If you get a boo-boo while visiting my house, you’ll have your pick of adhesive bandages to cover your wound: Disney princesses, Doc McStuffins, Thomas the Train, Paw Patrol. You name it; I’ve got it because placing a band-aid (even a plain old beige colored one) on my kids’ real or imaginary injuries somehow makes it all better. It’s the same with stickers. My son will wear a sticker on the top of his hand all day, proudly showing it off to whomever is within reach.
Why do stickers give kids so much joy, and why do band-aids give them peace of mind?
Validation. Kids may not be able to control or express their emotions as well as adults, but they still feel all “the feels.” When we give them a sticker for a job well done or a band-aid for a boo-boo, we’re telling them that we see them, we hear them, and we’re responding to their needs. It’s a non-verbal “I’m proud of you,” “Good job,” or “I love you.”
Attention. Kids are smart and observant. Through their own experience or from watching other kids, they know that adults often use the presence of stickers and bandages as a conversation starter with little kids. “Oh, no! What happened to your arm?” “Wow! Cool sticker!” Even if kids play coy and don’t engage with the grown-ups, they’re still bursting with pride inside for being noticed.
Independence. Kids are on a constant quest to find out who they are. From toddlerhood to, well, adulthood, they’re figuring themselves out. Seeing your pricey wood dining table decorated with My Little Pony stickers may be a nightmare for you, but it was a particular style choice for your child. It’s a way for them to leave their stamp (they love those, too) on their homes, their strollers, and the other people, places and things that are important to them. They’re saying something about who they are (“I like My Little Ponies”) and what they do (“I eat here”). Selecting their favorite character on a band-aid gives them the same sense of control in a scary moment. “I am hurt, and I want the PJ Masks, not Frozen, to help me feel better.”
When it comes to stickers and bandages, just go with it. They keep kids happy and take little investment from you — just keep an eye on your dining room table.