Self care skills are the everyday tasks undertaken so children are ready to participate in life activities (including dressing, eating, cleaning teeth). 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 as they mature.
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 (e.g. opening lunch boxes, drawing or standing to pull up pants). 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 friend’s or family’s houses, 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.
Early Childhood Education
Early Childhood Care