At 24 months, a toddler has picked up gross sensory motor skills and the ability to follow level one instruction. She gleefully and indiscriminately uses her new found physical independence. She explores anything and everything that takes her fancy, while trying to avert the constant supervision from an exasperated mum!
It is possible to give a positive direction to the physical independence of the toddler by guiding her to learn self -care skills, albeit in its rudimentary form.
These skills are important precursors to self independence and self-care at a later stage in life –
What are self-care skills
These skills are a part of daily living activities which promote health, hygiene and a sense of well being in family members.
In toddlerhood, your li’l one can take baby steps to learn self-care skills under your supervision. If you let your toddler pick up the initial skills, they can be honed as you go along. Just remember that your toddler needs to observe, learn and practice these skills again and again till she gets them right. You can add newer behaviours as she shows progress.
Be patient as the learning has to be paced according to her level and may take her days or weeks to master a particular skill.
A child learns best through a multi-sensory approach. So you can verbalise important actions as the child performs each task. Do remember to use level one instruction, for example you may say “Please put down your tooth brush on the table.”
- Start by helping your toddler to wipe her hands with a wet tissue before and after meals.
- In addition you may use water and napkin to clean her mouth and hands if there is leftover food.
- With time and practice, you may ask your child to wash her hands and rinse her mouth with water. She can also wipe her hands and mouth with a napkin.
- Ask your toddler to carry her own towel to the bathroom.
- Allow her to apply soap gel from a wash cloth or a scrub on some parts of her body.
- Let her enjoy pouring water on herself using a small mug and wash off some soapsuds.
- After you bathe her, she can use a small napkin to dry, say her hands or her face, while you finish the rest of the drying.
- Use a mirror to let your toddler watch you demonstrate teeth brushing movements with your tooth brush. Later, she can watch herself brush her own teeth.
- Always ask your toddler to hand over the toothbrush, toothpaste or a napkin as the case maybe.
- Let her watch you apply the toothpaste on her toothbrush.
- When you are done with brushing her teeth, seek her help to rinse her mouth and wipe her mouth and hands.
- If possible, allot a high chair at the dining table for your toddler.
- Guide her to carry her own plate and spoon to the table.
- Encourage her to wear an adult shirt or an apron over her clothes for obvious reasons.
- Let her eat with a spoon and use a sipper with a lid so that she can enjoy her meal.
- Let her eat at her pace but help her to finish the meal if required.
- Use her help to clear her plate and spoon from the table and take them to the washing area.
- As far as possible let your toddler select her own clothes from a tiny pile.
- Allow her to take off the clothes which she can.
- Ask her to extend her hands upwards when you put on or take off her shirt as it is easier that way.
- When your toddler is ready, ask her to put on some of the clothes by herself. Loose fitting garments are easy to handle.
Your toddler is learning self care skills for the first time as well as laying the foundation of self- care with your help. Every child has a different pace of learning these skills depending on many factors of development and the environment. Let her master these skills at her pace.
When your tot is learning a new skill, it is difficult to for her to focus on learning a second skill at the same time. The key is to just wait and watch till she is ready.