We further our discussion on “ Part 1 AGE APPROPRIATE DAILY CHORES FOR CHILDREN “
Rewards Sincere praise, along with a genuine pat on the back when your child makes progress on something which is difficult for him is important. Next, add concrete rewards which you know your child likes—it could be video games, watching the television, a toy or an outing. Try making a list of incentives that your child can earn on a daily basis. Whenever possible, determine most rewards ahead of time, be clear with behavioural expectations and do not forget the crucial teaching component. It is important to understand that we cannot expect kids to do something differently if they do not know how to do things in the expected manner. And, hence we need to teach them how to perform a particular skill. Even for children with special needs, child’s behaviour could be linked to the developmental stage he is going through. Keeping this in mind is significant because it helps us to soften our view. In all these efforts, be kind to yourself because you too are still learning. Taking a look at what behaviour you might be reinforcing and how you are reinforcing it may lead to a change in your approach and yield better results. Everybody masters a skill only when he/she is given ample opportunities in non-threatening environment. Learning to perform a chore is like learning any other skill. More the opportunities for practice better would be the child’s mastery. This means the adult who is teaching the skill needs to be patient and consistent.
Like all skills, this too needs to be built on previously learnt skill and taught using principles of behaviour modification, one of them being chaining. Chaining: Any task we learn is a series of multiple small tasks. For example, dressing involves identifying one’s clothes, identifying front/ back and inside/out of the garments, pulling the pants up, zipping them, wearing the shirt, buttoning it etc. Identifying these chains and teaching them as a continuous process helps to master a skill.
This can be taught in 2 ways
1) Forward chaining: Forward chaining is a process of behaviour modification, or this context, teaching a skill that begins with the first element in the chain and progresses to the last element (A to Z). Here, one starts with the first task (A) of the chain of that task to be taught. Once the child can perform that element satisfactorily, an adult has him perform the first and assist him to perform the second elements (A & B) without forgetting to provide reinforcement for the success of the step performed. For example, when teaching a child to peal a cucumber to make a sandwich, praise him if he gets a cucumber from a basket of vegetables and then the adult or the trainer would wash, peel and slice it. That he was able to get a cucumber on your instruction is the first step (step A) for which the child gets a pat on his back. You washing it are step B and so on.
2) Backward chaining:
This is often a very effective way of developing complex sequences of behaviour. In forward chaining, one is teaching A to Z; in backward teaching, one teaches Z to A. Backward chaining is a chaining procedure that begins with the last element in the chain and proceeds to the first element. For example, placing a folded garment in the cupboard would be the last step and folding the last fold of the shirt would be the second last step of teaching the child to fold clothes. While teaching a chore, the chore needs to be broken down into multiple steps depending on child’s level of understanding and/or complexity of the task and practised consistently over a period of time.
Using visuals to facilitate learning: During the process of this repeated practice, there is a risk of the trainer, or an adult getting into a directive and instructional mode and the trainee or the child getting dependent on the prompts or the verbal cues coming from the trainer. If the adult who is teaching a chore to the child, teaches the child to take help of visuals to master a skill, the trainee learns a skill without having to depend on an adult. Use of visuals, for example pictorial description of how to make tea or a snack, reduces the need for having an adult constantly present around the child. Once the child understands the power of pictures, the same can be used to teach different skills or a sequence of multiple tasks in the form of these visuals. Example anything like an elaborate picture to simple hand drawn pictures, to sentences or just the word cues such as ‘bread, cucumber, butter, cheese, and pepper, salt’ to explain how to prepare a cucumber and cheese sandwich. Like spoken language, visuals too are a mode of communication and need to be taught and practiced in different situations for the child to understand the ‘power’ of this communication. A child for whom this visual mode of communication is going to be used to teach a daily chore, needs to have had an exposure to this communication during prior simpler learning opportunities like accessing a box of crayons just by looking at the container that has picture of crayons on it or an ability to place one shoes in a rack which has picture of shoes next to it. These baby steps are essential before the child learns to follow series of multiple visual steps. A few examples of age appropriate daily chores: starting with one chore which fits within child’s interest and ability would be a good start rather than starting with more than one. Monitoring child’s progress and going a step back on certain occasions to avoid frustration and taste success is the key to mastering a chore.
Upto Ages 2-7
- Put in toys put away toys
- Fold towels
- Put his own clothes in the bucket for washing
- Throw dry garbage in the bin
- Lay cutleries on the table next to food plates
- Fetch his own underwear
- Tidy own bed
- Dust and mop floor
- Stack books on book shelf
Upto Ages 8-12
- Hang and fold clothes
- Clean bathroom
- Wash windows
- Dust furniture
- Clean kitchen platform
- Shop for grocery
- Put away the grocery
- Prepare a simple meal
- Take care of younger sibling
- Use stove to make simple meals
- Sweep the house
- Manage laundry list and bills
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