How Chores Can Improve ADHD Behavior
Chores aren’t just a necessary evil, but an opportunity for your child with ADHD to learn about responsibility, develop skills for independence, and practice self-discipline. Here, how to assign chores and set deadlines.
Chores are a necessary part of family living. Everyone — son, daughter, mom, and dad — should be assigned daily and weekly chores.
I know it’s easier to complete the tasks yourself, but you’ll be doing your child a disservice if he isn’t assigned jobs around the house. Chores teach responsibility and self-discipline, develop skills for independent living, counteract ADHD behavior problems, and make the child with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) a contributing member of the family.
Household tasks help the child with ADHD feel like an important member of the family. Because he may experience more disappointments, failures, and frustrations than the average child, it is imperative that he knows he is needed at home. Choose chores that you know he can complete successfully. This will build self-esteem.
The Right Chores
When assigning chores, consider the age of the child, his interests, and his ability to perform a task. Then teach your child the task in small steps. Let’s say you want your seven-year-old to take responsibility for setting the dinner table. Together, count out the number of plates needed and show him their proper locations. Now count out the number of forks, knives, and spoons needed. Put the utensils in the correct places, followed by the napkins and glassware. Before you know it, your child can set a table.
Clarify the task to be completed, step by step. Pictures showing the steps can be posted on a refrigerator or wall as a visual reference until the chore becomes routine. (Older kids may need only verbal instructions.)
Knowing the basics doesn’t mean he is ready to take full responsibility for the job. Your child will probably need reminders and some supervision before he is able to complete the task on his own. Offer encouragement and praise for his efforts, even if they don’t measure up to your expectations.
Set a Deadline
Establishing a time frame — “Bill, I want the table set by 5:30” — will motivate him to finish the task. With children who can’t tell time, set a timer and let them know that, when the buzzer goes off, they should pick up their toys or feed the dog.
“Chores actually are a great help to David,” says Kate, David’s mom. “It’s a way for him to help us. Even though he complains at times, he likes vacuuming, preparing snacks, and helping sort laundry. Taking the time to teach him the job has paid off big for us. His vacuuming is passable and his laundry sense is great.”
“We try to show Ryan that a family works together,” explains his mother, Terri. “For example, if Ryan does his chores, we will have extra time to play or be with him. If not, we’ll spend that time doing his chores.”
Another mom says, “In our home, chores are done on a paid-for basis. Each chore is worth so much. My husband and I felt our son should learn that you have to work for what you want.”