When your child has completed high school and plans to attend college, technical school, or job training, what will they need to accomplish independently at home in order to take care of themself?

Self-Care Skills

  • Personal hygiene: bathing, combing hair, dressing, shaving, applying makeup, feminine care
  • Shopping for groceries, clothing, and home/personal items
  • Meal preparation and cleanup
  • Health management: maintaining a healthy lifestyle, medication use, emergency responses
  • Financial responsibility

If all this feels enormously overwhelming, fear not. The goal for a grade schooler is certainly not independent performance in advanced skills. Instead, the goals are slowly familiarizing your child with the tasks and expecting increased independence over time.

For example, a young grade schooler should be taught the purpose of budgeting money, the future prospect of shaving, a broad range of cooking techniques, and the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

Meanwhile, they may only be expected to use an envelope system for saving allowance, understand the concept and safety concern of razors, use a toaster and spread butter on the bread, and to participate in a team sport.

Finally, if your child is slowly made aware of all that is involved in self-care, they can ease into independence instead of being surprised with a shaving lesson in high school when they didn’t realize a razor existed.

Developing Self-Care Tips

  • Talk with your child about your daily self- and family care.
  • Invite your child to explore self-care items.
  • For ease of learning, break down each task into small, sequenced steps.
  • Incorporate organization into the task sequence. Items should be kept in a consistent location.
  • Ask yourself (and your child) if the task can be made accessible or simpler with labeling, restructuring the process, using various assistive technologies, or adapting your home.
  • Help your child set self-care goals and focus your teaching on one task at a time.
  • Help your child understand the value and purpose of each task.
  • Teach while your child is challenged but not frustrated.
  • Don’t be surprised if they regresses in other skills as they are learning a new, complex skill.
  • For the sake of safety, begin teaching the use of appliances with the power off.
  • Your high expectations are essential to your child’s development of personal responsibility. Expect your child to accomplish for themself all that they are capable of accomplishing.
  • Provide realistic feedback as your child learns self-care skills.

For more information on teaching self-care skills, read FamilyConnect’s article, “Teaching Your Child Self-Care Skills.”