Train Sticker Reward Chart (Free Printable)
Subscribe to get a FREE printable sticker chart! This behavior chart offers an alternative reward system for young children to the all too convenient sweet snack or cheap toy promises! Can be used for a variety of things like potty training or good behavior.
Shortly after my first son was born, my mom mentioned that I should try to raise my kids to know that sweets, like candy and desserts, are a treat, a “sometimes” food. I totally agreed with her. I am a person who loves sweets, any kind of sweet, I’m not picky; candy, cookies, chocolate cake, ice cream, brownies…I could go on and on. When paired with my love of baking, it’s a deadly combination. I was hoping that I could help prevent this unhealthy addiction in my kids by teaching them that sweets aren’t necessary on a daily basis.
Well my oldest son will turn three in a few months and to put it bluntly, my dedication to making treats a “sometimes” food seems to have completely vanished. I didn’t just fall off the wagon, I got run over by it and then drug behind it for…awhile. Giving my kids too many sweets wasn’t something that happened overnight, but something that happened gradually. First it was an occasional popsicle, at most one a day. But then my son oldest son, Jack, learned how to open the freezer, so it became a little more frequent. Then over time, Jack’s acquired a bit of a sweet tooth with the most recent desire being candy. Now partly I would like to blame Halloween on this candy addiction, but to be completely transparent, a lot of the blame also deserves to be placed on me.
I used to entice Jack to use the potty by saying that if he used it, I would give him one M & M. (Not my proudest parenting moment, but I’ll let he/she who has never made a parenting mistake throw the first stone or perhaps peanut M & M.) Now to be clear, Jack only uses the potty at night time before bed, so on top of giving him candy, I’m doing it right before he goes to bed. (I do make him brush his teeth afterwards.) At first it was just one M & M, but eventually he wanted two, then three, then four. Then recently, we just brought a container up and even though I would ask him to only take four, he would take one, then two, then three, and then a HANDFUL. Since his brother is sleeping nearby, I don’t want to have an all out brawl with him over a few M & Ms, so I usually will let him get away with most of them.
So that’s why I decided something had to be done. If I let this habit continue, he will end up where I am, in love with all sweets. I decided I had to come up with something equally rewarding to M & Ms. I needed something that would reward him, without adding more clutter to my house or spiking his glucose levels.
I decided to try a printable sticker chart.
I went to both Pinterest and Google to find one and much to my disappointment, I couldn’t find any that Jack, a nearly 3 year boy, would love. I needed him to be proud of his sticker chart and understand the idea that when all the special spots are filled, there is a reward. I needed him think that the sticker chart would be better than M & Ms. This is actually quite a task, asking a two year old to give up his instantly gratifying candy reward for a reward in the seemingly distant future. A simple page with a table of boxes would not be that exciting for my son.
So I decided to make my own sticker chart with Jack in mind. What does Jack love? Trains. So I made a colorful reward chart that has 12 positions for stickers. I thought 12 stickers was enough that it would take a while to fill, but not so many that it’s discouraging to a young child.
I took Jack to the store to pick out stickers because I thought that would make him feel a stronger sense of ownership in this system.
I finished designing the sticker chart today and had it printed on cardstock for $0.80 at Office Depot (we don’t have a color printer). I didn’t get it laminated yet, but I have tried putting stickers on and off and it seems to work well without ripping the page.
When Jack got home from daycare, I let Jack unveil the printed sticker chart by removing it from the Office Depot bag and he got super excited! I explained to him that he would get to put a sticker on the chart every time he did something extremely nice or used the potty. I also explained that there would be no more M & Ms. He totally understood and seemed to think it was acceptable.
When I took him upstairs to go to bed, he wanted to take a rough draft version of the chart upstairs as well as the official one. When I went to tuck him in, I found he had added stickers to all of the indicated positions on the chart without instructions. He was beyond excited to go use the potty because then he got to add a sticker to his official chart.
So perhaps the last thing to mention is the reward I’m going to give him when his chart is full. I am planning to give him a few options, like going to dinner at IKEA (something we already do every couple of weeks), inviting a friend over for a playdate or giving him a single piece of candy.
Please tell me I’m not the only parent struggling with candy rewards! I hope this free printable helps make your life a little easier, so you can spend more time with your kids.