Let’s Talk Sticker Charts with Dr. Krista Kunz of Magnolia Pediatric Dentistry in Mt. Pleasant, SC

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 Charleston 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 forming skills to other areas of their adult life if they’ve been taught 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. When used properly, sticker charts can be a good way to encourage twice daily dental care. You can download February’s sticker chart here.

Brushing your teeth twice a day is something that many adults struggle with, and Dr. Kunz 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 who says that the sticker chart needs to be connected with a targeted behavior, like teeth brushing. But limit the 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 Magnolia Pediatric Dentistry is also helpful. Having the reward or 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 visit the Dollar Tree at Wando Crossing for some inexpensive stickers.

We also have a coloring sheet download for your family to enjoy this month! It’s a way to teach and follow along with the weekly challenges we’ll be sharing for Pediatric Dental Health Month. Download one, or both, and tag us if you post a photo of yourselves using the sticker chart or coloring page. You can find us on facebook at facebook.com/MagPedDentistry or instagram at instagram.com/magnoliapediatricdentistry.

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