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Courtney’s Corner: Age Appropriate Chores for Children

As summer approaches, parents may feel like their time is stretched to the limit between work, having the children home from school and going to and from daily summer activities.
With everything going on, it is easy to give your child access to an iPad or the TV as a source of entertainment while you complete daily chores. While screen time can be fun and sometimes even beneficial, allowing children too much time in front of a screen can be detrimental to their development. In particular, children with NF1 should be encouraged to be both physically and mentally active in order to work on skills commonly delayed in children with NF1.
To decrease the amount of screen time needed and encourage the development of important skills, such as self-help and attention skills, consider getting your child involved in the household chores. The New York Times recently ran an article on age-appropriate chores for children ages 2 and up. Their list of chores is a great starting point for helping your children learn about self-sufficiency and taking part in family responsibility.
On top of the benefit of life-skill development, having your child help with chores will also free up some of your time. Use that extra time as family time. Set aside some hours every week to do something together. Maybe your family enjoys going on bike rides on Saturday morning or perhaps you want to have family game night on Fridays. Spending time together as a family will help your child develop social skills as well as work on any skills associated with your chosen activity.
Having trouble getting your child started on chores? Consider using one of the reward charts recommended by Washington University NF Center Occupational Therapist Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L. A reward chart will help your child visualize your expectations and give them a sense of accountability.
Courtney Dunn, PT, DPT