Sticker Charts // Springfield, IL Pediatric Dentistry

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Helping children form healthy habits is an important part of parenthood. Taking good care of your oral health is an important part of living a healthy life! As a dentist AND a parent, I want to see happy and healthy smiles in Springfield, IL and, well, everywhere! Establishing good habits in children at an early age makes it more likely that they’ll continue those habits throughout their childhood and into adulthood. It’s also more likely that they’ll apply those habit skills to other areas of their adult life if they’ve been taught how to form them in their formative years.

The best way for your kids to learn healthy habits is for their parents to model healthy habits. Make sure that you’re teaching them by example, and practicing what you preach. Another way to encourage twice daily tooth brushing is to use a sticker chart. But of course, like all parenting ideas and suggestions, sticker charts are sometimes criticized. Today we’ll talk about those criticisms, and explore the pros and cons. Our conclusion is that too much of anything can be a bad thing, including sticker charts, and that when used properly can be a good way to encourage twice daily dental care.  

Let’s start with the criticisms. Some child psychologists and parents argue that good habits should be followed and obeyed simply because they are a good habit in and of itself; that children should follow these routines not because there’s a reward at the end, but because it’s the right thing to do. To that we say, have they ever tried to get a toddler to do something? Brushing your teeth twice a day is something that many adults struggle with, and Dr. Govindaiah thinks that giving your child a sticker twice a day, and a small reward at the dentist’s office each month, is an appropriate way to form a habit that will improve their overall health for a lifetime. Of course once children reach a certain age, they should be brushing on their own with the reward being a mouth that feels clean, but sometimes in order to establish that habit a small incentive is helpful.

We agree with child psychologist Dr. Amy Przeworski, however, who says that the sticker chart needs to be connected with a targeted behavior, like teeth brushing. You should also limit the amount of behaviors you’re trying to modify, or habits you’re trying to form, to two or three depending on the child’s age. Dr. Przeworski also says that stickers should never be used as a form of punishment, only reward. Stickers should never be taken away, only given to positively reinforce good behavior.

The fact that the sticker chart is from Springfield Pediatric Dentistry is also helpful. Having the reward/incentive from a third party can reduce the likelihood that your children will adopt a, ‘what’s in it for me,’ mentality for other household tasks like cleaning their room, or finishing their dinner. Also, we love stickers! You can always stop by our office for a sheet or two, or you can visit the Dollar Tree on MacArthur Boulevard Springfield, IL for some inexpensive stickers.

We also have a coloring sheet download for your family to enjoy this month! Download and tag us if you post a photo of yourselves using the sticker chart. You can find us on facebook at

Sirisha Jupudy