Household Chores For Kids and Teens With Disabilities

Like a lot of kids his age, 11-year-old Mason Anderson, who lives in Ontario, does household chores like dishwashing for a weekly allowance. Right now, he’s dedicated to saving up for a Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe game for his Nintendo Switch. “We found that when we were going out to stores, he wanted us to buy him toys,” says Carlene Anderson, Mason’s mom. “[We felt] he needed to know that you need to work to get money to buy the things you want.”

It’s a lesson many kids learn by getting an allowance. But for Mason, who has cerebral palsy, getting paid for doing chores has a number of benefits besides allowing him to buy video games.

Should children do household chores?

Research suggests that helping out around the house can have real benefits for kids and teens. According to the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, doing chores early in elementary school is associated with self-competence, positive social behaviour, and self-efficacy. The journal also lists positive outcomes such as learning time-management skills, developing organizational skills, accepting responsibility in the family, learning to function independently, learning to balance work and play, and more.

While doing chores has positive effects on nondisabled kids, it may benefit the development of children with disabilities even more. 

The advantages of chores for children with disabilities

If you were to ask Yvonne Spicer, an early-childhood educator based in Ontario who has experience working with children and teens with developmental disabilities, she’d agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly. Spicer describes herself as having learning difficulties that include ADD, ADHD, being on the autism spectrum, and several other neurodiverse qualities. She also has experience working with children with disabilities. 

“When children with disabilities do household chores, it gives them a sense of independence,” explains Spicer. “It gives them the opportunity to learn a skill that they can take with them no matter what independence looks like for them as adults, whether they eventually live in a group-home setting or on their own. Chores can give kids the skills to take care of their own needs no matter where they go.”

Chores can also give children with disabilities a chance to actively contribute to the family when they may not often have the chance to help out. 

There can be physical advantages, too. Mason’s mom has found that when he helps out with household chores, it also helps him therapeutically. Doing the dishes has sensory benefits for him as well as strengthening and balance-training qualities that often mirror the physiotherapy he’s already doing.

“Doing the dishes is an excellent option because our counter is at the perfect height for Mason to lean against to give his ankles a good stretch,” she says. “And he loves playing in the hot water, so he’s good at it. Mason is an excellent dishwasher.”

Boy with disability helps do gardening chores

4 tips for introducing chores to children with disabilities

Sometimes, special consideration should be taken when adding chores to the daily or weekly routine of children with disabilities. Here are some ways to help get you started:

1. Take your time

Some parents of children with disabilities may forgo assigning household chores altogether because they’re unsure of their child’s capacity to take them on. But Spicer says avoidance is not the answer and that parents need to exercise patience instead.

“Take your time, and don’t push chores on your child,” advises Spicer. “Try to introduce them one at a time because children with learning difficulties sometimes struggle with change.”

2. Break down the steps

To help kids adjust to what may be a change in their daily routine, Spicer suggests creating a visual schedule that features words or picture communication symbols. These are used to lay out the exact order of a child’s day, including the steps of the chores they’re supposed to do and the time of day they should be completed. This way, your child knows exactly what is expected of them.

Remember that it will take some time for a kid to get used to the routine of a chore. “The child may not get everything right all at once,” says Spicer. “Take the time to help them so they begin to understand and actually get the routine under their belt.” 

3. Be consistent and heap on the praise 

Know that if you change up the routine for whatever reason, chances are your child could regress in their progress and react negatively. “Be sure that the child has the original task you showed them down pat before introducing a change—even a small one,” says Spicer.

But have faith that if you have to switch things up, all you’ll need is a little more guidance and patience to help your child adapt to the new routine in time.

If there are slip-ups or days when things aren’t going as smoothly as you’d like, try to stay positive for both your sake and that of your child. 

“Nagging kids or teens with disabilities to do their chores isn’t going to work,” Spicer says. “More than likely, they’ll shut down and have behavioural problems like a temper tantrum.”

Instead of focusing on the negative, Spicer recommends praising your child for what they are doing. Acknowledge that they’re trying, even if they’re getting frustrated or have only managed to partially complete the chore.

4. Find out what motivates them

In a lot of ways, convincing kids with disabilities to do chores is the same as getting any kid to help out around the house—disability or not. 

Carlene Anderson says it comes down to one simple maxim: “Find out what motivates them and what they want to work towards.” 

For example, she says, “help them understand that they can do a job to get money. A lot of times, we just give and give, so they don’t have that concept that they can work. Just because they have a physical disability doesn’t mean they can’t do something.” 

Read more: Tips for teaching autistic kids money skills.

Tip: Download a copy of our visual chore chart!

3 chore suggestions for kids with physical disabilities 

Here’s a list of chores that could be suitable for kids with physical disabilities. Of course, not all disabilities are equal, so the following should only be used as guidance. You know your kid best.

1. Doing the dishes

Doing the dishes can be a great chore for those who have physical disabilities but are ambulatory. Counters provide something for them to lean against so they have both hands free to do the actual washing.

If bending down to the dishwasher or holding plates while standing is difficult, kids can do the dishes with assistance or while seated. This also makes it a great option for children or teens with manual wheelchairs, whether they have an adapted kitchen with a roll-under sink or work at a kitchen table with a bucket of soapy water and a sponge.

2. Taking out the recycling or garbage

Mason doesn’t just do chores at home; he also helps out at school. His job is to collect the recycling from his classroom by putting a mini blue bin on his lap while he pushes his wheelchair to a larger receptacle. Kids who use manual or electric chairs or mobility scooters can place the bin on their lap, platforms or foot plates or secure it to their chair with ties or bungee cords.

3. Assisting extended family outside the home

Before Mason started doing the dishes at home, he helped pick up trash at his grandfather’s business. His mom would support him from behind by supporting his hands and letting him lean against her while he walked around picking up garbage with a stick. Even if your child or teen is too young to work an official job, they can always help out in the homes or businesses of their extended family. This kind of chore can help kids get used to the idea of working outside the home.

3 chore suggestions for kids with developmental disabilities 

What about children with developmental disabilities? There are different considerations when assigning chores to them versus children with physical disabilities, like how to break down the task and make it part of their routine. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Making the bed

This is a household chore that can be broken down into simple steps, which keeps the task from becoming too overwhelming. Spicer says parents and caregivers can help a child make the bed with a hand-over-hand technique. This means gently placing your hands over your child’s hands while completing the chore together a few times until they get the hang of it.

2. Folding laundry

This task is made up of simple steps that rarely change, which makes it easier to digest as a routine. For extra points, teach your child where the folded laundry goes and have them put it away as well.

3. Creating grocery lists

Put your child in charge of monitoring the family’s stock of favourite snacks and cereals. Ask them to check around the house for specific items. They can add anything that needs replacing to a grocery list kept in an accessible central location.

Remember: It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Doing household chores can help empower kids with disabilities to be more self-sufficient. But it can take time for the new routines to stick. Try to remember to have patience and meet your child where they’re at in their journey toward greater independence. 

Using an app to track chores and allowance can be a fun incentive for many kids. The Mydoh app lets you assign tasks to your child and send them money when those chores are done. You can also monitor their spending and saving, encouraging them along the way. 

Download the Mydoh app here.

How to Explain the Racial Wage Gap to Your Kids

Canada is known as being one of the most diverse countries in the world. However, even though our country is becoming more racially diverse, the income for people in racial groups is lower. With rising inflation and housing costs, the racial wealth gap in Canada is likely to  get worse. 

Here’s a statistic to ponder: the average Black household in the U.S. had a net worth of $24,000 but that number is nearly eight times higher for white households. Why is there such a racial disparity? Let’s break down the issues. Here is what kids and teens need to know about the racial wage gap in Canada. 

What is wealth inequity? 

Wealth inequity is an uneven distribution of income and assets. The top 20 per cent of Canadian households own two-thirds of the total wealth in this country. Meanwhile, the bottom 40 per cent account for just 2.5 per cent, according to Statistics Canada. Where do Black families fit into these numbers? Sixty-seven per cent of Black families fall into the bottom tier of households, while just 47 per cent of white families do.

What contributes to the racial wealth gap? 

Many systemic and discrimination barriers play a role in creating a racial wealth gap for Black people. Take job hunting. Studies have shown resumes with “Black sounding” names like “Jamal” tend to receive fewer call backs for interviews than those with “English” names like “Matthew.”

Now consider the take-home pay of jobs. It’s no secret that women statistically earn less than men. This is known as the gender pay gap. Well, the same goes for different racial groups. Black people generally earn less than white people and other racialized groups for the same occupations, according to Statistics Canada. Specifically, Black males earned an average of $37,152 while white males took home an average of $60,437, more than 60 per cent higher! The gap between Black female incomes ($33,662) and white females ($40,351) isn’t as substantial but still noticeably less.

This loss in potential earnings for Black people means less money for household expenses, and less savings for short-term emergencies and long-term plans, such as buying a home.

Black family embracing each other and facing brick house

How does the wealth gap affect Black communities?

A reduced income and assets can make it harder for some Black families and individuals to secure access to credit and/or be approved for a big-enough mortgage.

Whether by choice or circumstance, Black people are more likely to be renters instead of homeowners. A 2018 Canadian Housing Survey found that 48 per cent of 1.3 million Blacks surveyed lived in a house owned by a member of their household, considerably less than the 73 per cent national average.

No home ownership means no sizable asset that could be inherited by their children to give them a head start on having wealth. As of January 2022, the average price for a home in Canada is now $748,450. And with exorbitant real estate costs, parental financial assistance has shifted from “nice to have” to “very much needed” in order to help adult kids afford a house of their own.

Earning less money also reduces the opportunity to invest in financial products that may appreciate over time. Blacks and other racialized communities were less likely to report investment income on their taxes, according to a 2019 report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The report found that the average amount of investment income for whites was $11,428, 47 per cent higher than the average for racialized groups ($7,774). This particular wealth gap may also speak to the lack of knowledge or comfort with investing.

How can financial literacy help close the Black wealth gap?

The more your kids know about financial literacy, the more empowered they’ll feel to make strong financial decisions. The good news is it’s never too late (or early!) for them to learn about money.

Some schools are picking up the ball. Ontario recently introduced financial literacy to the math curriculum for every grade. All Ontarian tweens and teens will learn about needs versus wants, mortgages, interest, rates of return, the power of compounding interest, credit cards, exchange rates, and stocks.

Ideally, tweens and teens need some money of their own to best learn how to handle finances. They can earn money through a part-time job, doing odd jobs in their neighbourhood or parents can give them an allowance for doing chores and household errands, or with no conditions other than gaining learning experience.

Think about ways to make spending/saving/sharing money more fun. Start lecturing and guaranteed, tweens will tune out. Try interactive websites, apps, and money games, and they may not even realize they are learning in the process.

Encourage them to save their money, especially what they may receive from grandparents and other relatives. As savings grow, they could open up a bank account and learn about deposits, withdrawals, and using an ATM.

As a next step, buying investments provides the potential for better rates of return if you intend to have them for the long haul. Some families buy stocks for their kids, usually a company of interest to the child, such as Disney, Apple, or Google. They can then track the stock’s progress. Investing provides long-term benefits, such as funds towards post-secondary education, a down payment on a first house or even retirement savings.

The racial wealth gap won’t be solved tomorrow. But all parents can empower themselves and their children to learn ways to improve their financial futures. You can’t teach what you don’t know, but many resources are available at your fingertips to help your money-smart tween get started.

Download Mydoh and help build the foundation of financial literacy for your kids and teenagers.

Tips for Saving Money on Family Meals

How many of us have peered into the fridge on a Monday night and wondered what to make for dinner? From figuring out what to make for dinner, to pleasing everyone’s tastes, to budgeting for groceries, feeding your family can be challenging.

Shopping for groceries and preparing family meals are tasks some of us would gladly outsource to a food delivery app. But with grocery prices predicted to increase by seven per cent in 2022, it’s worth learning how you can save on food costs and serve up delicious, healthy meals. And who says parents are the only ones who are responsible for making dinner? Cooking is just one practical skill tweens and teens can learn from household chores

In this article, you’ll learn simple ways to save money on your grocery bill with smart meal planning and easy family dinner ideas. We also spoke with Claire Tansey who is a cooking teacher and author of Dinner Uncomplicated: Fixing a Delicious Meal Every Night of the Week. She shares tips to help you keep family mealtimes simple, enjoyable, and budget-friendly.

What are the benefits of eating meals as a family?

Eating meals as a family is a simple, yet powerful, way to connect with your kids that can benefit their mental and physical health. One Canadian study found that children who routinely ate meals as a family tended to have better social skills, increased self-esteem, and academic success than those who did not. Eating as a family also introduces kids to explore healthy foods they might not otherwise try.

While gathering the family for meals can be challenging, proper meal planning can make eating together easier and save money on your grocery bill. 

Benefits of meal planning

Figuring out what to make for dinner can be stressful if you’re deciding just before it’s time to eat. Meal planning, according to Tansey, is the antidote to this scenario. “Meal planning is the secret to de-stressing dinners,” says Tansey. “It’s not ideal to be thinking about what to make when you’ve got decision fatigue from the day.” Here are some benefits of meal planning:

Saves time and stress

Although it may seem counterintuitive, investing the time to plan your meals in advance saves you time (and stress) in the long run. It can eliminate time you spend searching online for an easy recipe or a last minute run to the grocery store to pick up ingredients—all before you’ve even started preparing the meal. It also makes it harder to get your kids to help out in the kitchen.

“You face overwhelm,” says Tansey of the pre-dinner panic. And, if take-out food is your frequent go-to solution, food costs can add up quickly.

Buy only what you need

A weekly meal plan determines your grocery list so that you only purchase what you will actually use. “You don’t end up buying what I call aspirational ingredients,” says Tansey. “You don’t intend to throw those foods out, but you end up not using them and they languish at the back of the fridge.” 

This includes saying “no thanks” to items on sale that you may think are too good to pass up. Unless you have a plan to use them, advises Tansey, it may lead to food and money wasted. 

Eat healthier

When you serve dishes you’ve made from scratch, you know exactly what’s gone into them. Meal planning ensures your meals include the essential food groups that your kids need. When you have a plan, it also minimizes the potential to impulsively buy unhealthy quick fixes like fast food or junk food to quiet the groans of hungry teens or tweens.

Boy in stripped shirt cutting carrots on cutting board

How to meal plan

Plan your meals according to what works best for you. Tansey suggests planning three dinners per week if you’re just starting out and adding more over time.

Keep it simple

While it may be tempting to search the internet for new recipes every week, this can be overwhelming. Tansey suggests narrowing your options by sticking to one or two cookbooks that have recipes for dishes that your kids enjoy, switching cookbooks or online sources every few months. 

Stick to what you know  

When you start meal planning, be sure to include your favourite family dinners. “Start with meals you already love,” Tansey says, whether that’s a broiled salmon or homemade burgers. She also suggests you stock your kitchen with fixings for a “back pocket dinner,” which is a failsafe dish you can cook in a pinch. It’ll save you—and your wallet—from ordering pizza.

How to save money on groceries

Buy in bulk 

While it can be tempting to buy food in bulk when the price offers a great value, Tansey advises to not buy unless you have a plan for it. 

“Buying bulk is a slippery slope because you think you’re saving money, but if it goes in the green bin, that’s not the case,” says Tansey, who only purchases items in bulk that she knows her family loves. Pantry items make better bulk purchases than produce (which can rot) and even meat, that can only last for so long before freezer burn kicks in. 

Price compare

As the price of groceries increases, comparison shopping can be a way to stick to a weekly budget. While you can compare items using various apps, it might be easier to simply shop at stores with lower prices. You can review weekly flyers to help determine where to go. 

“There are discount grocery stores where you will see the difference in your bill,” says Tansey, who adds it’s a better use of your time to be cooking and enjoying family than driving from one store to another for groceries. 

Batch cook

Cooking a large quantity of food is a great way to save time, money, and effort because you can freeze it in portions for later use. An alternative to batch cooking a dish, says Tansey, is to cook “building blocks for meals”, such as a bolognese sauce, which can be used to make into a variety of meals, like soup or pasta. Additionally, it helps your teens and tweens from getting bored of the same meal.

How to involve kids in cooking family meals

Kids make great cooks too! Through fun cooking chores, kids learn about nutrition, math, and being responsible. Not to mention, you get some relief from cooking duty. Using the Mydoh app, you can create a recurring or one-time task of preparing the family dinner to help your kids plan the meal and check it off when it’s complete. Simple recipes for kids and teens are Pasta with Butter & Parmesan and World’s Best Pancakes by Claire Tansey. 

You don’t have to sacrifice health or taste to save money on groceries. With simple meal planning and smart grocery shopping, you will find eating meals as a family is not only joyful, but budget-friendly as well. 

Download Mydoh and help build the foundation of financial literacy for your kids and teenagers.

How to Open Your Kids’ First Bank Account

Your child’s first experience with banking is probably a cute piggy bank filled with loonies and toonies. But, eventually, they may want to do more with money, like send some to a friend, or family member. The next step is to graduate them to their very own bank account, where they can not only see their money grow but also do more with it as well.

Here’s how to decide which bank account is right for your child, and some of the options currently available for children and students.

Why kids need a bank account

One of the reasons our founders created the Mydoh money app and Smart Card for teens and kids was to help young people learn about financial literacy and manage money. Mydoh helps kids earn and spend their own cash, putting them on the path of financial responsibility. While there’s nothing stopping parents from opening a bank account for their child (if they haven’t done so already), we think there’s a benefit to getting your kids involved in the process once they’re old enough.

A separate bank account for your child makes sense in terms of giving them the independence to do more with their money—like sending some to a friend, or having somewhere to put gifts from grandparents or other family members. But more than that, it’s an opportunity for your child to get real-world experience of something we all do in our day-to-day adult lives: banking.

Kids are more likely to feel real ownership for their growing wealth and managing their money, if they’re given the opportunity to open their own account—one with their name on it! It’s an opportunity to encourage your child to ask questions about the Canadian financial system and why banks exist. There’s also something gratifying about saving money as a kid and watching your savings grow overtime.

Daughter and father opening a kids bank account online

How to decide which bank account is right for your child

With so many financial products on the market, you may be wondering which ones are the best option for your kids. Granted, you’re usually trading off no fees for small interest rates, but looking for an account that isn’t going to take a bite out of your kids’ savings will probably pay off more in the long run. You also want to make sure there aren’t too many hurdles accessing the account or that your child needs to maintain a minimum balance.

Here are 5 things to consider when comparing bank accounts for kids:

  • Monthly fees
  • Minimum balance
  • Number of transactions each month
  • Interac e-transfers
  • Easy access to ATMs

RBC bank accounts for kids

Below we highlight two different bank account options for kids available through RBC and how they differ:

1. Leo’s Young Savers

What is it: The RBC Leo’s Young Savers Account is designed to be your child’s first savings account.

Who’s it for: Youth aged 0-12 years

Features: Kids have access to free unlimited Interac e-Transfers and free debit transactions per month. There’s no monthly fee and no minimum balance. Parents can also set up automatic money transfers to their child’s account free of charge.

For more information, visit RBC Leo’s Young Savers Account.

2. Advantage Banking for Students

What is it: RBC’s student account is the next step in financial independence for youth who want more than a standard savings account.

Who’s it for: For students aged 13 years and up.

Features: Earn RBC Rewards points on debit purchases, no monthly fees for full-time students, unlimited debit transactions in Canada, free Interac e-Transfer transactions, no RBC fee to use another bank’s ATM in Canada.

For more information, visit Advantage Banking for Students.

How to open a bank account for your child

1. Gather your personal information

To open an account, you’ll typically need to provide two forms of ID such as:

  • Child’s passport
  • Child’s SIN (if they have one)
  • Birth certificate
  • Parent or guardian government-issued photo ID (e.g. health card, driver’s licence, passport)

Usually, the Leo’s Young Savers account can only be opened in person at your nearest RBC branch. However, virtual or phone appointments may be available with financial advisors. To see if virtual appointments are available, call 1-800-769-2561.

2. Visit your local branch

Student and youth accounts can be opened either in your local branch or online. Applications online take about five minutes to complete.

3. Decide which account is right for your kids

Decide which RBC bank account is right for you and involve your kids in the process of opening and operating their very own account. After all, It’s never too early to start helping your kids manage their own money, so they’ll grow into independent, happy money-smart adults.

Alternatives to opening a bank account for a child

The Mydoh money app for kids showing a child's saving account balance

If you’re not quite ready to open a bank account for your child, or want more oversight into your kids spending, consider Mydoh.

Mydoh is a digital money management app and Smart Cash Card with features to set up allowance and tasks to help kids learn the value of money. Plus, you’ll have insight into your kids’ spending and can react with emojis to encourage smart spending habits. Mydoh can be a great alternative or companion to opening your child’s first bank account.

Download the Mydoh money app and Smart Cash Card for kids