I don’t know anyone who likes to do chores around the house. I’m sure those individuals exist, I just don’t know them. Somebody has to get those chores done though. Of course, you can pay people to do them for you. The funny thing is that even when you do that, there are always those left over, everyday chores that still need to be done. The quickest way to get through them is to get the kids to help, it will be less painful for you in the long run. Not only will this be helping you but doing chores teaches all kids some very important life skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives. Whether the kids get paid or not is a personal decision. What if you have a child with special needs? Is there a way to learn how to teach your child with special needs to do household chores? Absolutely! I know it is harder but with a few, well thought out strategies, all kids can be as good as it gets when it comes to getting their chores done.
Everything starts with a decision; so make the decision that your kids will help around the house. Tap into why this is important for you. Your reasons will propel you for miles on the road ahead, especially when you hit a few bumps along the way.
2. Start early
Start as early as you can so your kids grow up with the idea that they help. They may not be able to do much, but the little that they do will register. With some kids, parents get the positive reinforcement when their child shows them that they are proud of their contribution and that encourages the parent to keep giving them little chores. With children that have special needs, this may not happen. In fact they may outwardly appear to be completely disengaged. Just have faith that their participation is registering. You are making a deposit into the “bank” account and will make withdrawals one day.
Once you have figured out what you want your kids to help with. Pause, and think about all the steps that your mind goes through at the speed of light to get the chore accomplished? How do you even know that you need to do the chore? What environmental cues do you pick up? Start by pointing those out to your child over and over again. Help them NOTICE that something needs to be taken care of. Just point it out every opportunity you get and then get on with it, with no expectation of anything from your child.
Next, figure out what tools you needs to get the chore done and point that out to them. Talk about what you are doing as you are doing it. How are you checking to make sure that you are doing a good job? You are constantly checking even when everything is now so automatic you don’t notice it.
4. Make it fun
Find some way to make the chore fun. This could be by using fun tools, making up a song to go with the chore, create competition, or anything else that you think your child would enjoy. One thing that I did was to switch from the somewhat cumbersome vacuum cleaner we had used for years to a stick vacuum. It’s light, cordless and even has a basic digital display that shows how many minutes of power you have remaining. That was definitely a good move as the kids started vacuuming more often. Switching from a broom to a “swiffer” also made sweeping more fun. Be creative and have fun too while you are at it.
5. Forget about timetables
One final word. Remember that teaching your child to do chores will take as long as it takes. Your only responsibility is to be consistent. We all learn at our own pace, in our own way. Your child will take the time they need with chores. Whatever you do, please do not get hung up on an imaginary time table.
Although it’s much easier and faster to do all house hold chores yourself, taking time to teach your child with special needs is more than worthwhile. Not only will you get help with the chores, eventually, you will be teaching your child life skills they will use for the rest of their lives. With a lot of patience and a few strategies, you can teach your child how to do household chores.