Posted by: Hannah | 03/28/2013

sticker charts – update

It’s been a full work-week under the sticker chart regime, so I thought I’d give a quick update.

Short version? Sticker charts are genius, I’m an idiot for never trying them before, and my stock answer for everything now is “sticker charts OMG”.


Every day this week, he’s gone to the potty after lunch and successfully pooped in under ten minutes. He’s happier. His behaviour has been 100% better. Yesterday he was downright funny and genuinely pleasant to have around. I’m thrilled at the turnaround, and also a little sad that his anger issues and volatility all winter were almost certainly as a direct result of physical pain from near-chronic constipation. Let this be a lesson, parents: if your kids aren’t ready to potty train, please don’t force the issue.

One fly in the ointment – he hasn’t actually pooped in the potty at home yet. Last weekend he had two accidents, one in his pants and one in a PullUp before bed. He’s about to be home for four days, so I’m on tenterhooks waiting to see if he can stick with the program.


Pixie has had a good deal of continued success with her ‘smiles’ chart, at least at my house. At home it’s another story – the tension level there is high, and she’s putting up a huge fight every morning during the “getting up & ready” routine because she knows it’s a reliable button to push. It dawned on me today as well that because they live next door, there isn’t a nice car ride to change the channel on whatever issues crop up during the morning routine like there is for most kids in childcare, so she arrives while the morning routine meltdown is still in progress. The promise of a gold star for a pleasant drop-off kept her on the straight and narrow every day but this morning, when she arrived in full-on pout that soon progressed to ultra-tantrum.

However, that hiccup aside, she’s done much better overall, at least for me. Her parents asked me to make her a sticker chart for home too, so with Pixie’s help I did, but honestly I think they need to address some of the upheaval on the home front before any amount of stickers are going to work.


Harry has a sticker chart? The heck you say! Yup, he hates being left out of things so he begged me to come up with one for him. His one homework responsibility these days is checking his agenda every night and giving me notices that come home from school, and he’s been less than stellar at that, so we agreed on a homework chart. He has one lone gold star. I think he’s surprised that it isn’t working better, but dude, you are 7.5 years old. If the promise of weekly allowance doesn’t always make you keep your bedroom clean, the promise of one gold star isn’t going to remind you about checking your bookbag for homework.


Not to be outdone, Ron asked for an “eats his dinner” chart. I was very reticent because of his personality, and last night proved that I was right to be concerned – he sat politely and remembered his manners while he painstakingly ate only the pastry and turkey bits in the homemade pot pie that he had TWO HELPINGS OF a mere two weeks ago, but that doesn’t warrant a sticker. Then he had a crisis of self-worth and needed many hugs and reassurances that we were very pleased with his improved dinner-table behaviour, but that he needed to eat everything on the plate in order to get the sticker.


Now, this is funny. Arthur & Daisy’s mom picked them up yesterday and saw all the charts on the wall, so she asked about them. “Why doesn’t Arthur have one?” she asked. I explained that he didn’t want one, at all. AT ALL. For any reason. “Well, but there must be something you can come up with that he needs to work on! Let’s think! Arthur, what can we do for your sticker chart??”

He just glared at her.

I finally interceded and gently explained that unless the child wants the chart and is motivated to fill it with stickers, that it is a complete waste of time. I said that I had some ideas if he ever changed his mind, but that it was only ever intended to be a tool for the preschoolers anyway, so I wasn’t much bothered if he never wanted one.



  1. Hee hee. The Arthur/ Louis’ mom thing made me smile. I can just imagine if I asked my kids if they wanted a sticker chart. They would be totally Arthur.

    I’m happy that Louis has turned things around. Poor muffin, all that pressure to potty train. POOR YOU TOO OMG POOP.

    Pixie…the thought of all the upheaval and chaos at her house makes me very happy she has you in her life as a constant.

  2. My babysitting 2.5 year old is restarting potty training (they tried some time last year, which was pretty early, but it wasn’t a drama either way) and they have a sticker fridge. Ingenious – impossible to lose, hard to cheat on, and central. I didn’t notice it having much effect today though.

  3. LOL. I was surprised by how well the sticker chart worked for Owl’s potty training. I don’t really understand the joy of putting a sticker on a piece of poster board, but then I don’t get why dogs are motivated to each milk bones, so to each their own.

  4. Oh, and here’s a brilliant idea that might work better for Harry than the sticker chart. It’s an idea used by Monty Roberts, aka The Man Who Talks To Horses, with his 50 odd foster kids.

    He says that you make a contract, an “if this then that” contract stating that if the kid does A, B, and C, then he/she can have something highly prized – a day fishing with Dad, go to a movie, etc. However, if kid does NOT to A, B, and C, then the kid has to perform a penalty outside of their normal chores, like cleaning out the garage. Both parent and child signs.

    The parent must ALWAYS deliver as contracted when the child achieves the goal, thus setting a good example about keeping promises, but then the child must ALWAYS be required to perform the penalty when the child does not achieve the goal. If the child does not, then all pleasure is suspended (television, going out with friends etc) until the action is performed. No scolding. No guilt. When the penalty is complete the parent just says “I’m proud of you for keeping your word, and I’m sure you’ll do better next week. Let’s make a new contract.”

    This way the child learns not just to work for what they want, but they learn about accountability, keeping one’s word, and trust. Having it written down and signed by both parties prevents quibbling and negotiating later about the exact terms, or claims that “I never agreed to that!” He swears by it, and I totally plan to use with when Owl is a little older.

  5. My son was an early riser – when he was 3.5 I did a “Don’t wake Mommy” sticker chart so that when he woke up early he learned to play by himself until his clock radio played at 7:30. Then he’d come running in saying “I hear music! Time to wake up!”

    And charts still work. After years with no charts, I just did a chart with him at age 11 to get him to remember to clear his dishes from the table after each meal, put away his backpack when he came home, and not leave clothes in the bathroom at night. He got a point for each time he did one of those things, and after 100 points he got a pack of Magic (MTG) cards. So yes, sticker charts rock!

  6. Everyone in this house needs a sticker chart, even the cat. [no whining for food. no waking me up before 6 am] Should I start with the compliant older child and hope the younger “wants one too” or should I start with the problem-ridden younger child and build on any possible momentum. Or should I run away and hide in a cave for five years. Hm.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: