April 22, 2014

sticker charts for the perfectionist child

cruz turned two and a half right around that london was born. as much as i'd like to tell you that the transition from one to two children was easy, it was not. partly due to his age, and partly due to sharing mommy and daddy with another child, cruz had a rough time. i haven't written too much on this because i understand it and i want to respect cruz's right to have had a tough time with all the change. so yadda yadda yadda, we've been using a lot of sticker charts around here.

i've tried a lot of different sticker chart strategies, and it took some trial and error before we found a system that seemed to work for us. like everyone, we work on multiple behaviors at once. we're being sweet to sister, carrying our dishes to the sink, saying please and thank you without prompting... cruz responds really well to sticker charts, so we used them, but all of a sudden the doors of my kitchen pantry exploded with charts. and there seemed to be a different system for each behavior we were targeting. there are only a few times a day that cruz could earn a sticker for putting his clothes in the hamper, but a seemingly endless number of opportunities for saying thank you! not to mention the times i wanted to give a positive reinforcement for a behavior that didn't have it's own chart.

like a normal person would, cruz was getting frustrated with the array of color-coded charts i had for him. everything he was doing got reduced to a checklist. the rules were constantly changing and he never seemed to get to the end reward. aggravating, right?

so we threw out the old sticker chart rules and ushered in a new system that's been working very well for the last few month: the tower of stickers.

the idea is simple: whenever we want to positively reinforce a behavior, we put a sticker on the chart. the stickers start at the bottom of the page, and we build up until there's a "tower." if there's a tower by friday, cruz gets to have a "jammie movie night." the reward is big enough that he cares about getting a movie night, but he understands that he needs to wait until friday to watch his movie. we aren't stuck with handing out rewards at random times. and importantly, because there's no set number of stickers cruz needs to earn (we're looking at a general positive growth model #statnerds), there hasn't been a sense of despair over "not having enough."

best of all, it's working. cruz understands that good behavior = praise + stickers = movie night. he loves adding to his tower and we've seen his behavior improve because we're able to be consistent with the praise and reward. the other day he was upstairs. i heard him sneeze and then he hollered down, "i said bless you to myself! i'd like a sticker, please!" how could i not, right?


  1. Totally bookmarking this for the future. You're doin good, momma.

  2. Sometimes it's the simplest solutions that work the best.


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