As Dr. Phil says, “How’s that working for you?” For children with reactive attachment disorder, chores can be the hill they choose to die on. It is a hard concept for them to come to grips with for several reasons. They don’t feel like they are part of the family so they don’t feel like they need to contribute. Rewards don’t work because they only respond to immediate gratification. Their need for control means that they rarely like being told what to do. So what is the key to getting your RAD to do chores?
When August was young I probably used every reward chart invented to try and get some cooperation and help. Magnets with pictures, charts with bright colors, ones he could draw on himself to be proud of. Nothing worked. Waiting a week for a reward was an eternity for him. And he decided that the work wasn’t worth the reward or the wait. Now I did get the boys to clear their dishes from the table and put them in the dishwasher (no idea how!) And when they were older I did get them to figure out that if they wanted their clothes washed they needed to get them to the laundry room. But those were my two chore miracles!
When he got older I tried to have some conversations with him about the responsibility of being a member of the household and the family and what goes along with that. That was pretty much a non-starter. He got an allowance that came with some chores. But it seemed like there was always a battle to get them done. And he was the king of the path of least resistance.
Now of course, some of this comes with every child. Rebellious teenagers are common no matter what the situation. But with our RAD kiddos it gets harder when they don’t feel connected to the family or accountable to a parent they haven’t bonded with. Talking back or refusing is nothing when they feel no regret or remorse. If they don’t care to make the family happy or the home better, getting your RAD to do chores may seem like an impossible task.
A lot of living with a RAD kiddo is answering the, “what’s in it for me” question. Because that’s the only thing they want to know. And while making chores transactional isn’t what we want to do, it may be the way to get things done until things get better. I found it makes for an easier conversation and less stress for all concerned.
Here is a list of three apps which help with this process. I have used Chore Monster with the boys and they loved it. Whenever either of them wanted money, I could load up some jobs I needed done in the app and they could go to work!
I would love to hear your ideas and success stories of how you’ve gotten chores done with your RAD kiddos. Let us all know what you have found that works!
Until next time,