While I do pay for tough jobs like yard work, I don’t believe in reward systems for getting kids to do the everyday chores that keep a house together and running. I don’t use stickers or candy, or allowance in exchange for housework. Our family is a team and keeping a home together is a team effort. To me reward systems for basic work sends the message that “this isn’t really your job, this work is outside of you.” Looking at a home as a team effort and having chores as an expected part of life in order to contribute to that team, instills a work ethic and helps build self efficacy so very badly needed by our children, autistic and otherwise.
It helps with independence as well.
I once met a college aged girl who was clueless about doing laundry, and messaged me to ask how to fry an egg. She explained that her mother wouldn’t let her anywhere near the stove. I know its easier, faster, and at times more pleasant for parents to do chores themselves, but if independence is our end goal our children should know how to prepare food and be familiar with how clean laundry ends up in their room.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still end up reminding people to do chores frequently, and sometimes things are not up to a level of cleanliness they would be if I just did it myself. However no one complains, and helping is a given around here.
Kids are capable of an amazing amount of responsibility. (it doesn’t amaze me, but certainly often other people)
It is a disservice to assume that they cannot. It can create a learned helplessness a lack of feeling of self efficacy.
SELF EFFICACY one of if not THE most important, more desired outcomes of childhood, far beyond academic attainment or self esteem.
One huge factor in its development is having an adult who believes in and challenges a child.
A very basic way to work on this is assigning chores.
The one kid most devoted to his chores is my son Pete.
He’s the kid with the classic autism diagnosis.
You know what one of his major challenges is?
It’s not his difficulties in communication.
It’s not his “autistic” behaviors.
It’s not his sensory sensitivities.
It’s that people underestimate him.
Sure autism creates impairments, but people’s assumptions impair (disable) his abilities.
This was especially evident in school in terms of lack of challenging material, and an attitude that he was not mentally present.
Not being challenged put him further behind.
I try very hard not to assume that I know his limits.
Sometimes I fail at that.
Yesterday was the day we switch to summer schedule for visitation so the kids spend three days at Dads (Friday-Sunday)
I began to worry that not being able to do his Friday job was going to bring him stress/unhappiness. I thought “well, maybe I should ask him do it early? oh no, he wont understand why, would he mind if I did it instead? should I save the chore?” etc.
Yesterday afternoon I began getting people’s things together and asked Aidan and Bee to pack. I announced to no-one in particular that it was the start of our summer schedule.
Later Pete started his Thursday chore, making snack. He put his cupcakes in the oven, checked it off his chore list, and then asked to do Friday’s chore.
Of course he has heard me and seen the bags.
Of course he knew he wouldn’t be here today.
He solved the problem himself, because he is capable.