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Developing Independence: Teaching Your Child Self-Care Skills


Self-care skills and completing daily routines are important waymarks on the path to self-sufficiency, self-esteem, and a child’s sense of autonomy. When a child participates in routines such as feeding, bathing, and dressing, they are developing the ability to plan and sequence tasks that later helps with critical thinking. When children independently complete self-care tasks, it brings a host of benefits for both you and your child. Below are a few strategies to foster independence around daily routines.

  • Gain your child’s attention by getting down on your child’s eye level

  • Give clear and concise steps for each routine. Avoid telling your child what he is doing wrong, but instead, repeat each step. For example, when a child is learning to use the toilet, you can say:

  • Pull your pants down

  • Sit on the toilet

  • Go peepee/poopoo

  • Wipe yourself

  • Pull up your pants

  • Use the handle to flush the toilet

  • Model steps for your child or prime your child by presenting information to perform a task. Use animated videos, books, or social stories to provide your child with expectations.

  • Take pictures of each step and create a visual sequence of each task.

  • Remember to use positive reinforcement! Reward and praise your child for attempts at completing a task in the beginning and gradually reward your child for successful completing of a task.

When teaching your child about daily routines, remember what is age-appropriate; you want to set up realistic and achievable goals. When a child successfully reaches a goal, you will see that his self-confidence and his sense of competence begins to grow; your child will likely exert more independence complete daily tasks on his own.


[untitled work of a child and her mother washing their hands]. Retrieved from

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