a punishment is necessary, and it does happen in our home, but overall, i see this chart becoming a very harsh way of living in a home, being taken to the extreme by some families, where children are not allowed to speak their mind ever or be “children” (as 2 year olds do not knwo how to share yet, so by taking a toy away, you’re jsut teaching them to use power and force to get what they want instead of imitating sharing with friends)….

  29. I LIKE this!

    I had gotten a chart for Right Behaviors and Wrong Behaviors…but the Wrong Behaviors were vague…and like you said, I would have to come up with my own disciplines. (No thank you!)

    Good thing I hadn’t implemented the other yet. I’m printing this off to go with the Right Behaviors Chart. Thanks!

  30. Thank you so much for the If-Then Chart! It is a huge blessing to find it. I’m going to adapt it for my teenager; if you’d like a copy, please friend me on Facebook at KnowHim NotofHim, for I will post it there when finished.

    In His Service,

    Chris

  31. This is great..thanks! I find myself struggling to figure out what behaviors deserve what severity of punishment..and I’m so glad to have found a Biblical reference! I’ll be sharing this on my blog :)

  32. Wow…I read this and immediately had to go read one of my favorite stories after:
    http://www.atlc.org/Resources/never_violence.php

    Honestly, I was raised in a home like this. I learned early on to comply, to do as I was told, to never buck the system.

    I also learned very early on that those rules only applied to me, not to the ones wielding the “rod”. After all, no one hit THEM when they had a bad day, or didn’t wake up with a smile, or didn’t obey their authorities the first time, every time. No one hit THEM when they were mad, or sad, or angry, or scared.
    THEY got to have bad days, or sad days, or days when they were coming down with a cold and everything was out of sorts and they really just needed some time to relax and not be on their best behavior all the time for fear of what someone would think.

    Of course, I turned out really well in spite of it. I turned out to be one of “those moms” who lovingly guides, instructs, and raises her child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, without ever hitting, striking, shaming, or yelling. Instead of looking for proof-texted verses to prove that I have the right to Lord it over my child, I trust the Holy Spirit to convict him of his need for a Savior while I work on teaching him socially acceptable behaviors.

    If there’s no if/then chart for adults, if you and your spouse don’t take turns hitting each other when you have a bad day, then you have no right to do it to your children. Being defenseless and little and vulnerable doesn’t mean that you deserve victimization.

    • Rebecca,
      You sound like a really wonderful mom. Your children are blessed to have you. You’re the kind of mama that I want to be when I have kids.

    • thank you for this!!! We as adults are ‘usually’ given grace for having a bad day, but kids are given little grace and not allowed to have bad moments or days and that is WRONG!
      as of right now, my husband has been gone for more then a week in another state looking for a job, we are moving in 2 days, leaving not just our home, but our town, church, friends, community that we love. My mom came for several days to help pack and she had a hard time with my 4 1/2 yo, he has been acting out, demanding, very emotional, and needy. She thinks he shouldn’t ‘get away with’ his attitude. He is tired, lonely, missing daddy, and scared. Life is changing, I’m struggling dealing with it, I can only imagine how scary and confusing it is for him. So I should spank him, or send him to his room, isolate myself from him because he needs me, he’s scared and doesn’t know how to deal with all these emotions? No, no, no, no, no! He needs me to stop for a minute, snuggle him, help him verbalize what he is feeling and find a way for him to deal with it. Yes it takes away from some of my packing but his emotional health and well being is more important then my possessions. Mom doesn’t know how much I got rid of and donated only because she wouldn’t stop bugging me when my sons needed me.

  33. I’m saddened by this chart and the number of people who support it. It makes me sad to see Scripture being taken out of context as well. There are much better ways to teach your children to be god-fearing young people!

    • *sigh*. I don’t know who sent all of you and I have not responded to anyone else, but please take this message back for me…
      Read the rest of my blog. Read about my amazing children, including my little Emily. Read about my incredible husband and how God has moved in our family. Read about how we live our lives and refrain from making judgement calls of my parenting based on one post written years ago based on a chart I did not even write. Frankly, I quit using this chart years ago. Why is it still on my blog? Because it is not all bad. You learn to take the meat and leave the bones and discern as you mature. It would be so nice if all of you had taken a little more time to get to know me first. However, I do thank all of you for being respectful in how you said the things you said. I just think you would quite surprised to learn I am not the monster you have made me out to be.
      Blessings,
      Amy

      • I left a comment because of this:
        “Why is it still on my blog? Because it is not all bad. You learn to take the meat and leave the bones and discern as you mature. ”

        While that is a valued perspective – and while I’m delighted to learn you are no longer using the chart! <3 – I urge you to reconsider leaving it up.
        As you can see, it's gained a little more traffic thanks to Pinterest, and I worry about all of the new moms, the moms who question themselves, the moms in churches who are giving them gristly bones with far too little meat.
        Just read the other recent comments – the thanks! that is great! I'll start using it! – and you'll see what I mean.
        You've progressed in your parenting journey to the point where you can recognize the dangers in the chart, but leaving it in circulation without disclaimer or warning, or without pointing to other healthier resources, means that it's a potential stumbling block to lots of Moms.
        I'd love to read a post from you on your parenting journey away from the strictness represented by this chart <3 And I assure you that I bear no personal animosity whatsoever – I wanted to present the other side, if you will, of what an entire childhood of that style of parenting produces.

  34. It saddens me when Christian parents hold such high standards on their children that they would never hold themselves to completely. Why is it our children are under the law but we are under grace?

  35. Wow, I am really saddend by the amount of people who have come on here to judge you and your parenting. I hope you are not too discouraged by the negativity they have brought here. In fact, I see it as you are clearly doing something that scares Satan because there is a lot of effort going into this attack. I just came across your blog this morning as I was looking for scriptures to fill in my own If-Then chart. These kind of pre-set charts are fantastic to help guide our children in the correct path. The previous commentors seem to not have a firm grasp of hour our Heavenly Father directs us. Yes, we are saved by Grace through Faith. But our Father also disciplines us and there are consequences for not obeying. Are you other commentors implying that we do not, as adults, have reprocussions for grumpiness and bad behavior? I know for a fact that consequences always come! No, we maybe don’t get a swat, but if you yell at an authority (this yelling at a police office who pulled you over) there will be consequences. If you are lazy, there will be consequences…you’ll be fired! These are just two examples of why our children need to be instructed in things like respect, self-control, etc. no matter how they feel. But also, no where in this chart does it say “always spank your children”! In any parenting method you should use your own common sense. And if you can’t figure out THAT then you have bigger problems than a need for a chart. If your preschooler is having a massive meltdown but you know they are tired and hungry, should you punish them until they are perfect…. no of course not! Insert common sense!! Help them get their self control, feed them and put them to bed. I also don’t understand why you are attacking this wonderful mother’s parenting, when all she is doing is providing a resource for other parents who want it! And its a resource that doesn’t tell you how to discipline, it leaves it totally open for each family to use a method that is right for their child. I, for one, am grateful and my family will be incredibly blessed for it! Thank you so much! I am so glad to know there are mothers out there like you who are raising arrows to be so sharp!

    • Thank you, Lacey. I decided to avoid a war of words, but as long as they were respectful I would let the comments go through. I appreciate your words. They are very much what I believe.

      • I think that what many people may not realize, through lack of experience, is how challenging it is to raise a large family. The challenge is, of course! a blessing, but a mama on her own is easily overwhelmed. With our 9 children (all adopted and between the ages of 4 and 11), I need a chart like this. Perhaps the chart is extreme, but no where on it does the chart specify spanking! If you do not choose to spank then insert a logical choice! Maybe I will take the situation into account, or maybe my husband has been out on an oil rig for three weeks and I have been on my own for a long time and I just need a quick chart so that I remember to be consistent. Isn’t consistency what all parenting experts agree is the most important aspect of parenting?

        For those who believe they are perfect parents with perfect children, I suppose I applaud you~ I for one am an imperfect parent raising imperfect children in an imperfect world. God alone knows how I am really doing with my 9 little blessings, but He loves us all.

        Last piece of “wisdom,” No one who lives in glass houses should throw stones.

        • Melissa, that is a perfect explanation of why this chart is so awesome! Consistency is really tough when you are completely worn out. My husband works on the oil rigs too, but I only have 2 kiddos so far. I get so exhausted after a few weeks on my own I am seriously impressed and encouraged that you are doing it with a whole crew!

    • Thank you Lacey! I found this chart from a friend and was disappointed to see all the negative feedback. I get so frustrated from attacks when people use a “resource” in their parenting. I have two children who I adore! I praise them daily, cuddle them constantly and show them grace just like my heavenly father has shown me. However, they were born little sinners and test me daily! My sweet 3 yr old girl has been very trying lately. Parenting takes planning and goals and charts like this help me have a plan. Does that mean I turn to my chart and ignore the person standing in front of me? Never! That means I see these sins in her life and know that I need to have a plan to show her that they are sins – even at a young age.

      • Just found this too, and was astonished at some of these comments. I agree with them that we are not under law, but under grace. I also believe that true grace would see that:
        1. Chastisement does not have to mean spanking
        2. There is nothing to stop people from adapting this chart to suit their family’s needs, and
        3. Grace does not judge harshly another mother based on one small piece of information.

        I look forward to putting this great chart to use — hopefully in as wise and gracious a manner as possible!

  36. Just printed it off; thank you! Our son is only 2 months old, so I suppose it’s a little early still, but at least this is something I’m ahead on instead of behind! :)

  37. I love your if and then chart. I had actually already purchased the doorpost version, but I added yours to it. My question for you is, do you have a version of doorpost bleesings chart? I find that I tend to discipline all day long but I tend not to be rewarding my four children ages ranging from 2 to 8 for good behavior. Thank you!

    • I do not have the Doorposts version. I do have the Ginger Plowman one and like that it has verses of what behavior to “put on” to lead the child in the right direction. I would encourage you to purposely start your day by looking for those good things the children do and praising them for those things. Discipline is needed, but praise is needed almost more so. :)

    • Chastisement, in this context, is the highest form of punishment and should only be used in the most extreme cases. This would not be something you do regularly. So, you would have to decide as a family what that form of punishment is.

  38. I use the if/then rule here…. SOO much easier than time outs and you get to clearly stat the unwanted behavior and the consiquence…

  39. I am personally surprised and shocked to see the number of people who are chastising the MOM who uses such a chart. I’ve used If/Then charts for a number of years. In fact, I have one that is basically a wipe on/wipe off board.
    THE POINT of the chart is NOT that THIS IS THE exact same way you should discipline your child. OF COURSE a 2 year old will respond differently than teens and need different punishments. Of COURSE all children are wired differently.
    The POINT of the If/Then charts is that you can CUSTOMIZE the charts to your OWN CHILDREN. And with mine, you can change punishments as you go along/children change, etc. . . . .
    The manufacture who sells this charts basically has many “blank spots” for families to come together and decide their OWN consequences to the actions of behaviour. There is also a “Blessings” chart to reward children when they are caught “being good.” I find this method highly Biblical and NO! It is NOT TO HARSH when properly done.

  40. What do you mean by “Taking liberties that don’t belong to you?” I like the chart idea, adapted a bit for our family, but I wasn’t sure what that meant. Thanks for sharing!

    • I’ve always seen this as a child trying to take over a domain that is not his. For instance, giving permission to another child to do something or telling another child they can’t do something without mom and dad’s authority would fall under this.

  41. I just found a link to this on the Modest Mom blog, and I emailed it to myself (I was reading on my iPod) so that I could print it out and try it. I wish I had seen something like this earlier! I believe it will not only help me be consistent with certain issues, but it will also help me to remember to be Scriptural about my discipline. And I think my husband will appreciate it, too!

    • I tell people that chastisement would be your highest form of punishment. It should be saved for only the worst of offensives and not used often.

  42. I wanted to thank you for making this available. I am a mom to 4 children (girls-22 &18 and boys-12 &10). I love the idea of this chart because I have realized over the last few years that we did not do a very good “job” with my older girls. We let them get away with things without punishment and didn’t take the time to find scripture to show them how God wants them to live their life. I do believe following in His ways brings us blessings and saves us from a lot of pain. Even though my older girls are not “bad,” they are not living their life for the Lord. They are extremely selfish and in my opinion wasting so much of their life.
    I heard about this chart in a “5 Conversations you must Have with your Boys” class at church. We have felt God tugging on our hearts to do foster care and are now in the training process. Sometimes I feel like “How can I make a difference in other children, when I couldn’t with my older children?” I can only imagine what we will see on our fostering journey. Each child will be different and what works for some will not work with others. I want to love them, point them to Christ and I want them to know we are fair in whatever rules and punishments we have. I feel like this chart is going to be a huge help in that. It gives us the opportunity, before we have children in our home, to create a chart that is fair to all and points them to Christ. Thank you!

  43. I have ten children and have just found this website with the ” If Then ” chart. I was wondering what was meant by chastisement. Please explain to me what is meant by chastisement. Thanks

    • Shanna,
      While this is not my chart originally, I have always told people in the comments section that “chastisement” would be the highest form of discipline in your home, saved only for the worst of offenses and not something which is regularly doled out.
      Blessings,
      Amy

  44. Amy- Thanks so much for having this available! you just saved me a TON of work, and it is exactly what we are praying for to start 2014! As life and blogging get busier, it’s such a blessing to simplify for everyone’s sake!
    Happy New Year!
    Blessings~
    Jen

  45. Hi Amy, one of the consequences is “chastisement”. How do you define chastisement? How does one Biblically chastise a child?
    Thanks
    Dani