GIVING stickers as a reward is a common way for parents, and teachers, to get kids to help out around the house or do their homework.
But an expert has claimed parents should ditch them entirely, as they can be teaching children damaging behaviour.
Psychologist Erica Reischer warned they can end up working ‘too well’, and see children not want to do anything unless they get a reward, Kidspot reported.
Erica said: “Sticker charts are powerful psychological tools, and they can go beyond affecting children’s motivation to influence their mindset and even affect their relationship with parents.”
While she doesn’t deny they work, particularly in the short term, she said using them ends up “creating significant negative and unintended long-term consequences for both the kids and their families”.
Children become so used to being rewarded, they expect praise and encouragement for everything they do – and start to adopt a mindset of ‘what’s in it for me’.
Erica said children become “hesitant to give anything away for free”, even when exhibiting positive behaviors such as “helping, cooperating, and sharing”.
If you’re ripping up your sticker chart in horror, here are some alternative techniques you can use to instil good practices in your children.
Kelly Bartlett, author Encouraging Words For Kids, encouraged parents to turn whatever task their children struggling and turn it into a game.
She also advised offering a choice – within the task – to give them a greater degree of autonomy and participation.
How to approach tricky tasks without reward stickers
- Make the task fun
- Offer a choice
- Validate their feelings
- Communication is key
For example if your little one doesn’t want to brush their teeth, you could ask them to choose what toothpaste or toothbrush they want to use.
Kelly added validating children’s feeling is also important, and offer them words of encouragement such as ‘I know you can do this’.
Lastly it’s important to communicate, if they’re struggling with a task ask them why, what in particular is troubling them, and what can you do to make it easier.
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