How to Teach Better Behavior Through Chores
Jason never seemed like other children. He was restless and lacked focus. However, his parents didn’t think much of it and assumed it was a passing phase. However, things continued to worsen. He was getting in trouble at school frequently. In class, he would fidget, call out or annoy other children, talk incessantly, while disrupting the class. Getting him to do his homework was a nightmare as he could barely concentrate long enough to answer even simple questions.
Everything in isolation appears ordinary, but when a child displays all of these behaviors at some point in time, you realize that something is not quite right. At the age of 11, Jason was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
ADHD is the most common behavioral disorder encountered among young children. If left unattended, this could cause other negative health conditions such as insomnia, Dyslexia, and other psychological illnesses. However, the good news is that ADHD can be treated using medication and therapy or sometimes a combination of both.
Children with ADHD require constant support to assist them in performing routine life tasks. This need for support may continue into adulthood too. They develop dependencies to the point that they cannot function without aid from other persons. To avoid such circumstances, experts and therapists recommend Cognitive Behavior or Behavior therapy. One form of such treatment involves a home component where parents undertake behavior modification through activities like daily chores and other fun assignments. These activities ensure that the child slowly becomes independent. Behavior therapy also has a beneficial influence on other behavioral facets such as hyperactivity, mood swings, and sleeplessness.
For parents who want to pursue behavioral training at home to supplement therapy received outside, we put together a list of easy and engaging everyday chores they can get started with. These fun tasks can keep your child occupied and get him/her thinking.
1. Bust their boredom.
Most children with ADHD indulge in hyperactivity because that’s what keeps them excited. So the first task is to ‘keep them occupied.’ Give simple tasks like loading the washing machine, composing a poem or reading a story. Keep a timer and make the chores a game they can play.
Making tasks interesting can develop a natural urge for them to learn new things while keeping them engaged.
2. Have a chore chart.
Give your child a list of chores they need to finish within the allotted time. Get them involved in the process by laying out options and making them choose their favorite. For example, give them options between making their bed or packing their lunch, and ask them to pick one. Choosing the chore would allow them the satisfaction of knowing it was their choice and not a direction from you. Make a task list for the week and hang it in a prominent place so that they do not forget to refer to it.
Having a chore chart will help them learn how to be organized. They will also gain sufficient practice in choosing and doing the right tasks independently.
3. Use Reminders
Be careful that you never lose track of the task. Don’t encourage forgetfulness or procrastination in the early days; keep pushing until the task becomes established as part of their daily routine and isn’t a choice anymore. Distinguish their daily routines such as brushing their teeth, making the bed, taking a bath, etc., from those you assign occasionally. Pair the assigned chores with daily tasks that they do not forget. For instance, ask them to fold their clothes while their favorite show is on break or tell them they can go to the party after they arrange their toys.
Using reminders helps them establish a systematic daily routine in their life.
4. Do not forget to reward your child
Children need encouragement to finish a chore. They like it best if it comes in the form of their favorite treat. When you see that they fulfill the task with perfection, reward them. Prepare their favorite snack or take them to their favorite restaurant or a movie. Even a simple gesture like giving them more TV time can be a good reward.
Appreciation of their work encourages them to do the job without flaws.
5. Do not let the task become boring
Remember that you are assigning chores to a kid. If you keep on assigning the same tasks for a long time, they will gradually lose interest in the whole activity. Keep changing the task or find other interesting ways to do the task. For example, make them compete with you or their siblings, on who can sort all the toys first or make it a game to do their homework with their ‘study buddy.’ Also, while working on their homework, remove any objects that can distract them. Play pleasant background music that helps them focus.
These kinds of activities encourage sociability and also helps continue to drive their interest in the task.
6. Stressless chores
Do not pressure them in any form. Remember that these chores are to make them better but not to cause them anxiety. Keep a deadline, but never use harsh punishments if they fail to finish any tasks. When things become too complicated, it is natural for anxiety to build. If the task assigned is slightly challenging, ensure you are cheering them on with proper words of encouragement to help them finish it. If they fail to complete the task, be delicate and cut down only their privileges. This creates a stress-free working environment for the kids.
It is important to create an awareness that failure is just a step, and there will be more opportunities to better themselves.
7. Usage of Apps
With advanced technology, ADHD can now be also be treated with the aid of software applications. Apps like RescueTime and Focus@will are uniquely designed to increase the attention span and focus skills of an ADHD person. Such improvements enhance a person’s potential by increasing their productivity. Other technical aids like Evernote, Mint, and Google Voice, can also aid ADHD children in scheduling their tasks and activating reminders for tasks. However, parents need to be careful that their child doesn’t become excessively dependent upon such apps.
Apps can get children accustomed to technology and how it can be harnessed to reap improvements in their quality of life.
8. Spend time with your kids.
This is an important aspect of behavioral therapy. Talk to your children. Explain how one should be and teach them good behavior. Do not tell them that they are wrong, instead tell them that they could have done it in a better way. Ask them how their day has been. Tell them what’s happening in your life. Make it mandatory to talk to them on a daily basis.
Giving them your time conveys your love and how special they are to you. Once they realize this, they start reciprocating in a similar way. This makes them amiable as they grow up.
9. Enroll them in an activity or sports club.
Sports and other activities are the best approaches to distract your child from becoming hyperactive. Children with ADHD tend to become excited easily. Diverting this excitement could help them shine in any stream of their choice. Michael Phelps, one of the greatest Olympians of all time, once suffered from ADHD. However, his mother diverted this energy of his into swimming. Today, he is the most talented and skilled Olympian, in swimming, of all time.
Carefully designed activities can enhance your child’s abilities and help them master things that are of interest to them.
All the tips we have listed are easy and doable, and are great at helping ADHD children and those who care for them, manage this disorder better. We would also love for you to share your experiences with ADHD. If there are any novel and interesting ideas that succeeded in eliciting good behavior in children with ADHD, please do share them with us.
Disclaimer: Effectiveness of ADHD treatment depends on how well the child receives these techniques. It is also important to understand that every child responds differently. The methods we have shared in this blog are based on real-life experiences of parents with ADHD children.