Expert claims that using sticker reward charts with your kids can ‘harm social skills’

Children who are rewarded for good behaviour using a sticker reward chart could grow up with anti-social problems, claims one expert.

Psychologist Erica Reischer has warned the millions of parents who use sticker charts to encourage their children’s behaviour that it could well be causing more damage.

Erica claims that there’s no question that these sticker charts work, but argues that if anything they are too effective.

She wrote in an article for American website The Atlantic: ‘Sticker charts are powerful psychological tools, and they can go beyond affecting children’s motivation to influence their mindset and even affect their relationship with parents.’

‘Not surprisingly, I frequently hear complaints from parents about sticker charts gone awry.’

She them goes on to explain an anecdote where one mother who was initially pleased with the results of her sticker-chart system said that when she asked her 8-year-old son to stop what he was doing and help his younger brother clean up a spill, he responded: ‘What will you give me?’

Priming kids to expect rewards for good behaviour can harm their social skills long term.

Erica added: ‘In some cases, children are offered rewards not only for mundane tasks like tooth-brushing, but also for what social scientists call pro-social behaviour: things like helping, cooperating, and sharing.’

A sticker chart works as a type of behaviours modification system, where kids receive stickers in exchange for desired behaviours, like brushing their teeth.

The end result is that usually the stickers can be ‘spent’ on prizes or treats.

However Erica argues that this is what’s damaging: ‘Studies have shown that offering children tangible rewards in exchange for caring behaviour may diminish future helpful behaviour and can erode children’s innate tendency to help others.’

And, over the years it’s proven very popular among parents, with Google searches for terms like ‘sticker chart’ ‘chore chart’ and ‘reward chart’ collectively returning more than 1 million results.

What do you think? Do you use the reward chart with your kids? Let us know in the comments box below.