At what age and what self-care skills should a child have?

Begüm Gamiş, Research Assistant of Child Development Department, made an assessment of self-care development in early childhood. Stating that self-care skills are daily tasks undertaken for children to be ready to participate in daily life activities (including dressing, undressing, eating, mouth and teeth cleaning, toilet habit), Begüm Gamiş said, “These skills are met by their parents or caregivers since the child is born. It is expected that the child will be able to perform these skills independently as soon as the child reaches physical maturity. ” said.

Noting that the skills that are expected to be acquired in self-care development, as in all developmental areas, differ with the developmental levels of children and these skills follow a complementary sequence, Begüm Gamiş said, “The important thing is to be aware of the development level of the child and to support the child in gaining the skills he can do in critical periods.” he spoke.


Gamiş gave the following information about self-care skills seen by age:

3 years

– Washing hands (but it still needs time to gain the ability to dry. Therefore, support should be provided when necessary in the drying part)

– Ability to eat with the help of a fork and spoon (it is important to choose tools that will not cause any accident)

– Ability to wear your own clothes without assistance (flexible clothes should be preferred for starters)

– Ability to close zipper with support.

4-5 years

– Ability to wash your hands and face

– To be able to button and unfasten large buttons on your own clothing (the size of the buttons is important in this skill; it will take up to 6 years of age for the skill to fully fit)

– To be able to use the right tools and equipment while eating

– Being able to help set the table with the help of verbal clue

– Ability to brush your teeth

– Being able to dress without help

– Ability to hang your clothes on a hanger (necessary support materials can be used to grow your height)

6 years

– Ability to wash your hands and face dry (help may be needed while washing other parts of the body)

– To be able to brush his teeth properly

– Being able to dress and undress without assistance in accordance with the weather conditions

– To be able to tie the laces on your shoes

– To be able to comb his hair properly

– Ability to cut soft food with a knife (especially important to create opportunities for this)

– Ability to buy food from the serving plate as many as he wants and prepare his own food

– Being able to take responsibility for one of the daily tasks, such as helping to prepare the sofas


Research Assistant Begüm Gamiş listed her recommendations for parents and caregivers for the acquisition of self-care skills as follows:

1. Observe: Observe whether your child is physiologically and socio-emotionally prepared so that he can dig the skills at the critical time. Never force the child in this regard.

2. Take your time, do not rush: Remember that development is a process. Therefore, give the child time to see, practice, and examine every skill; Do not rush. Be patient and compassionate by planning the appropriate time and space.

3. Follow a sequence from simple to complex: Start building skills with simple steps appropriate for the child’s level, keeping in mind that self-care skills follow a complementary sequence.

4. Allow children to experience and express their feelings: Expression of emotions is one of the important steps in gaining healthy skills. Have lots of conversation for children to express their feelings, for example encourage the child to express. Do not ignore the emotions that the child expresses in some way, do not make fun of them.

5. Allow the skill to experiment, to examine: Let him examine his feces, especially in gaining his toilet habit. It is very common for a child not to want to leave the stool, which he initially sees as a part of himself. Take time for him to say goodbye to his feces on this matter. Similarly, in the acquisition of the ability to eat, allow the child to touch, smell and taste food.

6. Make a model: Answer all the questions in the child’s mind and be a model in the acquisition of skills. Allow time for the child to observe and imitate you.

7.Support when needed: Since self-care skills are one of the most important steps for the child to gain independence, be supported in skill acquisition only when the child needs it. Make sure to inform the child that you do not leave him alone and that you can help whenever he wants.

8. Make use of materials that facilitate skill acquisition: With different materials for each skill, it is important to facilitate the acquisition of the skill by the child and to make the process enjoyable. For example, various books, toys, songs, etc. Consider the age, developmental level and interests of the child when choosing these facilitators.

9. Don’t compare: As every child is unique, the development of every child is also unique. Do not compare with other children without ignoring individual differences.

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