An important area when thinking about children self-help skills are self-care skills. Self-care skills are everyday tasks undertaken to be ready to partake in life’s activities. They include dressing, eating, washing hands, etc they are also referred to as activities of daily living. While these activities are typically supported by adults in young children, it is expected that children develop independence in these as they mature. Giving children a chance to practice self-care skills is a very important part of growth and development. The time and effort you invest into encouraging self-care is a sure way to help your child feel capable. Learning to get dressed, brushing teeth and other simple self-care tasks help children develop a sense of autonomy and responsibility.
Self-care is also an opportunity for children to feel in charge of their body and know that they are trusted by their parents. Here are some self-care skills by age, which we can encourage our children to practise;
Crawlers to 18 months
-wash hands (will need help)
-feed him/herself a snack- a piece of bread, a slice of fruit, biscuits, etc.
-hold spoon and tooth brush to imitate parents or siblings
-play alone for 10-30 minutes
2 to 3 years
–brush his teeth and wash his face (will need help)
-learning how to dress and undress himself (will need help)
-take off pants/shorts with elastic waist
-learning how to take off shoes and keep them in an assigned place
-clear his plates after meal
-explore how to drink from open cup
-put trash in waste
-play alone for 15-40 minutes
3 to 5 years
-begin pouring water/milk/juice from jug
-wipe up own spills (keep towels within reach)
-safety tips should be top on the list; learn full name, address and phone numbers
-learn emergency numbers; parents, police, etc.
-brush teeth, comb hair without assistance
-learn how to use the kitchen sink to wash fruits, plates, cups etc.
-help in the kitchen
-once fully potty-trained, learn to wipe bottom correctly without assistance.
Self-help skills are worth the time and effort in a child care program. The secret to success is to give children age-appropriate experiences and provide the appropriate supports to help children be successful. Child care providers can offer opportunities for children to develop self-help skills and give them ample time to work on these important tasks. Remember that adults are important role models. We model self-help skills; children learn a great deal from watching us.
Children can learn so much from doing things by themselves. It may not be perfect at first and not exactly how we as parents would do it but we are giving our children the opportunity to grow each time they are able to try something new, on their own.