A Sticker Applause!


This “road map” has places marked when the cars are placed on the road. When all the spots are covered with a car, the chart is complete.

Sticker Charts are an easy and economical way to reward positive behavior and give an extra oomph when needed.

When our kids were small, I used sticker charts for a variety of things:

  • potty training (one sticker for #1, and two stickers for #2)
  • piano practicing
  • homework completed before bedtime
  • bedrooms tidied before school
  • attitude improvements

When you’ve struggled and scolded, begged and badgered, cajoled and called, reprimanded and rehashed, a sticker chart can help your child (and you) push through to the desired result.

Sticker charts do three things:

  1. Reward positive behavior, positive responses (applauding what is right instead of complaining about the wrong)
  2. Track results (your child can see how he is doing; so can you!)
  3. Give incentives to complete the chart (keeping on!)

If you’re almost there with daytime or nighttime potty training, make a sticker chart.  You choose how many stickers a child needs to earn before he gets a “prize.”

If a child struggles with complaining about practicing music, a sticker chart gives him a reason to practice without complaining. You get to set the ground rules: (1) practice without being reminded (2) practice without complaining (3) complete practice by suppertime or before going out to play. [I recognize that if a child won’t practice he ought to not be allowed to take lessons; yet there are times when a child needs to practice even though spring fever has arrived.]

You choose how many stickers he has to earn before he gets a prize. You also choose the prize!

If a child struggles with temper outbursts, biting, or other attitudes or behaviors, a sticker chart can help. Use the chart to make him want to control his temper or respond kindly when he feels like being mean.

When there’s an altercation and he doesn’t have a tantrum, or when he responds with one warning (you decide), a sticker chart will help him see how he’s doing day by day or week by week. It also helps mom realize (sometimes) that progress is being made!

For the child who bites or scratches, making it through a day without biting (or scratching) can be recognized with a sticker. You choose how many stickers need to be on the chart before he wins a prize.

When your child’s room continues to stay unkempt, reward a tidy room before school with a sticker. When he’s earned enough stickers, he gets a prize. Don’t make it too easy, especially if your child is older. Make him work for the prize. He will appreciate it more.

About those prizes.

Prizes should not be extravagant. They can be a lollipop, an ice cream cone at the Tastee Freeze, a matchbox car, a horn for a bike, a trip to the Dollar store, a visit to Grandma’s, a ride on a motorcycle, or a trip to town with dad – you name it. Figure out what pleases your kid the most and invest in that. It will be well worth the effort and time spent when success is accomplished!

About those stickers.

Stickers are so inexpensive. You choose the stickers by the child’s interests.

At my house this past weekend, we started a sticker chart for a kid who loves anything with a motor. I am not an artist, but I managed to draw a road along the paper chart. For each successful bathroom visit, the child got to choose which car he’d put on the road next. He chose two cars when he successfully made it to the bathroom for #2.

You can reward with stickers for nap time dryness or nighttime dryness, or both. My kids still remember the year I bought peanut stickers and our toddler got to feed the “elephant” a peanut every time he made it to the potty.

My recommendation is to have your sticker charts be used for specific outcomes. Children should not have a sticker chart for everything they do.

The older the child is, the more stickers he should earn before he gets a prize. For some of our charts, a behavior had to be on consecutive days, such as two weeks. If the child failed to receive a sticker on a given day, we started the 14 days all over. For a younger child, that might be too difficult. For an older child who really does know better, starting over helps him consider consequences for poor choices.

When it’s time to narrow in on behavior or an attitude, you will find this method, if used correctly, will guarantee success.

About making the Chart.

Construction paper or poster board sections work great for the chart. You can draw trees, a yard, or a zoo – whatever the theme of your stickers, and you’re ready to go.  All that is left to do is add the stickers, one at a time!

I recognize that our children need to learn consequences for poor behavior. Yet there are times when focusing on what is done right will reap powerful results. Jesus used positive reinforcement, and we should, too. Using a sticker chart helps children feel pleased with doing things right – and encourages family support and applause as well. It’s a win-win for everyone.

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