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Becoming independent

There are so many things we do every day without even a second thought, but imagine trying to dress yourself or hold a knife and fork for the very first time.

Becoming independent

Sydney Local Health District paediatric occupational therapist Rachel Smith explains how parents can help children learn every day self-help skills by letting their children try things on their own.

“It’s important to give babies and children the time to learn new skills rather than do everything for them,” she said.

This can be something we forget in our busy lives. It can be a lot easier (and faster) to pack our child’s school bag or put their shoes on for them. By doing this, children miss out on the chance to practice these skills.

“It’s like when an adult starts a new job. They need time to learn and it’s the same for the children. They need lots of practice and lots of time and patience,” Rachel said.

Self-help skills begin to develop in older babies when they start to hold a bottle or cup or pick up pieces of food to feed themselves. It’s important to continue to watch babies with food and drink, even when they can they can do it on their own.

Toddlers will start to help dress themselves by doing things like reaching their arms and legs out. They will also enjoy trying to use a spoon at meal times.

For pre-schoolers, self-help skills can include twisting the lid on their drink bottle and washing and drying their hands.

Rachel said reaching these milestones is important.

“It develops confidence when a child has the opportunity to practice even part of self-help”.

If you are worried about your child’s development, please contact the Child Health Information Link on 9562 5400 and select option 2.



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Page Last Updated: 20 November, 2018