Little kids love stickers. Everyone who lives within shouting distance of a small child knows this. And a lot of kids would do almost anything for a sticky piece of paper with a cartoon character on one side. Including chores, homework, learning to use the toilet, and reaching behavior goals in school and at home. Have any doubt? Just look at what happened in this teacher’s classroom, and you won’t anymore.

Stickers are a fun, cheap way to reward small children for doing what we want them to. And sticker charts are a great way to teach children about patience and discipline, and to let them see how their hard work is paying off.

They’re also a great way to teach kids that people who do a great job deserve to hear they are doing well. We all spend a lot of time hearing about what we need to improve, because that is important, too. However, getting an “great job” when you have actually done a great job feels wonderful!

It’s a Sticker Takeover

It’s no surprise that sticker charts seem to have taken over the world. Anywhere you have kids, you have sticker charts. Parents and teachers can make them as simple or as complicated as they want them to be. They can set up a chart on a daily basis, or allow kids to save up points to “buy” prizes later on.

You can make thematic sticker charts to go with specific lessons or goals. You can buy pre-made charts. Kids can even help to design and make their own sticker charts. And there’s no denying it’s a whole lot of fun for adults to pick out the stickers.

It’s a Moneymaker

It’s likewise no surprise that stickers and sticker charts are big business. No, make that huge business. A Google search on stickers turns up over a million hits. An Amazon search turns up thousands of stickers available to buy.

You can buy custom sticker charts for teachers, parents, therapists, and other professionals. You can have stickers made with kids’ names on them. Or you could even create your own. And if you find you like it, there’s even advice out there about how to start your own business making stickers.

But Does it Work?

Before we get to the teacher’s great day in class, a question: is it all hype? Some new research seems to show that sticker charts may not be all they’re cracked up to be.

Not because they don’t work, but, some believe they work too well. According to some, stickers and sticker charts are training kids to expect a reward every time they do something “good” — and to respond to requests with “what will you give me?” Which may be “not all bad,” when it comes to negotiating salary later on in life. But, makes things more difficult when kids are no longer interested in the prizes.

One parent, speaking to the Atlantic, said:

“We told our daughter that she could earn extra points toward her goal of getting a new phone if she would help us clean the kitchen after dinner, but she just said, ‘No, thanks.’ Now what?”

However, an article in Slate debunked this. “The research is wildly misunderstood,” they proclaimed. “So go ahead, heap rewards on your kids.”

Not everything works as intended all the time. And most things that work with small children don’t work with older ones. However, for many, stickers work great for rewarding wonderful behaviors you want to see more often.

How do we know?

A Lesson Learned

Regardless of any controversy, one child seems to have learned an unexpected lesson. And it’s a sweet one.  Reddit user malak_oz, a teacher, reports:

“I often give stickers to my students who are well behaved… Today a 4-year-old gave me this and said ‘You’ve been a very good teacher today.'”

Whatever you think of sticker charts, you have to agree. This teacher is doing something right:


Photo by Reddit user malak_oz. Via Reddit.

Featured Image is in the Public Domain, by Tech Sergeant J. LaVoie, via the U.S. Air Force.

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