Encouraging children to develop self-care skills

As children start to move into their preschool years and head towards their more formal schooling, it is important for them to be able to develop some self-care skills including proficiency at toileting (including wiping), being able to adjust their own clothing and take on/off items such as jackets or jumpers and be able to feed themselves successfully. Here are some ways that parents and carers can encourage independence and development of self-care skills. 


A large part of toileting success is learning to recognise early warning signals of toileting need before it becomes an emergency. You can prompt your child during the day to ask if they might need to use the toilet and if they are frequently 'caught short' you can encourage them to have regular trips to the toilet before they gauge that they may need to go. Many children in this age group also struggle with wiping as they have relatively short arms to torso length (compared to adults). If your child does struggle you can try sending them with flushable wipes, as moistened wipes are often better at removing debris. 

Clothing tips

It can be hard for children to take items on and off by themselves.  You can help them to practice closings fastenings by glueing a zipper and fabric from an old piece of clothing onto a board, so that they can practise with marrying up the zipper ends while they can see the zipper from an easier angle. It can also be much easier to practise tying shoe laces on a punched board. 

Another fun trick is to practise taking clothes on and off to a song and try to improve the time it takes to do the clothing each day. Kids often like to practise 'beating their record' for things like taking shoes on and off. Not only does this help with self-care, this also helps to develop fine motor skills. 

Feeding themselves

It is a good idea when planning meals to choose items that help the kids to start practise feeding skills. This could include using a blunt knife and fork to cut soft items like pancakes and bananas so that they can get better at using these items and getting the food into their mouth. You can also practise eating foods like yoghurts that need some practise and focus to get into the mouth effectively! Again, this helps to develop fine motor skills as well as self-care skills. 

Practising self-care skills in preschool can allow children to prepare for the start of schooling with confidence and enthusiasm.