While children may not relish the idea of doing household chores, they can be more important than you may realise. When a child is given certain responsibilities, such as tidying their bedroom or setting the table for mealtimes they will learn a variety of lessons, from the importance of keeping things tidy and organised, to the satisfaction of carrying out and completing a task. Many parents also choose to reward children for completing household chores by giving them a weekly allowance; this can be a great way for children to learn from a young age about the value of money and how hard work reaps rewards.
When it comes to a child with a disability however, many parents may worry that chores can be too complex for the child to carry out. This may well be the case as a physical or mental disability can obviously impact on a child’s ability to complete certain tasks. However, disabled children can face a lifetime of exclusion from ‘normal’ activities due to the nature of their disability. It is vital to highlight to them from a young age, not their limitations, but the things they can do.
While it may seem more time consuming than actually just doing the chores themselves, parents can simplify certain tasks in order to make them easier for a disabled child. In much the same way that an able-bodied child will gain satisfaction and a sense of achievement from successfully cleaning up after a meal and being praised for doing a great job, so will a disabled child from putting their toys away or helping you to prepare dinner.
Basic life skills are a necessity for all children, able-bodied or otherwise. Actions like brushing teeth, running a bath at the right temperature and washing themselves properly can seem like mammoth tasks for disabled children. When teaching your child these basic skills, approach the subjects positively, offering praise and encouragement. Independence is one the greatest rewards for a disabled child.
Make a List of Tasks
Sticker charts and visual aids for the list of chores to be done are a great way to help your child master household tasks as well as introducing them to new ones. For every new task, create a new sticker, and make a separate chart to place the stickers once the chores have been completed. This will allow them to keep track of the tasks they’ve completed, as well as the tasks they’ve still got to do. Soon enough, they will be able to undertake the chores with ease, while also realising the benefits of learning new skills.
Don’t let success go unnoticed, and make sure you reward your child for the effort they put into daily work. These rewards can be daily or weekly, like a trip to the park or going to watch the latest film at the cinema. Don’t hand them out too easily however, or you may find that tasks are being completed just for the reward, instead of your child learning anything at all.
Add One Task at a Time
Don’t overload your child with tasks to do, as they will lose interest altogether. Instead, only introduce a task once they’ve mastered the previous one you set. Clearing plates and loading the dishwasher may look like a simple job, but for a child with Asperger’s it can prove to be a very frustrating process.
Slowly Remove the Structures
Practice makes perfect for your child, and there will be a number of verbal and visual structures you have in place to help them achieve their task. Eventually however, your child will have to learn to do things on their own, and this will mean removing these structures in order to further your child’s life education. Slowly reduce the help you provide, so your child will have to think for themselves instead of having to rely on you for assistance.
This guest post was written by Francesca, a health blogger from the UK who writes for Quest 88. If you need to buy crutches, she recommends visiting their website.