At a glance
Chores can be a great way to involve sensitive kids in daily family activities.
It’s important to give your kids chores that you know they feel comfortable with.
Doing chores can improve your child’s self-esteem and build a sense of responsibility.
Kids who are more sensitive to sights, smells, and sounds can sometimes overreact to things like loud noise, harsh smells, and strange or new textures. Chores are an important way to involve kids in family life. But tasks that trigger your child’s sensory concerns can be difficult to manage.
If your child is extra sensitive to noise or has other sensory triggers, doing something that’s indoors and around items they’re familiar with can be helpful. Here are just a few options that may be a perfect fit.
Making the Bed
Since most kids feel coziest in their own rooms and around their personal things, making the bed every day can be an easy daily to-do. Kids can also tidy up stuffed animals, prop up pillows, and fold a favorite blanket. Stacking books on the nightstand is a good way to tidy up in the bedroom, too.
Writing To-Do Lists
Even with sensory struggles, your child still wants to take on responsibility and feel like a helpful member of the household. Try giving your child the task of writing to-do lists for things your family needs to get done. This can mean preparing the weekly grocery list or jotting out a schedule for the weekend. You might also ask your child to write down appointments and events on the family calendar if you keep one.
Doing the Dishes
Depending on their age, loading and unloading the dishwasher can be a great chore. If your child doesn’t mind the clanking noise of utensils and glasses, setting the table can also be a good task. Some kids like the satisfaction that comes with clearing the table and throwing away food scraps after a meal. This is especially good for kids who aren’t as sensitive to smells.
Helping With Laundry
First, ask yourself if your child is OK with the smell of detergent and the texture of dryer sheets or wet clothes. If the answer is yes, there are a number of laundry-related chores kids can do. They can help gather the dirty clothes and bring them to the laundry room. Depending on age, a child can even run the load starting with measuring detergent, pouring it in, and starting the cycle. After the clothes have dried, your child can help fold and put clothes away. Some kids really enjoy the hunt for matching socks.
Unless your child struggles with organization issues, tidying up the house is a great chore. If the items don’t trigger sensory concerns, there are many ways your child can help. Putting away toys, organizing a junk drawer, or hanging up coats in a closet are wonderful ways to involve your sensitive child in everyday tasks. Another option: gathering up all the paper that’s going into recycling and sorting it. If your child is sensitive to the smell of cardboard or the creak of the trash can opening, however, you can sub in a different chore.
Remember, it’s OK if your child doesn’t seem to be able to handle certain chores. If you choose tasks carefully, your child can still see the benefits of managing regular responsibilities.
Your sensitive child can participate in many helpful family tasks and chores.
It’s best to pick chores that don’t trigger your child’s sensitivities.
Doing chores often can improve your child’s organizational skills.
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About the author
About the author
Erica Patino is an online writer and editor who specializes in health and wellness content.
Molly Algermissen, PhD is an associate professor of medical psychology at Columbia University Medical Center and clinical director of PROMISE.