Family life

Do your kids make their own bed?

Amy writes about teaching chores at home by breaking a task down into steps and using praise.

By Amy Baskin
Do your kids make their own bed?

Photo by oddharmoic via Flickr.

It’s 7:45 a.m. on a weekday. “Ok, Tal. It’s time to make your bed,” I say cheerfully.

Her duvet and sheets are scrunched at the bottom of the bed. Various stuffies (dog, moose, pink poodle and a frog pillow) are scattered on the floor.

“I can’t do this. I HATE making my bed,” Talia says.

Wow — I’ve really never heard her say that she hates anything. Usually she’s pretty laid back when I ask her to do a task. And then I realize two truths:

  • It's awfully normal for a teen to complain about making her bed.
  • The task is hard for her. I need to break it down into steps.

“Let’s do it together, Tal,” I say. After we dump the stuffies and duvet on the floor, I demonstrate how to lift the upper sheet back up to the top and how to tuck it in. Together we lift the duvet and spread it over the bed. With a little reminder, Talia places the stuffies and pillow on top.

“Your bed looks amazing now, Tal,” I say. “Great job!”

Talia beams and races out of the room.

Often I tend to forget to give Talia praise when she's learning a task. Last night I heard Penny Gill, author of Coach in the Kitchen, talk about strategies for teaching cooking skills to individuals with autism. She stressed the importance of positive feedback and praise as a teaching tool. This is equally important for teens and adults. So true.

In an earlier post, I set a New Year’s goal to help Talia learn one additional home skill. She’s doing a great job clearing the dishwasher and setting the table. Now it’s bed-making, sheet changing and beyond! If only it wasn’t so finicky and challenging to fit the bottom fitted sheet on the mattress. It’s an exercise in frustration for our girl.

Do your kids make their own bed and help change their sheets? Any teaching tips?

Photo by oddharmonic via Flickr.
This article was originally published on Apr 24, 2012

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