Having Your ADHD Child Do Their Chores
Getting your children to clean their rooms, take out the trash or help you with cleaning the dishes can be a chore with in itself. And if your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, you know that the parenting challenges can be even greater. ADHD kids often have trouble following directions and are easily distracted. This doesn’t mean that you should give up though. When you child has ADHD, it just means that you need to adjust your parenting skills somewhat.
The key is to be clear and specific about what it is you want your child to do and to provide incentives for cooperation. Here are some strategies to try:
• Break Down Each Chore into Components: “Clean your room” can be too vague. It would be better to say: “Please pick up your dirty clothes from the floor and put them in the bin. Hang your clean clothes up in the closet. Pick up all of your toys and put them on the shelf where they belong.” You can also try breaking their chores into blocks of time as well. Have them clean up what is on their bed for about 20 minutes, and then take a break after. Then you can have them come back and do 20 minutes on the desk, and so on.
• Set a deadline: Specify times by which each of the chores needs to be done by. “ADHD kids can’t keep their rooms clean all day,” Arthur L. Robin, PhD, chief of psychology at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, says. “It’s enough to get it that way by, say, dinnertime or before they go to bed.”
• Make a chore chart: This works best for younger children, says Robin. This chart should include the chore, what exactly it involves, and when it is to be done. Award stickers or points each time your child completes a chore. For teens, try using a behavioral contract rather than a chart. Like the chore chart, be specific. The both of you should agree on what specific behaviors are acceptable and should be included. Both of you should then sign the agreement.
• Provide Positive Incentives: You can take the points or stickers that your child accumulates on the chore chart and trade them for activities, privileges, or outings, Robin says. For younger children, they should be allowed to cash them in two to three times a week. For children 7 to 10 years old, once a week is good. It is much better to offer positive incentives for jobs well done than punishments for incompletions.