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Stickers and other rewards


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Hi,

Just wanted to start a little thread to discuss if and when you use stickers or other rewards. I posted a while ago about rewarding tidying-up and did some research on whether or not to reward good behaviour. During my teacher-training as well as a parents the emphasis has very much been on rewarding good behaviour - stickers, sticker charts, special treats and (most) children love them, however, I do want the children to learn the expected behaviour (i.e. not just for getting a sticker.)

I haven't used stickers all year, the only reward I give is that the best helper gets to take the class teddy home. I do feel that stickers or little rewards have a motivating factor and I'm a bit torn which was to go? I give lots of 'thank yous for ....' and other verbal praise.

It is quite hard to find research/articles on behaviour as a lot of the articles focus on rewarding work or activities not behaviour and most state that rewarding work reduces children's intrinsic motivation and feeling of self-control.

What are your feelings? Am I taking it too seriously (which won't be the first time for me!!!)? Is using stickers/rewards sparingly and not as a bribe helpful or will the children only ever want to tidy up if there's a reward in it for them?

Thanks,

Green Hippo x

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Well I'm pre-school, I haven't given out stickers for many years. I did have a member of staff a couple of years ago who wanted to do it she had been a Recptn. Teacher and felt that children couldn't have too many stickers and it seemed successful for her - however, as I have said generally we haven't given them out for a very long time and I don't know if ours are too young but the sticker rarely stayed on their sweatshirt or whatever long enough to make it home, our children just seemed to pull them off anyway. We also found that some of the children couldn't even remember why they were given a sticker if they did manage to keep them on!

 

Anyway nowadays if we are praising/rewarding we tell children why, we have a lovely star on a stick which we wave above heads etc. and we thank children for helping at tidy up time because when we all work together it makes it easier and we need to appreciate that.

 

Any stickers we do use go into their learning journey folders to decorate pages.

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We have a pot for each colour group. If a member of staff sees a child helping, achieving they get a reward for the it. The rewards are a random selection of items in a big box. At the end of the week the rewards are counted to find the winning group ?

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Interesting topic, Green hippo.

 

I have always found stickers/ reward charts very difficult to use successfully both in the classroom and at home. ( I probably never did so at home anyway). Some children are very easy to reward and I did not like feeling I was rewarding them for behaviour that came naturally to them even if it was the desired behaviour of the group. I felt it set them up as superior to the rest and I was worried that their peers might resent them with the perpetual reward and awareness. It was also difficult not to reward them when they were obviously displaying the required behaviour.

For other children, the reward of a sticker was almost impossible as try as hard as they might they could not achieve what was really required...thinking children with EBD behavioural traits here and to reward them and not others would have been difficult. The reward of a sticker did not really reinforce any behavioural expectations for these children either.

 

Little children focus on the moment, Im being good now so I need a sticker rather than I need to do that sooner/ quicker to get my sticker.

 

Stickers can have a place, I liked to give them to children who had tried hard and that was easier to maintain for me and them as I was not setting them up against their peers, nor did I need to have a race to get the stickers on. When I was following school policy and using stickers willy nilly it was obvious that the behaviours changed when I reached for the stickers rather than children wanting to behave well. Much more successful was the verbal reward " superstar" !

 

I tried whole class rewards, one very challenging class actually told me that as they had behaved well enough to earn their reward they didn't need to continue! (Reception!!!)

 

Another whole school behaviour policy to use a traffic light system with the idea that children moved from green to amber to red with sanctions on red was also difficult to maintain, some children just liked the attention of seeing their names move and really weren't bothered if they went from green to red!

 

I hope all that makes sense, but I suppose the real answer is you have to do what feels right for you and be consistent. I didn't like stickers and didn't feel I was consistent nor did I like whole class rewards but some people do and can make these things work. I also think the children/ cohort go a long way to making these things easy/ easier to apply and maintain.

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We've used stickers in the past for 'good tidying up', 'good helping your friends', etc (more around behaviour than work), and have stopped. When we still had one member of staff giving out stickers despite our setting having a 'no stickers' policy, I found 1 child in tears in the bathroom:

Me: "Alice, why are you crying?"

Alice: "Because I haven't got a sticker!"

Me: "Oh dear, nor have I! Who has got a sticker?"

Alice: "Cheshire Cat's got a sticker."

Me: "Oh, I see... Why did Cheshire Cat get a sticker?"

Cheshire Cat: "The Red Queen gave it to me." (Cheshire Cat seems confused that there would a reason for getting the sticker, and 'The Red Queen' calls across to say she'd helped put the pencils away.)

Me: "Cheshire Cat helped put the pencils away. Why didn't you get a sticker?" (Alice usually helped tidy up, so I was really confused by this as well as annoyed with The Red Queen for creating this situation when all staff had agreed not to use stickers.)

Alice: "Because I was naughty!"

Alice's key person points out that Alice had been in the toilet doing a poo, which was a very good thing as she struggled with doing poos in the toilet, and she has lots of praise and is happier.

Me: gently points out to The Red Queen that this situation would have been avoided if she given Cheshire Cat verbal praise for helping put the pencils away as we had all agreed, and then searches the preschool to take away any stickers I can find.

 

There are some stickers around now that have come in with magazines, etc and the children use them to decorate work, each other's clothes, as tattoos... When our dental visitor comes in, she leaves stickers for the children, and we give them out at home time, saying to the child and collecting adult "Dormouse, the Dental Visitor came today to talk about keeping our teeth healthy and left stickers for the children," so there should be no confusion about why they have stickers.

 

 

I have to say, as a parent, I have used sticker charts as a visual cue about agreed actions: Younger son wet the bed for a long time, and when he was 8 or 9, the enuresis nurse said he needed to have enough to drink over the day but not too late so son and I agreed a reward and had a chart he had to tick off each time he had a drink at the agreed times, and he got the reward at the end of the week if he'd had at least 6 out of the 7 drinks everyday. There are 7 years between my 2 children, so elder son was not interested in a similar reward, but if they'd been closer in age, that would have been an issue.

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Lyanne - I loved your post! :1b

 

All of mine have a star for the star chart before leaving - that's all - never any exceptions - two reasons - we all leave on a cheerful note and perhaps more importantly it gives another opportunity for children to recognise their own name :1b

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Never used them...( except for a purpose... toilet training being the usual one, targeting one child that benefited form this and consistency with home. )

 

Was put off by my sons experience in reception...

He never got a sticker because he was always 'good' and their policy appeared to be to only give to the 'difficult children' when they did as asked.. He wanted a sticker after all why was he not getting one for sitting still when his friend was...

 

So he worked it out.. he began to misbehave, and suddenly became difficult in class... Teacher spoke to me and asked the usual .. changes at home etc.. nothing there so I asked him why? He clearly understood and said he wanted a sticker like his friend.. and if he was naughty first before being good he would get one ..

 

A bright spark my son.. he was 4 at the time

 

I could have ensured all got them but felt that sort of defeated the object.

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We use them at times, if requested by the child. We use loads of praise and high fives for the majority of the time.

Many years ago I made the mistake of saying to a little boy, if you tidy up I will give you a sticker, said boy looked me up and down and said "I don't want your bloody sticker!" Live and learn!

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It seems to me that non verbal rewards may be more useful for some settings than others. We use them, they work for us in the way we use them.. They are individual and pitched for the children who are awarded them. They are not offered as a 'bribe' to do something ...they are always awarded for a 'prize' for achieving above expectations. My children enjoy getting an additional boost and are always proud to tell their parents why they have been awarded them. We also use lots of other praise and reward methods

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Thanks for all your great replies - it makes very interesting reading!

I have done all the above over the years.

When I have used stickers or other rewards systems, such as, traffic lights, I have too found them hard to be consistent with. And even as a parent trying to keep up with a reward system was also difficult. However, I do think they have a place with dealing with specific behaviour/developmental issues e.g. toileting for individual children (on the quiet!).

One of the articles that I have read, recommended making any 'praise' into personal positive comments, using 'I' phrases and commenting on how you feel or other people feel e.g. "I like your sharing." Or, to turn the praise back on how the child feels e.g. "You did it! You must be very proud of yourself."

I don't think that stickers are going to make much of a reappearance in my classroom anytime soon, apart from for individual cases or situations, or for decoration purposes!

Thanks again for your replies,

Green hippo x

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