Children are not born knowing how to behave in socially acceptable ways. They need support and help as they learn how to be responsible and complete what they need to. For some children, sticker charts can be a wonderful tool for parents to teach children how to take on responsibility and manage their own behavior. There are many ways to use sticker charts, all of which can be helpful for young children.
Sticker charts can be preprinted charts that you write your child’s name on along with their different chores and responsibilities. Alternatively, they can just be pieces of paper or index cards that you write on. Every time your child completes something that they are supposed to, praise him or and put a sticker on the chart. This type of concrete feedback can help young children, who are still developing their ability to recall past events.
To make them buy into the idea even more, try letting your child decorate his or her own sticker chart. They can write their name, decorate it with markers or crayons, and hang it up themselves. Involving children in this plan will help them understand that they are in control of their behaviors and that this is a process for them, not just a way to please you. It’s always a positive when you are able to turn even a simple idea like a reward chart into an activity, to keep your child engaged and learning.
This type of behavior management plan is also good for parents in helping them keep their sanity. Children can be motivated to do what you want if you remind them that they’ll get a sticker for it and that makes the job of parenting much easier in many ways! Simply reminding them, “If you remember to brush your teeth, you can have another sticker,” can be a powerful motivator. Additionally, for some children, being able to look at past successes will help them have the confidence that they can succeed again.
Depending on your child, you may be able to just have the stickers be the rewards or you may need to figure out something that they get when they reach ten or twenty stickers. A special food, a trip to the park, an extra bedtime story, or their choice of a TV program or computer game are all low-cost or free options that can serve to motivate your child. Remember to also set achievable goals for your child. For younger children, set low goals- like three stickers a week for listening skills. Make sure you are on the look out for examples of listening, and praise good listening BIG! Older children may be able to work towards bigger goals. You can use sticker charts to help start to build responsibilities, like simple chores. Preschoolers are able to learn simple households tasks, such as wiping the table after dinner or setting out the placemats before dinner. Remember, it isn’t about how well they are able to do the chore. It is about helping preschool children begin to learn how to participate in a community.