Self-care needs to be taught early. Begin at the young age teaching children to care for themselves. We automatically begin teaching them as they become toddlers and begin walking. If they can walk, then they can pick up their toys. This is just the beginning of teaching them self-care in picking up after themselves.
Teaching them to brush their teeth seems like a simple task, but is important to self-care. One day they will need to interview for a job, and clean teeth and fresh breath is important to the success of the interview. We are not going to be there to hold their hand for everything.
Important tasks to teach:
- dress themselves
- tie their own shoes
- brush their teeth
- eat healthy
- wash hair
When Do We Teach Self-Care?
At what age do we teach each self-care tasks? That is a simple question to answer. When they are ready! The sooner the better. Only you, as the parent, knows.
Learning to walk is a skill that is developed, but it is also taught. We help them and pray we don’t miss that first step. Big SMILE. Children learning to dress can be a bit tricky, but we need to let them try and praise them for the accomplishments. Remember, though, only a mom will give an honest opinion as they get older. So don’t hold back, be sincere and give the opinion in love. As they begin to fine tune their motor skills, they should be able to learn to tie their shoes. It is not helpful to avoid lace up shoes. When they have to wait for you to tie their shoes, it will encourage them to learn how faster. So don’t always get those easy Velcro shoes. While those are great and easy for us, they are not always helpful for learning self-care independence.
Brushing teeth is simple to teach too. Provide a simple rubber tooth brush for them to begin brushing with while you brush your teeth. Setting up the routine is key here. Let them see you doing it and they will want to also. When they are little they always want to mimic what we do. Washing themselves and their hair is simply a task to teach as they are ready. Encouraging them to wash, and help in the process. Once they master each portion, begin letting them do it themselves. The quicker we let go of a task, the quicker they will learn the task well, and it will become a habit.
Doing laundry is a skill that I have found a lot of my own peers didn’t teach their children. It takes several steps, and each step can be learned at different stages. Kids can start sorting laundry as soon as they learn their colors. Mine all knew how to do their own laundry by nine years old. Now that didn’t mean they enjoyed it and it didn’t mean Mom didn’t still do it for them sometimes. As a general rule, though, I organized a way that they could do their own laundry.
Cooking is necessary to teach kids. They love to be in the kitchen because they love to eat. Kids love to lick the spoon and stir the batter. However that love for learning to cook has to be developed and taught. Again, start young by engaging your child to help in the kitchen from setting the table, to making the meal, to cleaning up afterward.
Following directions is key to all of the self-care. Teaching and insisting on our children following directions when given in a process of learning is imperative. We want them to learn to take care of themselves. Teaching children to follow instructions can be very difficult but don’t give up and you will see the rewards.
Watching my own children as they have entered adulthood, I am thankful that I taught the self-care skills needed for them to move forward into adulthood. They all know how to run a household as well as how to care for themselves.
When do you begin teaching self-care to your children?