She Says… Sticker Chart to the Rescue

It’s no secret that Owen has some issues with using gentle hands (even when it comes from a place of love… remember his issues with over-hugging here and here?). Mostly with his friends at school, but Benjamin, Schnitzel and I are not immune to it at home either. Nothing out of the ordinary for a two year old, but I knew even when he was in the womb that he was going to be a very active kid. A very physical kid. A motor-driven, kinesthetic learner. He is also sweet and gentle and hilarious and silly and insanely smart and emotionally intelligent… it’s part of the whole package, so I’ll take it. Sometimes I think he just forgets that kicking and smacking and pushing are NOT OK.

The past few weeks have been riddled with stories from daycare that Owen had to be reminded to use gentle hands with his friends (and one teacher). On Wednesday we even had to sign an official “incident report” because Owen hit a friend across the face with a toy he had just grabbed from him and it really hurt him. Oy. I’ve discussed each situation with the teachers and they don’t think it’s anything out of the ordinary, Owen is just a rough kid who doesn’t realize his own strength and who is still working on communicating emotions with words rather than actions. He is beginning to understand the cause-and-effect of hitting a friend = tears = teacher comforting the other friend = it was his fault and he should make sure the friend is ok. Sort of. It’s beginning to sink in.

The past few weeks have also been riddled with illness and ear infections and schedule changes and holidays and too much family and not enough sleep… and I know from experience that these outbursts usually happen when Owen’s own body is in pain. So I get where it’s coming from. Sort of. I’m trying to get where it’s coming from.

The last few days I’ve tried a “reminder” system. We “remind” Owen at drop-off in the morning that we really want to hear a good report from his teacher that he used gentle hands all day, with everyone. It has had spotty results. (Read: relatively ineffective, despite the enthusiastic nodding we get from Owen in the morning).

So today we’re instituting something new. A sticker chart.

If I had enough free time I would create you a cutesy printable, but I’m at work today scrambling to catch up from the holidays, so I did a quick Google and found some pretty cute, free, downloadable ones at I printed the smiley one and the dinosaur one and I’m going to let Owen choose which one he’d like to be his “Gentle Hands Chart”.

Let’s see if this does the trick. He seemed pretty excited about the idea this morning, so we’ll see if a sticker is incentive enough to keep him from manhandling/accosting his classmates and teachers.

Have sticker charts worked for you/your kid(s) in the past? What else works as incentive? Any tips for instituting this?


7 responses to “She Says… Sticker Chart to the Rescue

  1. Our school actually does very similar. The kids get a sticker at the end of the day if they have had a good day with no hitting, pushing etc. Our little guy too is a bit rough & hasn’t gotten many stickers. We are trying to teach him the cause & effect but it has not worked yet. I really like the idea of the chart & displaying it. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I’ve been thinking about implementing one for Cameron for his EARLY WAKEUPS! We had a short period of time that he was sleeping in to 6:15-6:30, but he’s been back to 5:30-45 again. I have been meaning to ask you also whether Owen’s potty training continued on to full potty when you posted about it?

  3. @lrm1102, Ooh, good to know this is in line with what your school does. And good to know my kid is not the only bruiser 🙂

    @Angie, That’s a great idea! Owen has reverted to waking up earlier (though not quite as early as Cameron) these days and a different sort of incentive evolved. He always asks to look at pictures on my iPhone while I change his diaper and I really resisted it becoming a “thing” that happened EVERY MORNING. So I started rewarding him for staying quiet in his bed until the right time by saying that I would bring my phone in. It works 75% of the time, so we’re both happy!

    As for potty training, no, our first weekend try was awesome, but as soon as he went to school he refused to go on the potty at school and it crashed and burned. I was secretly kind of happy, though, because I wasn’t quite ready to start all of that yet and I’m happy we’re postponing for a bit. I think this spring will be our new goal — before the new baby comes and right about when I bet most of the boys in his class will be doing it (most are a few months older than Owen). I think we might both be ready then!

  4. Omg, you have to let me know if this works. We’ve been signing too many of those incident reports lately.

  5. My daughter went through the same thing at daycare too. And because when she is at home with me (and obviously no other kids around) I didn’t know she was a ‘pusher’. Basically, we kept reminding her that being gentle was more effective because than the other kids would be happy and that Mommy and Daddy would also be happy too. We are lucky she has stopped for now and It does start again (most likely) we will definitely implement the sticker system.

  6. We used stickers to document “Dry Lydia Days” while potty training. We started with an attainable goal–five days–and increased it gradually. She loved it, and it was effective!

  7. We did a sticker chart to get my 3.5 year old to sleep through the night! Worked like a charm. My 5.5 year old that lies on the other hand, not so much 😦

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