She Says… Sticker Mania

I wondered when Sticker Mania would set in around here.

You see, a few months ago, when people would ask Owen if he wanted a sticker (doctors, the cashiers at Trader Joe’s, older kids trying to be nice to a little “baby”), he would shake his head and back away slowly like they were trying to hand him an explosive. He didn’t like they way they stuck to his skin and he would put his hands out defensively and shout, “No! No! No!”. I really have no idea where the paranoia came from, but secretly I was kind of happy to be putting off the inevitable kid moment of finding stickers stuck all over my lovely dining room table legs or his playroom window. Ugh, cleaning sticker adhesive has got to be one of the most annoying and frustrating tasks.

As for me? I LOVE stickers. My sisters and I used to collect stickers in laminated books like the ones old men collect stamps in. We would save and trade and steal and lust after stickers. Our binders and notebooks were covered in Lisa Frank unicorns and ponies and stars. I went through a stage of serious scrapbooking in college and made good use of lots of teeny tiny themed stickers. I made my own stationary with them and decorated store-bought cards. I still do sometimes. It’s funny, though, the main thing I remember doing with stickers was SAVING them. And gazing at them. And talking about them. But never sticking them on things. They were too precious, apparently.

Maybe it’s my nature of being a saver instead of a spender. I’m a “save it for later”, delayed gratification type of girl. And maybe that’s why I don’t know exactly how to handle Toddler Sticker Mania now that it’s here.

At some point in the last few weeks, Owen’s view of stickers changed. When we were at the doctor last Friday, he got so excited at the prospect of getting a sticker with a choo choo on it that the doctor and I could barely talk over his “It ‘ticker time yet, Mommy? ‘Ticker wif CHOO CHOO! ‘Ticker puh-lease!” chatter. Once I found him a sticker with a choo choo, though, he immediately wanted another one, with a car on it. Since he had gotten a shot and was being truly a little angel at the doctor, I gave him a car one too. Then after we got his blood taken, the tech offered him another. He immediately wanted them stuck all over his body and grabbed them by the handful out of the sticker bowl before I told him he could take one and had to leave the others for other kids. He covered his forearms and hands and even put one over the bandaid where the blood was taken. In the car he asked for “More ‘tickers, Mommy? I LOVE ‘TICKERS!”.

When we got home I knew just which birthday gift I would pull out for him to distract him play with while I made dinner. It was a book about fire engines that came with a page of stickers at the front. He immediately wanted me to peel every one off for him. He laid them, one by one, on our carpet in a row. He didn’t seem to care in the slightest that they wouldn’t be sticky anymore after that (or he didn’t understand the concept). He ripped a few and was SO SAD when I put them in the trash can. The others he gingerly lifted from the carpet and laid on the table. Then he tried to stick them back in the book where they came from. Though they were wrinkled and totally not sticky anymore, he closed the book so gently and laid it on the table so they wouldn’t fall out. Every day since then he has run over, taken every one out and talked about them, and then put them back for safekeeping.

Apparently he got the memo that saving stickers is the cool thing to do after all.

But here’s the thing. I still don’t want stickers stuck all over my furniture. So other than these totally not sticky fire engines, I’ve been keeping stickers out of reach and rationing them. But then part of me feels like I’m sucking all of the joy out of stickers. THEY ARE FOR STICKING. Duh. Why the lockdown?

What do you do with stickers? Are you a saver or an immediate sticker? Which is your kid? Have you had any sticker disasters? Do you give your kids free reign with stickers?


17 responses to “She Says… Sticker Mania

  1. I’ve been pushing the coolness of stamps. They give them out after storytime at the library and they are much neater than stickers 🙂

  2. @Kara, Definitely. Stamps are cool and he loves getting them after music class. But I’m not giving him an inkpad! I’d much prefer to give him a sticker book and let him have at it.

  3. maybe set up a special “sticker wall” with some vinyl or laminated paper where he can stick them, so that he’s not tempted to stick them elsewhere, then he can look at them all the time.

  4. We also had sticker books growing up! Blaine is still in the “stickers make me cry” stage. LOL!

  5. I stick the sticker on the kiddo if they want one, that way if looses the biggest part of the sticky-ness and isn’t too hard to get off of something if they do peel and re-stick it. My girls (almost 5 & 7) have started sticker books, mostly because the oldest broke her arm this summer and has a LOT of nice, big stickers from x-ray techs!

  6. Nora is sticker crazy too! After my mother-in-law bought her a slew of stickers that ended up EVERYWHERE I bought a Melissa and Doug reusasble sticker book. They are awesome! This is the book we purchased:
    We actually found it at our local hardware store. We’ve had it a couple of weeks now and that darn book has provided a ton of entertainment. The best part? I have found some of the “stickers” in unusual places and I could care less since they don’t actually “stick” to anything other than the book (and a couple of other harmless things). It has been the perfect solution in our household!!!

  7. My 2 cents is you can either do exactly what you’re doing, by rationing them and making sure he doesn’t stick them anywhere but where he’s supposed to, or you could set up a place that’s the ONLY PLACE for stickers to go. That’s what we did with our daughter and markers – she’s obsessed with them and in our rent house, when we were moving out and cleaning, we discovered that she had drawn all over hidden parts of her furniture and windowsill. So in her room in our house now, we hung up a couple dry erase markerboards and told her THIS IS IT 🙂 She loves it, almost a year later, and it’s solved the problem of her wanting to draw on inappropriate things and in inappropriate places!! And I think he’d really enjoy a little stickerbook to “collect” them in!

  8. Such a funny topic. My sis and I too collected, saved and traded stickers growing up. In fact I STILL have my sticker books. The scratch and sniff were our favs!

    My bean is in love with stickers. I ration them as well. Or if I need to occupy her or if she’s been really good we get out a sheet of them and make pretties all over construction paper. That is about as creative as I get for art projects in our house =)

  9. My kids love stickers too. We went through the obsession phase around 2 (looks like Owen’s right on track!) and I gave them some Disney sticker books (Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse – from Costco) and just let them have at it. We tried and loved other sticker books too, but the Disney ones are great because the stickers are semi-reusable (you can peel them off and move them around in the book) and there are SO many.

    Apart from books, we have gone through millions of other stickers because kids seem to get them everywhere. During the obsession phase, I used to hang a big piece of poster board (or several) and tell them they could stick the stickers only there. But aside from the general location, they had control over which stickers went where and how many they used.

    We managed to keep it more or less under control (and by that I mean I still had to peel them off clothes, shoes, car seats, my purse, my pregnant belly, the TV remote, etc. once in a while), and they grew out of that obsessive period. But they still enjoy stickers at ages 5 and 3.

  10. Stickers, stickers everywhere. E loves them. My grandmother and friends now save those stickers they get in the mail that come from various charities or advertisements and send them to her in notes and cards. We always keep some along with coloring or sticker books in a bag that goes into restaurants and the car with us for needed entertainment. Other than making sure we check clothes for stickers before they go in the wash, I haven’t had any problem with them sticking to anything permanently or causing harm or damage. Maybe I’ve just been lucky so far!

    I’ll have to check out the Melissa and Doug reusable sticker books! The “reusable” ones she got were only reusable if you stuck them in the book that they came with and at 3, she doesn’t always get that.

  11. Invest in some GooGone. It’s the best at easily removing adhesive 🙂

  12. I don’t feel it’s necessary to limit any activity they enjoy simply because you don’t want the hassle of cleaning up a little adhesive from your furniture. Granted, it’s a little bit of a pain, but those stickers have the least tacky glue I’ve seen. I mean, they don’t even stick twice. So why “ration” the kid’s fun? Seems a little harsh to me…maybe a little neurotic, too. I don’t let my little one smear permanent marker all over the walls, but that’s a different animal altogether. I think you should just let Owen be a kid. Do you really want him being one of those children who have been conditioned so much NOT to do anything fun or dirty that he’s always sitting on the sidelines instead of climbing and exploring?

  13. HAHAHA I think it’s so funny you were such a hoarder as well! And I am so bummed about losing that sticker book, I had SO many awesome ones now. I first had that same pang of “restrict the stickers!”, but like with finger paints, or water tables, or rolling around in the grass, I checked myself for where the feeling came from and realized it was MY hangup, and not very realistic or fun.

    So i let Amber go craaazy with the stickers, although she prefers to stick them on paper or on a painting she’s made. We also love making cards for Daddy or for Grandma, first using crayons and then adding stickers. She always stickers over where I wrote the message 😉 It’s so freeing to let them just go at it, just like watching them colour outside the lines. It’s thoroughly freeing to my OCD inner child.

  14. @Emily, I love this idea!

    @evsmarie, Oooh, I haven’t seen the Melissa & Doug reusable sticker books yet. That sounds brilliant. I love all things Melissa & Doug, though, so that is definitely going on the Amazon wish list! Thanks.

    @Sarah, Giving her ONE PLACE to do that is an awesome idea. I’m definitely going to do something like this at our house, for markers too!

    @Beth, It’s time I learned about reusable stickers! Sounds like a great idea. Great advice (and good to know it is possible to keep this obsession going without ruining furniture).

    @Wanda, I’m totally with you. I’m all for the getting good and dirty playtimes, and so is Owen! Trust me, he is about as far from the “kid who is conditioned not to get dirty” as he can possibly be. I am confident that keeping some of his stickers in an out-of-reach place is not going to negatively impact his development 🙂

    @Ruby, Great outlook! We should definitely start making cards and using up some of these awesome stickers. I love the description of freeing your own OCD — I can relate. Haha.

  15. When I give W stickers I also give him a plastic sleeve – the kind you put A4 pieces of paper in before putting in a ring binder, do they have a proper name that I’m just too dumb to know? – and he can stick and restick on the plastic to his heart’s content.

  16. @Wanda I’m a little confused. Since when is giving a child some boundaries considered “neurotic” or “harsh”? Have you ever read any of Kate’s other posts? Because Owen gets to have PLENTY of fun. And I consider giving a toddler some gentle, realistic boundaries part of good parenting. But then, that’s just me.

  17. I’m a “slow release” kind of mama. I give the girl a few stickers at a time and make her work on peeling them off by herself. She loves stickers and does not care what they are. She loves the Chiquita banana sticker or the Made in China sticker just as much as the safari animal and letter stickers. I have given her a little notebook with her favorite cartoon/book characters on it (Max & Ruby – it cost $1 at Target and came with its own stickers). And I have taught her that this is where the stickers go. Every time I find a stray sticker on a table or her bed, I peel it off and prompt her to put it in her Max & Ruby sticker book. For clarification, singleton stickers are to be enjoyed at the time of receipt while packs of stickers that I buy or that come in a book are for slow release. Target has these great little fun packs in the $1 bins up front that have stickers, a tiny coloring book, and a couple of crayons in a zip lock bag. I keep one in the diaper bag at all times!

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