Teach Kids to Do for Themselves

July 12, 2023

Teach Kids to Do for Themselves



Sometimes difficult behavior happens because children can’t do what you expect. This means that new skills can help with difficult behavior. 


Teaching kids with motor-skills challenges and/or ADHD to tie their shoes, get dressed, or take a bath takes creativity, lots of patience, and, especially, a sense of humor. A parent can try using oral instructions, writing down the steps on poster board in colorful ink, or drawing pictures to show how to do the task.  


When you teach your young child how to count or say the alphabet, you start at the beginning. The same holds true for skills such as putting on socks and pants, taking a bath, and tying shoes. Parents break the skill into smaller steps and chain those steps together, from first to last. This process sounds logical enough, so why do so many of our kids struggle? 


First, some kids get discouraged, because it takes so long to master all of the steps to achieve success. Second, children forget the sequence of steps and get anxious over completing the next one. This anxiety frustrates some children and lowers their self-esteem. Some just give up. 


The idea of step-by-step teaching is to teach the steps that make up a skill one at a time. When your child has learned the first step, then you teach the next step, then the next, and so on. Move to the next step only when your child can do the previous step reliably and without your help. You keep going until your child can do the whole task for himself. 


If the task is complicated, show the first part of the task and give your child a chance to practice. Then move onto the next bit. Start with the easiest parts if you can.