Did You Know Chores Could Do More for Your Child Than Just Help Keep the House Tidy?
Giving your child with special needs some chores to do around the house can be beneficial not only for you as a parent (saving you time), but also for your child.
In fact, according to the Autism Awareness Centre, “It’s important to practice chores to work towards greater independence. Some chores can also be worked into a sensory diet. Having a child do household chores makes them feel they are contributing members of the family.”
Your occupational therapist may even recommend some chores that will help to develop fine and gross motor skills in your child. If you need some additional tips in this area, feel free to ask during your child’s next occupational therapy session. Here are several benefits that doing chores can provide your child.
1. It helps the whole family
If your child has siblings, all of your children will benefit from chores being shared. Everyone can see that each person contributes to making the household run smoothly by doing chores that are appropriate to their age and skill level.
Also, no one will feel jealous if every child has their own chores that they are responsible for doing. Most children, including special needs children, want to help mom and dad around the house, so assigning them chores can give them a sense of responsibility and accomplishment.
2. It can help them develop a concept for money
Paying your child for doing chores is a way to help them to understand money.
A good method is to pay them immediately for doing chores and then set a time each week when you take them to the toy store to purchase something for themselves. This helps establish the relationship between work, payment, and purchasing.
3. It can help them build empathy and bond with the furry members of the family
Much of the current research has found that owning a pet can be a tremendous help for a child with special needs.
Chores related to feeding, watering, bathing, and caring for a pet can help teach your child empathy and strengthen their relationship with the pet. This in turn improves the child’s skills working with and establishing bonds with other people.
Be sure to give lots of praise to help reinforce this. “Look at how happy Fido is because you fed him!”
4. It can help with the development of fine and gross motor skills
Many chores require the use of the arms and legs (gross motor skills), or careful manipulation using fingers and hand-eye coordination (fine motor skills). These are skills your child may already be working on in occupational therapy sessions.
Hanging a shirt on a hanger, sorting the silverware properly, and other chores can help to develop these skills, and in many cases, even help create neural connections that can help with your child’s development as he or she grows.
5. It can teach them some valuable skills that they can take through life
You might be amazed (or incredibly disheartened) to know how many students begin college without the basic life skills that can be developed from doing chores.
Doing a load of laundry, picking up and putting away possessions, washing dishes, and other simple household tasks are basic activities of daily living that your child will need for the rest of their life. Never assume that a child with special needs can’t learn these important tasks; they might just surprise you with their eagerness to learn and help out around the house!
6. It can help them understand the importance of routine
Having an established routine can help a child on the autism spectrum a tremendous amount.
Doing chores on a set schedule – often down to the exact minute – will help them to focus better and prevent them from experiencing anxiety. Many parents of children on the autism spectrum report that having a set routine helps to avoid “the big meltdown.”
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These are just a few ways that chores can benefit your child. In addition to these tips, there are many other ways that your children can improve their physical, cognitive, emotional, and social skills – whether it’s helping out at the house, adding another method into their physical therapy program, or joining an organization that focuses on harnessing those skills.
If you want to add physical or occupational therapy to your child’s routine to help with their development as well, give Endeavors PTS a call and schedule an appointment with an occupational therapist today.