You probably already know about the vital role that good self care skills play in your physical, mental, and emotional wellness.
But did you know that the foundations of self care skills are developed during childhood?
Good self care skills in children are important because they provide the building blocks for areas of development such as:
- Sequence task planning and performance
- Organization of materials
- Refined physical control
If your child is struggling with their self care skills, pediatric occupational therapy can help.
Here at Little Feet Therapy, one of the therapeutic specialty treatments for kids we offer is pediatric occupational therapy treatments for improving self care skills.
Keep reading to learn more about the importance of good self care skills in children and how occupational therapy can help.
What Are Self Care Skills?
Self care skills affect a wide range of activities in our adult lives, including:
- Personal care, such as bathing, toileting, dressing, and feeding
- Functional mobility, such as walking to the store, or cleaning your house
Thus, the learning of self care skills is an important part of childhood development.
Pediatric self care skills refer to the everyday activities of daily living (ADL’s) that children undertake in order to participate in life activities.
Some examples of pediatric self care skills include:
- Getting dressed
- Brushing their teeth
- Brushing their hair
- Cutting their nails
- Bathing and washing their hair
- Using the toilet
Very young infants have their self care needs met by their caregivers. However, it’s typically expected that children will gain independence as they grow.
For example, while babies are placed in diapers to care for their toileting needs, toddlers are typically expected to begin to learn how to use the toilet independently.
Children who struggle with their self care skills often experience a variety of social difficulties, including:
- Inability to take part in social events, such as sleep overs or school trips
- Trouble fitting in with peers
How To Tell If Your Child Has Difficulty With Their Self Care Skills
Each child learns self care skills at their own pace.
Therefore, it is important to note that not all children experiencing slow progression of their self care skills require intervention.
However, if you are worried that your child is struggling with their self care skills, there are some warning signs you can look out for.
If your child is struggling with their self care skills, you may notice that they:
Are unable to eat or get dressed independently
- Have trouble using cutlery
- Require help to open food packaging
- Have trouble with the movements required to brush their teeth
- Have trouble falling asleep
- Refuse to use the toilet without help
- Have delays in potty training skills
- Display a lack of motivation for independent self care
In addition, children with struggle with their self care skills often experience difficulties with other skills, such as:
- Following instructions
- Understanding language
- Social skills
- Fine motor skills
- Gross motor skills
- Learning new tasks
- Executive functioning
Certain children may struggle more with their self care skills than others, such as children diagnosed with:
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Cerebral palsy
- Sensory processing disorder
- Down syndrome
- Developmental delays
How Can Occupational Therapy For Self Care Skills Development Help?
Occupational therapy is an excellent choice for the development of self care skills in children.
Pediatric occupational therapy for self care skills takes into consideration a variety of factors, including:
- Your child’s goals
- Your child’s abilities and limitations
- Your child’s environment
There are multiple different occupational therapy approaches for the development of self care skills.
Your child’s occupational therapist may focus on improving your child’s ability to reach their goal.
For instance, an occupational therapist may work with your child to improve their fine motor skills so that they can achieve independence in self care tasks such as brushing their teeth.
An occupational therapist can also help with adapting your child’s environment in order to help them achieve their goal.
For children who struggle to stay standing in the shower, a shower chair is an example of such an adaption.
Finally, your child’s occupational therapist may also focus on modifying your child’s tasks.
For example, rather than standing, an occupational therapist may instruct your child to sit in bed while putting on their pants.
Some other examples of occupational therapy techniques used to help develop self care skills include:
- Creating a routine to help your child learn which self care tasks are expected of them, and when they should complete these tasks
- Using a visual schedule to remind your child to complete their self care tasks
- Addressing sensory concerns, such as aversions to the feeling of teeth or hair brushing
- Increasing your child’s strength and stability to reduce the amount effort needed to complete tasks
- Improving your child’s coordination and motor planning, fine motor skills, and executive functioning
- Practicing self care tasks with your child in their home
- Providing you with education on how to provide support for your child while they undergo occupational therapy
If your child is struggling with their self care skills, it is important to begin therapy as soon as possible.
Left untreated, children who experience difficulties with self care skills are more likely to experience difficulties in other areas of their lives, such as academics, behavioral development and self esteem. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
At Little Feet Therapy, we can help.
Book your appointment with Little Feet Therapy today to get started.