Sticker and star charts are types of behaviour charts that track progress by awarding children a sticker or star when they reach a positive goal. Many parents embrace sticker and star charts because they are positive ways of encouraging children toward good behaviour and children often enjoy seeing the build up of stickers and stars which they know will result in a small reward later. Sticker and star charts tend to work best with children who understand the abstract concepts of good behaviour and can remain focused for the delayed gratification of an overall prize.
Topics for Sticker and Star Charts
The topics that should be included on sticker and star charts are usually those that a child needs to work on. Some parents prefer to keep these charts to just a few topics, which is a good idea as it focuses attention on a child’s weaker areas and makes it easier for parents to remember how many stickers or stars should be awarded at the end of the day. If a parent is willing they can also set up a chart to include multiple stickers or stars for effort, though this can often lead to much discussion and even arguments when a child believes that (s)he has put forth more effort than the parent perceived. Common tasks that are included on sticker and start charts for children include:
- Getting up when called/the alarm sounds.
- Getting dressed by themselves.
- Completing assigned daily chores.
- Tidying away toys at the end of the day.
- Finishing dinner.
- Getting ready for bed when asked.
Rewards for Sticker and Star Charts
Sticker and star charts do require patience as children must watch their “points” build up before they receive any sort of reward to celebrate their good behaviour. Generally a full week is a good amount of time to run sticker and star charts, and deciding on the reward at the start of the week is always a good idea. Older children may wish to hold out for longer for a bigger reward, such as a month with the promise of a day trip if they accrue enough stickers or stars, but that is something each parent can decide on their own. Rewards needn’t be expensive, and in fact treats that have little monetary value can often be the most memorable. Examples of rewards include:
- Allowing the child to select what is for dinner one night during the next week.
- A game of football in the park with a parent.
- A trip to the library for a selection of new books or DVDs.
- Allowing the child to stay up an hour later than normal a weekend night.
- Taking the child on a visit to a local museum.
- Agreeing to host a special play date in the upcoming week.
Using sticker and star charts is a good way for parents and children to remain positive about the children’s behaviour. Before beginning a chart, parents should decide how many stickers or stars will be required for a reward and they must communicate this number – and how stickers and stars will be awarded – to their children to avoid any confusion later. When children are successful and achieve the desired number, parents and children should celebrate in a meaningful way that allows them to spend time together since this is the best reward of all.