We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
Self-care: What to expect when
When your child was a baby, you did everything for her. You changed her diapers, wiped her face when she spat up, and burped her after meals. But as she gets older, she'll learn to do more things for herself, from pulling off her shirt to getting her own bowl of cereal.
This is the "I want to do it myself" age. Watching your child grow increasingly independent can be bittersweet, but learning to take care of herself is an important part of your child's personal and social development.
Undressing: While your child may already know how to undress himself, around now he's likely to go through several clothing changes a day (just because he can), and that's fine – 2-year-olds are notoriously messy anyway and often end up with their clothes streaked with food or finger paint. On the flip side, though, if your child resists changing her clothes when you want him to, consider giving up. This is the time to relax your expectations a bit.
Catching a sneeze: Your child can start to follow some basic rules of hygiene. An important one is sneezing into his elbow, as opposed to his hand or the air. Preschools teach this technique to keep children from spraying germs everywhere and passing along germs by touch. (And it's a good practice for adults, too.)
Brushing her teeth: Many 2-year-olds insist on brushing their teeth. Show her how and at age 3 she'll probably have enough dexterity to use the necessary circular movements as she brushes.
Let your child make a first pass, but follow up with a more thorough cleaning yourself. And make sure she uses only a pea-size drop of fluoride toothpaste. She's apt to swallow some instead of spitting it all out, and too much fluoride is not a good thing.
Your child won't be capable of adequate toothbrushing until much later, possibly not until age 6 or 7. It takes quite a bit of coordination for a child to hold a toothbrush and maneuver it around her mouth so she's really cleaning in there.
But let her do her bit, even if it takes longer than you'd like. It makes her feel grown up and gets her into a good habit for life. If you find yourself rushed in the morning, you can let her take her time at night.
Using the toilet: Some children develop the physical and cognitive skills necessary to begin toilet training by around 18 to 24 months, while others aren't ready until age 3 or 4. Your child will let you know when it's time. For more, see Toilet Training in Three Easy Steps.
Preparing breakfast: Your 2-year-old may not be capable of fetching a bowl, filling it with cereal, and pouring on the milk all by himself, and you may not be capable of watching him try. But you can break down these tasks and let him do as much as possible.
For example, have him bring you a plastic bowl (from a low cabinet). After you've poured the cereal, let him pour the milk from a measuring cup. You can also encourage your child's independence by putting healthy snacks within reach so he can get them on his own. He may drop some on the floor, but applaud his efforts anyway.
What you can do
Encouragement is key. Whenever your child tries her hand at a new skill, tell her you're proud she tried (regardless of the result) and urge her to try again.
Don't always jump in to help. Let her ask for help before you give it – it's essential that she have enough time to master tasks on her own, at her own pace.
Try not to pressure her before she's ready, either. And be flexible: If allowing her to prepare her own breakfast means you'll have to sweep cereal off the floor, go with the flow.
What to watch out for
Children develop skills differently, some more quickly than others. But if your child hasn't shown interest in doing anything for himself by the time he's 2, if he seems incapable of handling the most basic tasks such as feeding himself with utensils, or if he loses skills he once had, talk to his doctor.
Advances in self-care skills come fast and furious during the preschool years. Most kids have mastered the basics of self-care – dressing, washing their hands, feeding themselves, and going to the bathroom (but not necessarily wiping!) – by their fourth birthday. As the months and years roll by, your child will get better and better at meeting her own needs.
You'll blink, a few years will go by, and she'll be able to tie her shoes and shower or bathe by herself. Then it's just a matter of time until she can do laundry and cook dinner, not to mention drive herself to soccer practice. By then you'll be wishing she'd let you baby her once in a while, but her refusal to give up her autonomy will be a testament to your success in teaching her to care for herself.