11 Tips to get your ADHD-diagnosed child to do chores




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So many things to do, so little time – and this couldn’t be truer of the endless chores that need to be done in the home. Kids of all ages can help with household chores, but when it comes to chores with an ADHD-diagnosed child, for many parents it becomes a test of patience and stamina!

Here’s why you shouldn’t give up and the best parent and expert advice to keep your home (and child) running better.

Why chores are good for your kids

Some experts believe that chores are a “great predictor of future success”, and we can see why. Besides the fact that we need help in the house, there are a myriad of benefits for kids to do chores:

  • They learn empathy for family members.
  • They feel capable and needed.
  • They learn independence, how to take care of themselves and what’s needed to run a household.
  • It teaches self-confidence, self-discipline and self-reliance.
  • It builds executive functioning skills.
  • It improves motor skills.
  • It encourages teamwork when they do chores with a sibling or parent.

Tips to get your ADHD-diagnosed child or teen to do chores

Even when your child understands why they need to do it, they also need to be motivated to start, and complete, their chores consistently. Here are some quick tips that parents are using to get their kids going:

  1. Be a good role model. Your children are learning habits from you. If they see you and other family members picking up things and keeping their rooms clean, they will more likely do the same.
  2. Start them off young. See our list below of age-appropriate chores.
  3. Model exactly how you want the task done. And then show them again…and again. This accommodates for memory or organizational challenges that they may have.
  4. Set clear expectations on what you want done, for instance, don’t say “Clean your room,” say “Make up the bed and pack away your clothes”.
  5. Break up bigger chores into little tasks and use visual cues so that your child can keep track of what needs to be done. Use a chore chart that you and your child can use to track completion; here are three options:
    • Place a whiteboard in a highly visible place, listing chores, who’s assigned to do them, and when they should be done.
    • A laminated page or whiteboard that you or your child can dry wipe when a task is done.
    • A weekly chore pad that you can hang on the fridge.
  6. Lower your expectations. Your child will not do things perfectly, so if it’s good enough, it’s good enough. They will get better and faster at doing their chores as time progresses.
  7. Make chores fun and flexible. Do chores with your kids, let your teens enjoy moving with music in their ears, and allow them some flexibility to complete chores on their own time. With time-blindness, your child may not realize how long a chore takes. To get him/her to get started, you could also use a timer and when they hear it go off, they stop.
  8. Make chores part of their daily or weekly routine. Develop your daily schedule around homework and chores.
  9. Give them choices. Whether they are 7 or 15, kids love having the choice of what they can complete and what they would prefer to do. You can also tailor chores to their strengths.
  10. Acknowledge and encourage good behaviour. Give positive feedback and reinforcement when a chore has been done. You can also use a reward or star chart to monitor and reward progress.
  11. Set consequences. If your child doesn’t do his/her chores, they need to know that there are consequences for their actions. Reducing privileges – such as diminished screentime, adding extra chores or reducing time spent with friends – is one way in which parents can set consequences. But this will only work if you are consistent with meting them out if the chores weren’t done.

If your child has difficulty doing chores, or blatantly refuses to do chores, contact your paediatrician or health care professional for support.

A general list of age-appropriate chores for children and teens [adapted from a list by the US-based Child Development Institute]

Age Group Chores
Ages 2 – 4
  • Pack toys away
  • Place dirty clothing in the washing basket
  • Dust or wipe flat surfaces with a cloth or sock on their hand
  • Mop small areas with a dry mop
  • Wipe up spills
Ages 5 – 7
  • All the previous chores
  • Help clear the table
  • Pull weeds
  • Water plants
  • Pack away clean utensils
  • Assist with setting the table
  • Help bring in and packing away groceries
  • Match socks together
  • Make the bed with supervision
Ages 8 – 10
  • Sweep floors
  • Mop the floor with a wet mop
  • Clean their bedrooms with minimal supervision
  • Put away groceries
  • Help make school lunches
  • Wipe counters
Ages 11 – 13
  • Wash the dishes or load the dishwasher without assistance
  • Wash the car
  • Prepare easy meals
  • Take out the dirt bins
Age 14 +
  • Clean out the fridge
  • Deep clean the kitchen
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Clean windows
  • Care for pets
  • Make more complex meals
  • Accomplish small shopping trips alone
  • Sew buttons on clothing
  • Help parents with simple home repairs
  • Help the parent prepare a meal
  • Make themselves a snack or breakfast
  • Fold and put away laundry
  • Vacuum
  • Load and empty the dishwasher
  • Hang up and fold

References

  1. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Chores & children. AACAP [Online]. Accessed on 28 August 2023.
  2. ADDitude. (2021). End the Chore Wars! How to Stop Arguing and Start Motivating Your Child. ADDitude [Online]. Accessed on 25 August 2023.
  3. Child Development Institute. (2022). The ultimate list of age-appropriate chores for children and teens. Child Development Institute [Online]. Accessed on 14 August 2023.
  4. Grushkin, B. (n.d.). Chores For ADHD Kids: Strategies To Get The Work Done. Fuzzy Mama [Online]. Accessed on 25 August 2023.


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These articles are for information purposes only. It cannot replace the diagnosis of a healthcare provider. Pharma Dynamics gives no warranty as to the accuracy of the information contained in such articles and shall not, under any circumstances, be liable for any consequences which may be suffered as a result of a user’s reliance thereon.

The information the reader is about to be referred to may not comply with the South Africa regulatory requirements. Information relevant to the South African environment is available from the Company and in the Professional Information/Patient Information Leaflet/Instructions for Use approved by the Regulatory Authority.

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