What are self care skills?
Self care skills are the everyday tasks undertaken to be ready to participate in life activities (including dressing, eating, cleaning teeth and more). 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 skills as they mature.
Why are self care skills important?
Self care skills are one of the first ways that children develop the ability to plan and sequence task performance, to organize the necessary materials and to develop the refined physical control required to carry out daily tasks (be that to opening lunch boxes, drawing or standing to pull up pants). Thus self care skills act as precursors for many school related tasks as well as life skills. The term ‘self care’ would suggest that these skills are expected to be done independently and in many cases it becomes inappropriate for others to assist for such tasks (age dependent of course). More specifically many preschools and schools will have a requirement for children to be toilet trained prior to starting at their centre.
When self care skills are difficult, this also becomes a limiting factor for many other life experiences. It makes it difficult to have sleep overs at friends or families, to go on school/preschool excursions, children may standout at birthday parties if they are not comfortable eating and toileting independently, they may experience bullying or miss out on other social experiences as a result.
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Self care difficulties can present as:
- Reliance on others to perform self care skills for them
- No interest in developing independence
- Limited interest in doll play (often self care related activities)