What you don’t want is:
- Your little one to take off all the stickers and put them on in one go
- Not understand that there is something that needs to be done BEFORE they get the stickers, or
- They just don’t get the idea at all!
Here we have a simple checklist for you to help you work out when your child is likely to be ready to use behavior charts – then you can go ahead and build one of our lovely behavior charts, and hopefully it’ll actually work :-D
1. Do they understand AND FOLLOW simple instructions?
This is VERY important. You will need to explain specifically what they get a sticker for, and if they aren’t able to understand what you mean, and follow those instructions. You are going to be a bit stuck :-D
2. Are they happy if they don’t get an instant reward? Though you can adapt this if you feel they need one!
Younger children need instant gratification – depending on how you are using the chart, this may be OK.
If you are giving them a sticker for using the potty immediately after you do…then this works fine.
However, you may be giving them stickers every time they have another kind of success, perhaps at the end of the day. For example, if they let you wash their hair without getting upset.
if they get enough stickers over a week, you are then going to give them a little reward, then they need to understand that they have to wait a little for the incentive. Children under three struggle with this, and its best to gauge your particular child. You might try it and see how you go. In fact, the stickers may be enough incentive anyway!
3. Do they understand consequences?
If your child doesn’t realise that if they don’t brush their teeth then there is no sticker – you are on a bit of a losing streak aren’t you!
Do observe your child to see if they understand that their actions have simple consequences before starting to use a behavior chart.
4. Will they understand the relationship with the pictures, and the behaviors you are targeting to improve?
Most young children, particularly if they are exposed to reading from an early age, understand symbolism. However, it is worth checking this with them, so the picture with the potty means you expect them to use the potty not the floor, etc! ;-)
5. Do they have enough fine motor control to put the sticker on with just a little bit of help?
Finally, can they pop a sticker on without too much help. I know many a determined toddler…and you don’t want them to be too frustrated that they can’t add their stickers to your lovely new chart themselves, do you?
Here is a lovely printable version of the checklist for you – complete with a lovely summer theme!
It is also worth taking the advice we have in this post on the five top tips to make your sticker charts work…there are some great ideas here to make sure that once you start using a chart, that they then really do work for you.
If there is anything else that you can add to my list – do let me know below…always happy to update these resources with feedback.
Of course – the use of behavior charts is also a personal choice, so this is just a guide for those that are interested :-D
Pencil checklist images above courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.