Monday, January 7, 2013

The Secret Lives of Toddlers: The Sticker Ritual

Just in case you aren't on the "toddler inside," I thought I'd share some of the little rituals toddlers have in their day-to-day lives that I think are hilarious and cute.  One post at a time, though...

One such ritual is what I call "the sticker ritual."  Here's how it works:

After circle time, or after an activity of some sort, sometimes a caregiver or teacher will get out stickers to give to all the kids.  The caregiver or teacher will stand in the front of the room or sit down on a chair, and all the kids will form a line in front of them.  The teacher will be holding a sheet of stickers.  One by one, in order of the line, the children go up and point to the sticker of their choosing.  Some kids choose right away and have no doubts.  Some kids ponder the options for a while. Some kids choose, then change their mind, then change their mind again.

Once they've be given their sticker, they will often put it on their hands or on their shirt, or in some other special place.  They will then proudly display this sticker for all to see.  Sometimes the kids just hold the sticker in their finger while they play, and inevitably, it falls off.  Caregivers are generally sympathetic to this situation and are happy to replace the fallen sticker.

If your kids are new to the sticker ritual, they will sometimes skip out on it for a period of time.  Some other kids that are new to it will try to cut in the line, and they'll probably be asked to go to the back of it.  Don't worry, this happens to all kids that are new at the sticker ritual. Eventually they'll figure it out.

Over time this will become a favourite activity of most toddlers.  Someday when they are older, they may even be allowed to be the lucky one to distribute the stickers (the most holy of responsibilities).  I've known 5 and 6 year olds who have felt absolutely honoured to have found themselves in this position while visiting a former playgroup.

It's precious to me how much value a toddler can place on something as cheap and simple as a sticker.  Aias always tells me his are beautiful.  If he has the option, he will often get two stickers, one for each arm.  He never puts it on his hand, but always on his sleeve.


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