Kids generally don’t enjoy being told what to do, especially when it comes to doing tasks.  According to executive function experts, Sarah Ward, M.S., CCC/SLP and Kristen Jacobsen, M.S., CCC/SLP, the key to increasing job performance is to change tasks from a simple behavior to a personal identity label. Doing this transfers the ownership of a task, thereby increasing a child’s sense of self. When we “own” a task, we are much more likely to both complete the task and do it well.

Empower your child with task ownership by making the task into a specific job and assigning it a “job title.” To do this, simply add “er” to the end of the word that describes the desired action, like “Toothbrusher,” “Window Washer,” “Writer,” “Packer,” “Listener,” etc.littleboycleaning

This simple and subtle shift from the verb form of a behavior (“Set the table, please”) to a noun label (“Max is a table setter!”) increases motivation. It also promotes positive attitudes, increased self-confidence, and has the power to change occasional constructive behaviors into more permanent habits and skills. Try it; it’s amazing!


Declarative Job Talk
(Noun Form)
(Verb Form)
Time to be a table setter! Set the table, please.
Please go upstairs and be a toothbrusher! It’s time to go upstairs and brush your teeth.
Time to be a hockey bag packer! Time to pack your hockey bag.
You’re practicing to be a writer. Please do your language arts homework.
Be a dog walker! Take the dog for a walk.

Photo by NewLivingHouston

About Skills 4 Life:

Skills 4 Life Pediatric Occupational Therapy offers a broad range of pediatric occupational therapy services to help your child master age-appropriate developmental skills, become more independent, increase academic success & develop confidence. The experts at Skills 4 Life specialize in handwriting, keyboarding & executive function coaching, but also work with children on social & emotional learning, motor skills, self-regulation strategies & activities of daily living. Skills 4 Life Pediatric Occupational Therapy offers your child a safe, compassionate environment to learn the critical skills they need to be successful. Learn more about our team & services at, or you can contact our office by email at or by phone at 303.351.1828 for a free consultation.

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