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Self Help Skills

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  • Self Help Skills

    I need advice on how to best help a 4 year old with some basic self help skills. He’s a bright boy but he is unable to do things like put on his shoes, pull up his pants, make his cot, wipe his bottom, and put on his coat. He won’t even try most of the time. He cries when I ask him to put on his shoes and screams “ I can’t do it!” I realize he is very immature emotionally and that he is babied at home ( older brother is 13) but he’s very capable of doing these things himself. I don’t mind helping a child who is struggling with a task but when he flat out refuses to try I don’t know what else to do but give in. I’m by myself most of the time and I can’t take him out to talk in the hall when he throws a fit. I even ask a classmate to help him sometimes so he can see that it can be done or offer a reward “whoever makes their cot by themselves can put a marble in the Happy Jar” but these don’t work. I’ve spoken to mom and dad and they say he has a problem with this at home and they are working on it.
    Anyone else have a child who struggles in this area? How did you work through it? Thanks.

  • #2
    I had a similar situation previously. Dcb was five and an only child. The doctor had to tell Mom at his appointment that he should be able to do these things at his age and to take extra time and not give in, because it was important for his development. Mom didn't want to take extra time. She just did it for him. Plus, she wanted to keep her baby.

    I have a similar situation currently too. The second Mom or Dad show up to pick up current dcb (4 yo almost 5) he instantly needs all eyes on him and needs help with everything. He wants to be carried too. It's very frustrating. There are some things that I think he truly doesn't comprehend like identifying numbers and letters. No matter what I do he just doesn't get it. Other things he needs help with when Dad shows up he does for me when Dad isn't there, and then he also turns into an instawhiner. Mom had read "What if it's the last time you carry them, or help them with their coat, etc." So she has a fear of it being her last time doing something for him. 🙄


    • #3
      I have this situation now with a set of siblings. I’m pretty sure my DCM read the same thing TwinMama’s parent read or she enjoys being “needed” 🙄

      DCB3.5 is “potty trained” but can’t pull up his pants on his own or wash his hands. When he’s done going to the bathroom, he looks at me with a blank stare, like “what do I do now?” DCB2 can’t put his own shoes on. No matter how many times I/DH have shown him, he says “I can’t do it.” He doesn’t even try some days. He’s the last one in the group that can’t do this himself.

      Truthfully, I pull up DCB3.5’s pants because I don’t have time to wait on him/nor do I want him to walk out of the bathroom without pants on. I also wash his hands for him/show him to remind him how it’s done because I think it’s gross. However, DCB2 has to sit in the kitchen away from any distractions and put his shoes on himself. If he does, I praise him. If he doesn’t and mom or dad arrive, then they do it for him. If we’re going outside, he’ll have to come out with us and do it there or miss out on recess.


      • #4
        I give parents self help skills checklists for age, highlight areas that need work and make it part of our curriculum goals for each individual child (Improvement, Same, Regression).
        Last edited by Cat Herder; 10-13-2021, 08:50 AM.


        • Springvalley
          Springvalley commented
          Editing a comment
          @cat herder: can you send me a copy through my email please

        • Cat Herder
          Cat Herder commented
          Editing a comment
          Sorry. I just saw this. The newer format is not as easy for me to use. If I ever don't answer a question, please feel free to PM me. Never assume I ignored anyone, I don't generally do that.

      • #5
        Self-Care Skills from 12-18 months
        1. Wash hands (may need help)
        2. Brush Teeth (followed up with help)
        3. Start exploring how to undress self
        4. Start exploring how to take off-put on shoes
        5. Start exploring how to use hair brush
        6. Choose own outfit (offer limited choices)
        7. Explore how to drink from open cup
        8. Begin eating alone with child safe spoon/fork
        9. Play alone for 10 -30 minutes
        Self-Care Skills from 18 months- 2 year old Child
        1. Undress pants/shorts
        2. Explore how to dress self (shirts tend to get stuck!)
        3. Put own pajamas into drawer
        4. Take off and stow away shoes
        5. Wash face and hands (may need help)
        6. Comb or brush own hair (finish up with help)
        7. Hang up coat (provide hook that is accessible)
        8. Serve self a snack from a shared plate onto own bowl or plate
        9. Explore using a napkin
        10. Explore pouring water from pitcher into own glass
        11. Explore how to wipe up spills
        12. Put trash into waste bin
        13. Play alone for 15-40 minutes
        Self-Care Skills for 3 year old Child
        1. Dress self (may need some help, esp. with buttons & zippers)
        2. Practice using snaps, zippers and buttons
        3. Explore what weather appropriate clothing means
        4. Put on shoes (it’s helpful to avoid laces)
        5. Explore taking shower alone (supervised)
        6. Hang up own towel (make sure hook is height accessible)
        7. Put away a few items of clothes from a laundry basket
        8. Explore how to make own bed
        9. Explore basic cooking (measuring, pouring, mixing)
        10. Pour glass of water/milk/juice from a pitcher (see next!)
        11. Wipe up own spills (helps to keep towels stored where child can reach)
        12. Get a snack from the pantry (try to keep healthy choices in reach)
        13. Use a napkin at the table
        14. Learn part of own address (city/town and own last name)
        15. Help set table (give choice of one responsibility such as napkin buddy or place mat setter)
        16. Remove own plate from table
        17. Explore using the kitchen sink to rinse fruits/veggies/cups
        18. Play alone for up to one hour
        Self-Care Skills for 4 year old child
        1. Continue practicing skills from the 2 and 3 year list above
        2. Explore washing hair alone in shower (may need help to complete)
        3. Explore more cooking skills (cracking eggs alone, making simple sandwich, cutting banana slices)
        4. Learn house phone number
        5. Learn own address
        6. Set / remove own place setting at table
        7. Learn a bit about how to work the washing machine
        Self-Care Skills for 5 year old child
        1. Dress independently (may still ask for help, but in general capable of doing alone)
        2. Brush hair independently
        3. Brush teeth independently
        4. Shower independently (may still need assistance with hair washing)
        5. Use toilet brush
        6. Replace toilet paper roll if finished
        7. Understand and choose weather appropriate clothing
        8. Explore tying laced shoes
        9. Explore what a balanced meal contains
        10. Use the kitchen sink with confidence to wash fruits, veggies, plates, cups
        11. Learn how to use microwave (with supervision)
        12. Explore more cooking skills (peeling vegetables with supervision, chopping ingredients with safe knife)
        13. Learn how to place item in oven using mitts (with adult nearby)
        14. Learn about emergency numbers (how to dial for police & fire)