By: Kyle Mutch  M.S., CCC-SLP

Sometimes children need a little extra motivation to demonstrate appropriate behavior. Sticker charts are one of the easiest and simplest ways to provide those incentives! They help us focus on the positives instead of reacting to the behavior (e.g., hitting, ignoring the teacher’s directions, yelling, throwing food, refusing to take turns, transitioning, etc.). 

Here are the steps to creating a successful sticker chart:

  1. Determine what is causing the behavior! Is it difficulty expressing their emotions? Is it struggling to deal with frustration or disappointment?  Is it attention-seeking? Are they avoiding the task? Is the task too challenging?
  2. Set clear expectations. Discuss what you would like them to do and say when they are in that situation. Put a picture of the child demonstrating the appropriate behaviors at the top of the chart. Role-play and practice the scenario.
    *If it’s determined the behavior is attention-seeking, then it is recommended to ignore the negative behaviors (as long as they are not injuring themselves or others) and provide as much attention and praise as possible when they display appropriate behaviors.
  3. Choose the reward. The prize at the end needs to be motivating and unique to the child’s interests. Here are a few ideas: a trip to the park, ice cream or another tasty treat, extra computer/game time, rent or go to a movie! The child is a key member of this decision! Have them come up with ideas too.
  4. Make it achievable. Set them up for success. A good place to start is around 3-10 stickers depending on the age of the child and the severity of the behaviors. I would consider 1-2 stickers if the child requires immediate reinforcement.

Things to consider:

  • Stickers can be substituted for checkmarks, stars, footballs, smiley faces, or whatever image works for them!
  • Sticker charts may not work for your child and that’s okay. They aren’t for everyone. Try to consider the function of their behavior to help you address it. 
  • Use the chart in different environments to help generalize the behavior
  • Be consistent with what behaviors you reinforce

For more information about encouraging positive behaviors, or to make an appointment with our therapists, contact us today!