3 Steps to Ending Chore Wars

As the eldest of four children, I had a lot of household chores and responsibilities while growing up. I didn’t like it, of course, but I did what was expected of me. I had read stories about kids growing up in the country having many more chores than I, so I figured my lot wasn’t so bad.

Nigel sees it differently. He balks at the few chores I have him do, complaining about slave labor and communism. “Cleaning rooms is for nerds,” he says. Cajoling, begging, and trying to reason with him (“Everyone has responsibilities,” I say) is usually unsuccessful. So I came up with a plan:

1) Create a chart – a visible reference, like the schedules used in his early intervention classes. It lists what he does when, each day. It has spaces for star stickers or checkmarks to indicate when chores are completed.

2) Offer rewards – positive reinforcement for completing chores. He’s a teen, so it has to be something that will really motivate him. Two things he loves the most: renting movies and having friends spend the night. So when he receives a certain number of star stickers, he can rent a movie or have a sleepover.

3) Withdraw privileges – negative consequences for not completing chores. Two things he would miss: watching movies in his room every day and having computer time. For each day a chore is not completed, he will lose time doing what he enjoys.

This is an experiment – I’ll report back with how it goes! Unlike communism, I think it will work.

7 thoughts on “3 Steps to Ending Chore Wars

  1. Colleen

    Finally, after years of trying to get Evan to do chores (exact words of Nigel from his mouth) all it took was being a freshman and having “fast food Friday” and being able to buy stuff at school. Evan came to me and asked for chores to do for an allowence!

    We have a chart in the kitchen, he checks off each task, and he gets paid on Friday…so far, this has been wonderful…not a complaint from him…And even a “mom, dock me $2, I didn’t get the dishwasher unloaded today”

    (and then I dropped dead)

  2. mama mara

    I look forward to hearing how this works.

    My Rocky has been on strike for a few months because the rewards I offer aren’t worth his time. I asked him how much was enough, and he said, “maybe $10 an hour”. Yeah, right.

    Plus he can always get things from the wusband if I say he can’t have them.


  3. Tanya Savko Post author

    Wow – Evan actually suggested docking his allowance? Amazing! I’ll try to think positively about this.

    Nigel is also on Rocky’s wavelength; I asked him what would motivate him to get his chores done, and he suggested $100 a week. Not even my wusband could afford that!

  4. Jeffrey Deutsch

    Hi Tanya,

    Good luck to you! As I’ve posted myself, I think a system of rewards and punishments can be just the thing to get an autist/Aspie on track.

    Colleen, please give Evan my congratulations. He seems like an honorable young man, and honor is all too rare.

    Jeff Deutsch

  5. Bonnie Sayers (autismfamily)

    great tips and rules. I have not really enforced any chores for Nick. I was thinking of showing him how to do the cat litter box since it is his cat one of these days.

    He throws out trash and on Friday we worked in the yard and he dusts on Sat mornings.

  6. Tanya Savko Post author

    It took me a while to get Nigel to do the cat litter! He stuffs paper towels up his nose before he does it.

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