Encouraging Self Help Skills in Children

A YMCA Childcare participant prepares her snack

A YMCA Childcare participant prepares her snack

As a healthy part of their development, children have a natural drive to be independent and to do things on their own. As children grow and have opportunities to develop their skills, they learn to do more and more independently.

YMCA childcare staff support children in their quest for independence by regularly providing opportunities for them to take personal responsibility. While it can be faster and less messy for adults to do things for children we want to help children develop competencies they can take pride in.

When children practice self-help skills, such as feeding and dressing themselves, they are utilizing their gross and small motor skills, gaining confidence in their abilities and developing self-confidence. These early successes lead to them being more willing to try new things while recognizing that practice leads to skill development.

Ways to encourage self- help skills at home; 

Meal times – Encourage your child to serve themselves, pour liquids into a cup and eat without direct assistance during meals

Dressing and grooming – Allow extra time for your child to dress/undress themselves and to perform personal grooming tasks

Hygiene and toileting- Encourage children as they learn to use the toilet, climb on and off the toilet seat, pull clothing up and down, and wash their hands

Daily chores- Involve your child in age appropriate household chores. Studies show that early involvement leads to greater independence in early adulthood.

Celebrate your child’s success!

Submitted by Margaret Ferriss, Eau Claire YMCA Childcare Director


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