Pre-School Age Stages of Development
Learning Self Care Skills is the first step on the road to becoming independent school children.
What are Self Care Skills?
- Dressing oneself
- Eating all by oneself
- Potty mastery
- Washing oneself – wiping our own noses, etc.
- Keep himself/herself safe
So often we hear little children say “I can do it myself” or “Me do it!” In order to become a person in one’s own right, little children have to feel that they can do things for themselves. Eventually this leads an ability to “like themselves” and value their accomplishments.
So, how do we help little children become Independent?
The first and most important thing to remember is that little children have an enormous admiration for those adults in their lives that provide caring activities – feeding, dressing, and diapering and later toileting help. Little children begin to imitate what grown ups do for them and in turn want to be just like the grown ups and do for themselves.
In order to conceptualize the transition from being totally dependent to being independent, it is helpful to Think of development in 4 stages.*Erna Furman, Toddlers and Their Mothers, 1992
4 stages a child goes through on their way to becoming independent:
- Mommy Does For
She diapers, feeds, helps to dress, bathes, etc.
- Mommy Does With
- Mommy looks for signs that her child is ready to begin to use the potty (ie…child does not like to have sticky hands), and encourages him to use the potty with her help.
- Mommy looks for signs that her child can begin to use a sippy cup, and encourages him to do so with her help.
- Mommy notices that her child can begin to use utensils to feed himself/herself, and helps her to do so with her help.
- And, mommy begins to help her child put on their own clothes – no longer just doing for but doing with.
- Mommy Stands by to Admire
Mommy allows her child to do for themselves while she claps or smiles and shows her proud acceptance of her child’s new found abilities.
Standing by to admire is the ability to allow the child to feel a sense of pride and positive self-esteem which is crucial in developing the ability to learn.
Examples: putting own coat on hook at school, wiping their own nose, washing their own hands, etc.
Mommy responds with joy; accepting how wonderful it is to have helped in the task of independence. She says goodbye to her school girl/school boy with pride knowing that she was the most important part of his/her ability to move into being the best schoolgirl and schoolboy.
Goals for Children in Achieving Independence:
- To help children do for themselves – encouraging their “I can do it” feelings.
- To help children explore, question, and challenge the new things in their transition from being in school with mommy to being in the classroom without mommy; all by themselves with their teachers and friends.
- To help children manage the many thoughts and feelings that they will experience this year as they make this important transition.
- To help mommies and other family members manage the many thoughts and feelings that they may experience this year as they make this important transition.
- To help the children learn to trust that their teachers and friends have ideas that can be listened to and respected.