Managing Self is one of the Statutory Early Learning Goals: ‘Children at the expected level of development will: manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs, including dressing, going to the toilet and understanding the importance of healthy food choices.’
Self care skills are one of the first ways that children develop the ability to plan and sequence task performance, to organise the necessary materials and to develop the refined physical control required to carry out daily tasks like opening lunch boxes, drawing or standing to pull up pants.
What are the building blocks necessary to develop self care skills?
Hand & finger strength: An ability to exert force against resistance using the hands and fingers.
Hand control: The ability to move and use the hands in a controlled manner.
Sensory processing: Accurate registration, interpretation and response to sensory stimulation in the environment and one’s own body.
Object manipulation: The ability to skilfully manipulate tools, including the ability to hold and move things with control.
Expressive language (using language): The use of language through speech, sign or alternative forms of communication to communicate wants, needs, thoughts and ideas.
Planning & sequencing: The sequential multi-step task/activity performance to achieve a well-defined result.
Receptive language (understanding): Comprehension of language.
Compliance: Ability to follow simple adult-directed routines.
Self care is just as important as academics for growing, developing kids. When taught correctly, self care will help kids identify their physical needs and begin to take care of them, before emotions can ever get in the way.
One of the most important aspects of self care is taking care of your physical health. The same applies for children. There are a lot of ways to encourage healthy habits for children, such as exercising in fun ways like playing in the park or playing catch and deep breathing, going for a long walk or doing stretches together.
There are also smaller tasks that a child can accomplish on their own that will make them feel empowered to take care of their bodies, like:
Blowing their own nose
Washing their hands
Dressing and undressing
Brushing their own hair
Brushing their own teeth
Getting their drink themselves
Helping with food or snack preparation
Every child and family unit is different. While there’s no exact formula for self care for you or your child, it’s important to start having conversations about the best ways your child can take care of their mental and physical health. If you’re able to help them create those habits now, they’ll be more inclined to stick with those habits when they’re adults.
As always, we’re here to help. Don't hesitate to get in contact with us about ways to teach your children about self care!