A typical week for an elementary through high school student likely includes tasks such as completing homework, studying for upcoming tests, attending multiple club meetings and sports practices, hanging out with friends, and meeting with teachers. In the hustle and bustle of the everyday routine, one important thing often gets lost: chores. Many parents may feel as though their child has no time for chores amidst their busy schedule, or that it is easier to just do everything themselves. Decades of studies have shown, however, that children who regularly engage in activities to help keep the household running smoothly have a greater sense of self-regulation, reliance, responsibility, and mastery. They also have a greater awareness of the importance of caring for others in relationships. Referring to your child as a helper when he walks the dog or empties the dishwasher, for example, helps him to realize the importance of helping others and doing his part for the benefit of the group.
For children with ADHD, chores can be especially beneficial. They can serve as recognition of the child’s value that she adds to the household and make her feel as though she makes a positive contribution when often she experiences more frustrations and failures as compared to the average child. Keep in mind that it is important to model the steps that children need to take in order to complete the chore successfully and provide some guided practice before they are expected to do it independently, especially for younger children. If the child is doing laundry, for instance, this might mean showing him how to separate darks and lights, measure out the correct amount of soap, load the washer without overstuffing, put it on the correct settings, and set a timer as a reminder for when the clothes will be ready to switch to the dryer. Providing some sort of written or visual cues illustrating the steps is also helpful until the chore becomes routine. Establishing a timeframe is another useful strategy to employ when assigning chores. Instead of asking your child to set the table, you could ask her to set the table by 6:00 pm in order to provide greater motivation to complete the task.
So, have your children roll up their sleeves and start washing the dishes, feeding the dog, doing the laundry, setting the table, dusting the furniture, making the beds, and taking out the trash. They may not thank you now, but they will be much better off in the future having learned the value of chores.
If you’re looking for some extra motivation to help get a child to buy into the idea of chores, take a look at these engaging apps:
- You Rule Chores ($3.99)
- An app where the child chooses an avatar and completes approved chores for digital coins that can be redeemed for rewards
- ChoreMonster ($4.99/month)
- Gives points and rewards for completed chores, a long with passes to a Monster Carnival where kids play to win fun digital prizes
- Epic Win, iReward Chart, Chore Pad
- Digital replacements for chore charts with stickers or stars