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How to Teach Children Self-Help Skills

How to Teach Children Self Help Skills PhotoHearing little toddlers saying “I’ll do it!” or “I wanna do it!” signifies another exciting phase in their mental development – he’s learning independence and self-awareness.

Self-help skills for children can come in forms of eating or dressing up on their own. Teaching them these skills is essential, of course.

But there are things that parents need to be aware of when teaching basic skills to their children:

Patience is a virtue

Remember that you’re teaching skills to little kids. They wouldn’t necessarily get it right the first time. Be very patient with them. They’ll get it soon, don’t worry.

Be an example

Children learn by imitation, so they always need you there so they can copy what you do. Be sure they see how you brush your teeth, and do things slowly. If it’s their turn, don’t be too stern when giving instructions.

Again, they won’t get it right the first time, so just keep on encouraging them.

Always praise and encourage

Whenever they do things on their own, praise them. Give them little treats and awards for a job well done. Positive statements on children go a long way.

They would feel more sure about themselves, and with this confidence, they will gain the courage to continue doing things right.


Speaking negatively

Parents tend to overuse negative statements with their kids. Instead of saying “Don’t spill!” say “Hold it with both hands. Be careful.”.

Psychologists have discovered negative statements used on children affect their mental and emotional development. Kids growing up with negative statements tend to feel insecure about themselves.

For more information on negative statements and their effects, read this article.


Another thing to consider is each child has his or her own pace in learning skills. You might be surprised that your little girl can pick up instructions more quickly than your little boy. This is because girls develop faster than boys, so they develop their motor skills faster.

Avoid comparing them to other siblings or other kids.


If your child happens to make a mistake, don’t punish them. Liquids may be spilled, clothes might be ruined, and food might be wasted. But that’s okay – it’s all part of your child’s learning process.

Just remember to tell them in a firm but gentle way what they’re supposed to do, and what they must not do.


If your little one’s bed cover is still wrinkled, and his pillows are skewed, don’t put it right in front of him. Praise him for a job well done, and leave the bed.

Redoing things he just did might give him the wrong impression that he did it wrong, and that might leave him sulking. If you really can’t stand the pillows being skewed, put it right the moment he leaves the room.

Self-help skills are important for toddlers to learn. Just keep in mind that it’s the lesson, not the time, that’s important. It doesn’t matter if it takes them too many repetitions before they can dress themselves up the right away. As long as they know how to clean and feed themselves, then they’re doing just fine.