Effective Implementation of Sticker Charts for Behavior Modification

Sticker charts are widely used as positive behavior reinforcement tools, particularly in elementary classrooms and for preschoolers. This article delves into the effective use of sticker charts to promote desired behaviors in children, drawing insights from reputable sources such as Psychology Today, Teaching Exceptional Kinders, and Verywell Family.

Key Facts

  1. Identify specific behaviors: Determine the behaviors you want to target and focus on a few at a time. Trying to change too many behaviors at once can be overwhelming for a child.
  2. Set clear goals: Clearly define the behavior you want to encourage and make it specific. For example, “getting ready for bed without any arguments” or “sharing toys with siblings”.
  3. Choose meaningful rewards: Select rewards that are meaningful and motivating for the child. Involve the child in the process by offering choices within a predetermined range, such as choosing between a new puzzle or a new book.
  4. Determine the number of stickers needed: Decide how many stickers the child needs to earn in order to receive the reward. This gives the child a clear target to work towards and helps maintain motivation.
  5. Make the reward achievable: Ensure that the reward is attainable within a reasonable timeframe. Setting a goal that is too distant or requires too many stickers may diminish the child’s motivation. Choose smaller rewards that can be earned in a few days to a week.
  6. Keep the reward visible: Display the reward on a shelf or in a visible location to serve as a reminder of what the child is working towards. Verbal reminders can also be helpful when out and about.
  7. Be consistent: Consistency is key in using sticker charts. Make sure to give the child a sticker every time they engage in the targeted behavior. Inconsistency can lead to a lack of motivation and confusion for the child.
  8. Connect the sticker to the behavior: Give the sticker to the child immediately after they have displayed the targeted behavior. This helps reinforce the connection between the behavior and the reward. Celebrate the achievement and review why they are receiving the sticker.

Identifying Target Behaviors

The foundation of a successful sticker chart system lies in identifying specific behaviors that require modification. It is crucial to focus on a few behaviors at a time to avoid overwhelming the child. Clearly defining and communicating the expected behavior ensures that both the child and the instructor have a shared understanding of the desired outcome.

Establishing Clear Goals

Setting clear and specific goals is essential for the success of a sticker chart system. Instead of using vague terms like “good behavior,” define the desired behavior precisely. For instance, “getting ready for bed without arguments” or “sharing toys with siblings” are specific and measurable goals that can be tracked effectively.

Selecting Meaningful Rewards

The rewards offered for achieving sticker chart goals should be meaningful and motivating to the child. Involving the child in the selection process within predetermined boundaries empowers them and increases their engagement. Choices such as a new puzzle or a new book can serve as effective rewards.

Determining the Number of Stickers

To maintain motivation and provide a clear target, determine the number of stickers the child needs to earn before receiving the reward. This instills a sense of progress and accomplishment as the child works towards the goal.

Achievable Rewards

Setting achievable rewards is crucial to sustain motivation. Rewards that are too distant or require an excessive number of stickers can lead to discouragement and decreased effort. Smaller rewards that can be earned within a short timeframe (a few days to a week) are more effective in maintaining engagement.

Visible Rewards

Displaying the reward in a visible location serves as a constant reminder of the child’s goal. This visual cue reinforces the connection between the desired behavior and the reward, keeping the child motivated and focused. Verbal reminders can also be helpful when the child is away from the reward.

Consistency in Reinforcement

Consistency is paramount in using sticker charts. The child should receive a sticker every time they exhibit the targeted behavior. Inconsistent reinforcement can confuse the child and undermine the effectiveness of the system.

Connecting the Sticker to the Behavior

To strengthen the association between the desired behavior and the reward, give the sticker to the child immediately after they display the targeted behavior. This immediate reinforcement reinforces the connection and encourages the repetition of the positive behavior. Celebrating the achievement and reviewing the reason for receiving the sticker further reinforces the desired behavior.


Sticker charts can be a powerful tool in promoting positive behavior change in children when implemented effectively. By identifying specific behaviors, setting clear goals, selecting meaningful rewards, determining an appropriate number of stickers, ensuring achievability, displaying rewards visibly, maintaining consistency, and connecting the sticker to the behavior, educators and parents can harness the potential of sticker charts to cultivate desired behaviors and create a positive learning environment.


  1. Przeworski, A. (2014). The Dos and Don’ts of the Sticker Chart. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dont-worry-mom/201408/the-dos-and-donts-the-sticker-chart
  2. Amy, T. (2022). How to Use Sticker Charts Effectively. Teaching Exceptional Kinders. https://teachingexceptionalkinders.com/2022/04/how-to-use-sticker-charts.html
  3. Morin, A. (2022). Sticker Charts to Motivate Your Preschooler. Verywell Family. https://www.verywellfamily.com/sticker-charts-motivate-your-preschooler-1094891


What are sticker charts?

Sticker charts are positive behavior reinforcement tools used to encourage desired behaviors in children. They typically involve a visual chart where children earn stickers for exhibiting specific behaviors, and once they collect a certain number of stickers, they receive a reward.

How do I choose the right behaviors to target with a sticker chart?

Select specific and observable behaviors that you want to encourage, such as “sharing toys with siblings” or “completing homework independently.” Focus on a few behaviors at a time to avoid overwhelming the child.

What kind of rewards should I use for a sticker chart?

Choose rewards that are meaningful and motivating to the child. Involve them in the selection process within predetermined boundaries. Rewards can include small toys, stickers, or activities like extra playtime.

How many stickers should a child earn before receiving a reward?

Determine the number of stickers based on the child’s age and the difficulty of the targeted behavior. Start with a smaller number (e.g., 5 stickers) and gradually increase it as the child progresses.

How do I make sure the sticker chart is effective?

Consistency is key. Give the child a sticker every time they exhibit the desired behavior. Make the reward achievable and visible, and connect the sticker to the behavior by giving it immediately after the positive action.

What if my child loses interest in the sticker chart?

Keep the sticker chart fresh by changing the rewards periodically and introducing new target behaviors. You can also try different sticker chart designs or themes to maintain engagement.

Can sticker charts be used for older children?

While sticker charts are commonly used for younger children, they can also be effective for older children, especially those with special needs or those who respond well to visual reinforcement.

How do I transition my child away from using a sticker chart?

As the child consistently exhibits the desired behaviors, gradually reduce the frequency of sticker rewards. Eventually, the child should be intrinsically motivated to engage in the positive behaviors without the need for external rewards.