Sticker charts have been scientifically proven to be powerful tools for positive reinforcement of desired behavior in young children. Time-tested in both the classroom and home environment, sticker charts allow parents and teachers to motivate children to stay focused on repeating positive behavior in order to earn desired prizes. Blue Bee Printing recommends our sticker printing wizard to parents, since it allows you to access sticker printing custom made for your child’s unique behavior chart.
You see, children may be more likely to respond to personalized stickers, or stickers customized with a theme that is meaningful to the child. If you’re working on potty-training your toddler, for example, stickers created with an image of a child’s potty may help make that connection stick. Each time your toddler uses the potty, they will see the little line-up of stickers marking prior achievements!
If you have an older child who is learning to participate in taking care of a family pet, we can help you create stickers with your beloved pet’s face on them. Every time your child feeds the pet, brushes the pet, or walks the pet, they can earn a cute sticker of the pet they’re caring for.
Alternatively, you can create stickers that help keep track of what your child is working toward. If they want candy or ice cream that week, perhaps they need to earn five ice cream stickers. If they want to go bowling or see a movie, stickers featuring a strike (POW!) or a carton of movie popcorn could signify their progress.
You can use sticker charts to encourage almost any type of positive behavior, but Blue Bee Printing cannot stress enough that sticker charts only work in just this way. When used to punish, negative sticker charts can elicit anxiety behaviors and even depression in some children.
But what if the behavior you want to work on is a negative behavior? Arguing with a sibling, perhaps, or throwing tantrums in the grocery store? For challenges like these, you’ll need to reframe the issue in a positive way and get out ahead of the behavior. The conversation could start something like this, depending on the age and maturity of the child:
“I’ve set up this sticker chart for you. I know you’ve been wanting a set of toy cars, and I want to help you earn them. I have these car stickers I created just for this project! Take a look. Every time we go to the grocery store and you are able to make it through the store without throwing a fit, I am going to let you choose a car sticker to put on your chart! When you’ve earned three stickers, I will take you to buy a toy car. Then you can start earning another one on more grocery trips.”
Once you’ve established the parameters for earning stickers, set your child up for success. Don’t take them grocery shopping when they’re tired, cranky, or hungry. That will come later, after they’ve built up their ability to sustain this behavior. Take them shopping when they’re most likely to be able to remain cheerful, and remind them before you go inside of both the great behavior you expect and the desired reward they are going to earn.
Once your child has been able to sustain the behavior with only a little effort even under less than ideal circumstances for a while, it may be time to shift your attention to a different challenging behavior. Alternatively, if your child is still working on mastering a given behavior but the offered reward has lost its value, you can change up the reward. Cars, as we mentioned before, could give way to a candy bar, which could give way to a movie rental; as long as the prize is reasonable for your family’s budget and keeps your child focused on working with you on the behavior, then you’re on the right track.
At any given time, it is probably best to limit your focus to a few different areas of development. Perhaps one challenging behavior and two positive habits you’re trying to build, though this will vary from child to child and should only be taken as a suggested starting point.
- Keep the sticker chart positive.
- Choose prizes that your child wants that they can achieve relatively quickly.
- Let your child know ahead of time what the desired behavior looks like and how many stickers it will take to earn the prize.
Happy sticker charting, and let us know if we can help you create custom stickers for your child’s behavior chart.