Self-care skills are a set of skills that help us to be able to take care of our health and well-being. Being able to take care of ourselves is important for everyone including our children. We were born to be dependent on our parents at the first stage of life and gradually we learn to be more independent for adulthood stage. The process that we have been through will be experienced by our children too.
In preparing our children to be more independent in their life, self-care skills are the primary occupation before they learn other occupations including play, leisure, education, and social participation in futures. Skills such as feed himself for lunch and dinner, put on shirt and pants, going to the toilet by himself are part of the self-care skills. These skills not only to be used at home but also in different contexts.
Delayed in self-care skills will affect a child's performance in all these areas. Therefore, it is crucial to help children to learn self-care skills in culturally and socially appropriate ways within their family and community.
Let us explore how delayed in self-care skills give an impact on children in other occupations:
Example 1: Nurul is a 6 years old girl who is not yet able to dress. Due to her difficulty in dressing, it affects her role as a student to change shirt for her Physical Education (PE) class or sensory play. She is also having difficulty to participate in group play involved playing dress-up.
Example 2: Adam is a 5 years old boy who is not yet able to use a spoon to feed himself. Due to his difficulty in using a spoon, he is unable to participate in eating rice, drink soup from a bowl in different contexts including home, school, and restaurant.
Based on Nurul and Adam condition, delays in self-care skills affected their education, play, leisure, and social participation. WHAT ARE SELF-CARE SKILLS? There are 6 main components of self-care skills for children. Children develop their self-care skills according to their age and level. Some of them might be developing their skills later compare to their peers.
How can we help children to learn self-care skills at home and school?
1. Opportunity Creating an opportunity for children to learn the skills in their daily routines will provide meaningful practice for children. They will be more motivated when they use their own equipment in a meaningful context. Example: To learn how to use spoon and fork, parents create an opportunity for the child to practice the skills by preparing a spoon and fork on the table to be used by the child to eat their lunch and dinner at home. Meanwhile, at school teachers will inform a person who prepares their lunch to provide a spoon and fork for the child to use during lunch break. 2. Analyze In certain conditions, parents and teachers might encounter children who are still not yet able to participate in self-care skills even though they created opportunities. Parents and teachers will need to: - Analyze the task and identify the challenges in the task that preventing the child to participate in the skills.
- Prepare activities to improve underlying body function, motor skills, and process skills such as fine motor activities, gross motor activities, etc. 3. Maintain Establish habits and routines to enable the child to have more opportunities to practice the skills by incorporating the targeted self-care skills in a child's everyday activities. 4. Modify Modify the task, equipment, or environment if necessary to maximize their ability to participate in daily activities. A consistent failure in practicing self-care skills will decrease their motivation and self-esteem.
Learning self-care skills can be challenging for children. Building and maintaining a support system for children is crucial to help children to go through the process of learning.