Signs & Symptoms

Domestic Skills

Is your child keeping a messy room?

Some children do not seem to mature as quickly. They need more support to complete day-to-day tasks. You may find keep announcing, “If I had a dime for every time I told you to clean your room, I’d be a millionaire by now.”

You might have no concerns academically, but you wonder if he or she would ever carry a plate to the sink, get a glass of juice, or put away a toy without your support. It could be that your child’s previously nice room has started looking like a science experiment gone wrong.

Perhaps you are the parent of an 11-year-old, and you are already wondering, “How could my child ever have a roommate?” You may be surprised that your otherwise capable child is unable or unwilling to do the simplest household chores.

What do challenges with Domestic Skills look like?

  • Saying “Make my bed?” “What dishwasher?” “Put my clothes in the hamper…No!”?
  • Melting down in a moment when asked to do a simple household task?
  • Making morning in your home feel like a warzone?
  • Behaving in a way that leads you to feel guilty for having yelled at him all morning because he was so slow getting ready?
  • Failing to take dishes to the sink and dropping dirty clothes on the floor?
  • Struggling to do even one small chore?

Why is Domestic Skills happening?

Domestic tasks are basically household chores. They are those daily tasks that we all need to do such as cleaning, home-repair, and cooking. Domestic skills may include taking a plate to the sink, vacuuming, unloading the dishwasher, putting away toys or making toast. These developing skills are important as we think about independent living skills for adulthood, such as college or entering in the workforce. However, if your child does not do chores, it is entirely possible that he or she is typically developing. Some level of refusing or avoiding household chores is normal. A typical child may not participate in domestic tasks due to lack of motivation, unclear or inconsistent expectations, or simply bad habits that have been reinforced over time. It is important for the family to work on this together, though, as domestic chores are necessary for independence as your child approaches adulthood. Most kids will eventually learn to do chores if parents are persistent in providing direction and guidance while also holding them accountable.

How can I manage Domestic Skills at home?

While doing chores around the house can be beneficial in teaching responsibility and maturity, chores may bring discouragement, disrespect and frustration into your home. It is important not to let chores cause a constant battle.

Learn to assign chores that are appropriate to a child’s age and ability. Getting some children to do chores may feel like fighting a losing battle. Parents may give the chore, yell and scream about it, provide reminders and then end up doing it themselves. As clinicians, we find that some parents sigh with relief when we give permission to let a chore drop.

It is better to not assign the chore at all versus assigning it, making it a constant issue and then eventually doing it yourself. Pick one or two chores, make them straightforward, tie completion of the chores to something fun and meaningful for your child and make sure your child either does the chore or has to skip out on the fun and meaningful reward. Make sure evenings and weekends are a mix of both fun family activities and important household tasks that have to get done.

Some children need more hand-holding than others. Make chore requests succinct and specific, and offer them one at a time. Make a visual chore chart, and provide some choice for your child in selecting chores to complete. Provide a weekly incentive, like family ice cream or a movie night, for each week that a certain number of chores are completed.

With young children, do the chore with them at first. “Let’s collect your Legos” is more manageable than “You have to clean your room.” Instead of multiple verbal reminders, direct your child to the chore board. If he or she is particularly stubborn, add a more immediate incentive like “15 minutes of Minecraft after you put away your clean clothes.”

Try not to take things away, but rather provide incentives and reward for the behavior you want to see. This approach is easier to accomplish if parents have more control over the household. When children are provided unlimited access to electronics and other reinforcers, it is more challenging to find things to use as incentives. In this case, work to gradually take control; don’t try to do it all at once. Use something novel as a reinforcer, like a trip to the science museum or a special playdate.

How can Clear Child Psychology help with Domestic Skills?

If your child is struggling with this symptom to the point that it is getting in the way of his or her learning, relationships, or happiness, it’s time to seek professional help.

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Once we understand your child’s needs, we will help families get connected to the right specialists. No more guesswork, no more wasted time and resources.

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Our Coaching Packages allow us to continually support families as they continue their journeys. Parental coaching, life-skills practice, and school advocacy are just a few examples of ways we help.

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