What are self-care skills?
Self care skills are the everyday tasks undertaken so children are ready to participate in life activities (including dressing, eating, cleaning teeth). They are often referred to as the activities of daily living (ADL’s). While these are typically supported by adults in young children, it is expected that children develop independence in these as they mature.
What can be done to improve self-care skills?
- Visual schedule of the steps involved.
- Reward chart for independent completion of tasks (or attempt at, in the early stages).
- Small steps: Breaking down self-care skills into smaller steps and supporting the child through each step so that, in time, they can do more for themselves.
- Routine: Use the same routine or strategy each time you complete the same task to help them learn it faster.
- Consistency: Be consistent with the words and signs used to assist the child, and keep instructions short and simple.
- Allow enough time: Ensure that there is enough time available for the child to participate in self care activities without feeling rushed (e.g. practice dressing on the weekend to start with before then doing it before rushing to preschool or school).
What activities can help improve self-care skills?
- Small parts of activities: Practice doing a small part of a task each day as it is easier to learn new skills in smaller sections.
- Observation: Have your child to observe other family members performing everyday self care skills.
- Role play self care tasks such as eating, dressing or brushing teeth with teddy bears. Doing it on others can help learning it before then doing it on yourself.
- Take care of others: Allow the child to brush your hair or teeth first, before brushing their own.
- Timers to indicate how long they must tolerate an activity they may not enjoy, such as teeth cleaning.