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10 Tips to Teach Children Self Help Skills

Here are 10 tips to help teach children to be independent with self help skills and everyday routines:

1.  Make sure you have time to give the child your undivided attention when you are first teaching a new skill or routine.  Likewise, make sure that the child is paying attention when learning the skill.  Minimize distractions and create a quiet environment at first.

2.  Break down the skill into simple steps.  Give specific directions on how to complete each step.  For example with washing hands break the skill into several steps: wet hands, put soap on hands, rub hands together and wash for 20-30 seconds, rinse hands, dry hands and turn off water.

3.  To help the child understand the self help skill provide visual images or photographs for each step.  When each step is completed the child can move on to the next picture.  See below.

4.  Demonstrate each step as you move through the sequence.  Check if the child understands fully before you move to the next step.

5.  Try to use the same wording on each step by step direction for consistency. As the child becomes more independant, reduce the verbal cues until they can be discontinued completely.

6.  Encourage and praise the child for each step that is accomplished.  If a child is unable to complete a step you can help with that one step.  Always work to slowly fade away your assistance.

7.  If able, offer a choice to help the child feel more independent.  For the handwashing example, offer two different kinds of soap to choose.  For dressing skills, let the child pick out his/her clothes.

8.  Offer some positive reinforcement.  For example, if you complete a certain number of steps then you will be able to choose a book to read, play with a toy for special toy for a few minutes, etc.

9.  Be patient.   Take your time completing the routine or skill.  Provide extra time to complete the skill.

10.  Celebrate!  When a child is consistently independent with a new skill or routine celebrate the success.  Give the child a reward.  Check out these 30 free or low cost rewards.

Need visual picture images when teaching dressing skills?  Check out this popular packet – Dressing Skills: Step by Step Visual Directions to Teach Children How to Dress.  Find out more here http://www.yourtherapysource.com/dressing.html