The first thing you need to know about sticker charts is this:
If you enroll in a Parenting class or read a book on Parenting and it includes directions for establishing a sticker chart or other systems of rewards and bribes, you are in the wrong place. You are reading the wrong book.
The attempt to manipulate children with gold stars, dinosaur stickers, ice cream cones or any other form of payment for desired behavior is just plain disrespectful.
Our goal is to establish a mutually cooperative relationship with our child in which offering a gold star or an ice cream cone for "good" behavior would be out of tune with the harmony and the mutual respect on which the relationship is grounded.
We want our children to do the right thing because they feel the right way not to gain some extrinsic reward in the service of another person's control over them.
To appreciate the whole picture on rewards and bribes, I recommend Alfie Kohn's book, PUNISHED BY REWARDS* and his article, FIVE REASONS TO STOP SAYING, "Good Job!"
The P.E.T book examines this Traditional control strategy and gives us a clear picture of the damage we do when, sincerely wanting to be good parents, we innocently believe rewards to be a useful and harmless alternative to punishment.
Setting up a sticker chart tells our child we lack faith in his ability to control his behavior unless there's a reward to be gained. Because we believe he is inadequate to control his own behavior, he adopts the same belief about himself. Both self-discipline and self-esteem are lost in the process.
Sometimes a sticker chart will "work" to get results with a very young child. Parents report this success to be short-lived with the stickers losing their charm eventually. Other parents find stickers to be useless from the beginning. There's a simple reason for this. The sticker chart represents our agenda, not our child's. When we contrive, in any way, to advance our agenda over our child's, we stimulate Counterwill and our efforts meet resistance.
Besides the negative effects bribes and rewards have on a child, the entire sticker chart enterprise requires time consuming monitoring and enforcement, usually accompanied by frustration. So, please, let's forget about sticker charts once and for all and start enjoying our children instead of making useless unnecessary work for ourselves.
* PUNISHED BY REWARDS by Alfie Kohn
1993 Houghton Mifflin Publishers New Your, NY