“Let me do it on my own”
Self-sufficiency in children is the ability to control, manage and take initiative and personal decisions about how to live according to rules, preferences and develop basic activities for every daily life. As parents, sometimes we carry out activities for our children which they are perfectly capable of doing themselves.
For example, when we are in a rush, how often do we end up dressing them or washing their faces, putting on their shoes or feeding them? Activities which according to their age they are more than able to do for themselves.
But autonomy is not only about dressing yourself or eating unaided, but it’s also about taking decisions and making choices. The acquisition of language itself gives children independence whereby they can now answer questions for themselves rather than their parents answering questions for them.
Self-sufficiency in children starts from birth
One type of self-sufficiency in toddlers is the ability to express and identify their basics needs for well-being, play and relaxation. To discover, understand and control their own bodies is also a way of acquiring self-sufficiency and independence. They can learn to understand their limitations and abilities in order to act in an ever more independent fashion. Soon after birth, children start to build a sense of individuality, defined by a physical as well as psychological identity, with progressive self-sufficiency and growing confidence in their own abilities. The play is one way of developing autonomy. Enjoying the activities and using them to develop interests, knowledge, feelings, and emotions.
Self-sufficiency also influences the self-confidence of a child. To be able to do things for themselves makes them feel good about themselves and builds a positive image of themselves and acceptance of their own bodies, their needs, state and emotions, their characteristics, capacities, and limitations. It’s important to adopt the child’s biological rhythm to the routines of daily life. It’s key that the child feels loved, valued and appreciated by the adults who care for him. To strengthen self-sufficiency in children it’s important that they have a role to play in daily activities.
It’s just as important to take care of your child’s physical needs as his psychological needs.
It is important for development that the child has a framework for organizing activities and relationships. During lactation, adjust the child’s activities to his biological needs in order to start the process of adjustment. Routine will help to increase independence (food, sleep, hygiene, play …). Adults have an important role to play in encouraging the child’s ability to grow self-sufficiently by teaching them what they can do alone, leaving them to assume more tasks, accepting that you have to take small risks provided it doesn’t pose a serious threat to the safety of the child.
Areas of self-sufficiency:
Includes all areas related to the bathroom, eating, hygiene, and physical care. From early on we need to make sure they can dress themselves, choose their clothes, eat unaided, and that they are interested in their attire, hair, and cleanliness, even if at the start they can’t do this well (one solution is to put a very large bib on them so that they can eat comfortably and we are at ease with any stains, letting them choose accessories that they are most comfortable with, etc.)
Abilities related to being able to self-direct oneself in their behavior, understanding personal choices, respecting times, finishing tasks, asking for help when they need it. Etc. We need to respect their meal times, sleep and play.
We need to build on situations where the children are the ones who communicate what they want, we shouldn’t jump in and give them what we think they need or express it for them. Communication is learned through imitation, therefore we should talk to them and verbalize all our actions as this allows the child to understand. When they know how to talk a little, it’s interesting if they get involved in theatre and drama which helps them to express themselves and communicate, enabling memory, expressions, and communication as a whole.
Functional Academic Abilities
core school leanings which are applied to daily life (reading, writing, calculus, biology, and science) and which is implicit in order to function independently (to buy, read the metro stations signs, understand personal relationships, how society works, etc.)
Understand social interactions (start, maintenance, and ending of interactions), identify the social context in which they are participating, recognize feelings, control impulses, help and cooperate with others. Children need to learn to feel and know how to take social situations in order to play in the playground with other children, to understand that people need to be treated with respect and this is how to achieve things, and how to behave in society (no interrupting), understand other peoples problems and needs, and not to put yourself above everyone, etc.
Entertainment and Free time
Develop varied interests, satisfaction at home and participation in appropriate games and social situations. We shouldn’t only try to introduce the most varied entertainment options that we can for our children (sport, art, culture, mixing with friends) but we should also ensure that it fulfills them and is interesting for them all the whilst keeping an eye on each step that they take. It’s not always the case that if they are entertained for an afternoon that it’s particularly good for them.
Gabinete Psicopedagogico de Eduqa Escuelas Infantiles
Find out more about tips for parents in our blog