5-year-old boy walks in nature alone, holding up an autumn leaf. By this age, children should be able to perform several self-care skills independently.

What Self-Care Skills Should My Child Have at 5 Years Old?

Five is a big year, as many children will be starting school for the first time! With this huge milestone looming close, now may be a good time to reflect on the self-care skills that your child has and work on those that they haven't yet mastered. Kindergarten teachers often refer to a child's ability to do things independently as being a big factor in their success in the classroom. In fact, being able to take care of themselves independently can really have an impact on their self-esteem. Little ones who can dress and groom themselves, know where to find items they need, and can clean up after themselves beam with pride when they show the adults in their lives all they can do! Take a look at the list below to get an idea of what skills you need to be working on at home.

  1. Toileting - By 5-years-old your child should be able to use the bathroom independently. This includes being able to manage buttoning and unbuttoning their pants, cleaning themselves, and washing up after.If your child is still struggling at this age, speak to your pediatrician.
  2. Dressing and undressing - At this age, your child should be able to get dressed and undressed with minimal help. Resist the urge to put their shoes on for them or to button up their coat because you want to get out the door. Allow ample time for your child to get dressed at a relaxed speed so that they can concentrate on what they're doing without getting flustered.
  3. Feeding themselves - Your child should be able to manage eating most foods on their own. Yes, they may need you to help cut up their steak or peel an egg. But, in general, they should be able to feed themselves and manage utensils. It would be extra helpful to practice opening lunch items with your child, as well. When they enter school, there will be dozens of children in the lunchroom to attend to, so they may have to wait awhile to get help with opening a yogurt or punching a straw into their juice pouch. Practice these skills by showing your child how to do it and then giving them ample opportunities to try it themselves at home.
  4. Basic grooming - It's reasonable to expect your 5-year-old to do the following in the area of grooming: brush teeth, wash face, brush hair, wash hands, and manage a large portion of their bathing. Again, these skills can be mastered with consistent practice when you give your child time and space. Give them plenty of time at the end of the night to practice their grooming routine instead of rushing with them to get it done before bedtime.
  5. Cleaning their room - You should expect your child to pick up their toys and place them in the proper storage areas at the end of the day. This is a habit that, when formed early, will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Clean, organized spaces help reduce stress and teach them how to be organized in other areas of their lives, (such as their lockers and backpacks in school or their work space as adults!) Make it fun by putting on their favorite song. Lend them a helping hand and make it a bonding opportunity. Be sure to give them plenty of praise on how nice their room looks when they're done!

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