Tips for raising a self-sufficient child

We’ve all heard about kids who go off to college never once doing a load of laundry. While we all collectively shake our heads in disbelief, the reality is that our cute baby won’t stay a baby forever. One day your baby will grow up and need to know how to cook a meal for themselves, schedule a dentist’s appointment and manage a budget. You can prepare your child with knowledge and experience starting at an early age.

Teaching skills of daily living

It’s not too early to start teaching skills of daily living like self-care and everyday tasks. For very young children you will assist or complete these tasks. But with age, time and practice children will develop these skills and gain their independence. Many activities of daily living also correspond to early childhood milestones.

Early childhood milestones

toddler eating with a spoon6 – 12 months: hold a bottle independently & feed themselves small pieces of food (Cheerios for example)

1 – 2 years: extend arms and legs to cooperate with dressing; use a spoon / spork

2 – 3 years: dress and undress with assistance; drink from an open cup

3 – 4 years: uses toilet independently; dress and undress self

4 – 5 years: choose weather appropriate clothes; comb hair

Tips for building your child’s skills

Activities of daily living are skills necessary for kindergarten success. They require organization, planning and time management as well as strong fine motor movements, coordination and balance. Most of us take these activities or skills for granted because we can do them easily and on autopilot. But a young child is building this skill set.

You can give your child reminders, verbal instructions, demonstrations and even coaching to help them figure out these tasks. This happens when you talk with your child while you or they are completing everyday tasks. Provide extra time for your child to complete the task (be patient and have realistic expectations of what they can do). Focus on the process or the journey. There will be accidents; clean them up together. This is a great opportunity to be a role model.

Activity ideas

  • toddler washing handsShare helpful tips or cues like teaching your child to sing the alphabet song two times while they wash their hands to get them clean.
  • Break tasks into steps (like step 1 – wet your hands, step 2 – add soap).
  • Give your child the tools to be successful. For example at mealtime give them child-sized utensils. Remember that some foods can be eaten with fingers and some cannot.
  • Getting undressed is easier and usually mastered before getting dressed. To build your child’s success, initially avoid buttons, zippers and belts.

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As the Early Childhood Learning Coordinator, Sherry is focused on engaging young children and their families in play-based early learning experiences. The Learn & Play Bus and its service are at the heart of her work. Sherry has a background in early childhood education.