What is the right age for my child to start self-care? That is, to start washing and dressing on his own, to eat on his own, to pick up his/her toys?
We all have children who know that achieving these simple steps to independence is not an easy process.
In our eyes, our baby is always this sweet, defenseless creature that needs our constant help to survive.
Especially as new parents, it seems impossible and scary to imagine how he/she can reach a time when they can do chores on their own. The risk to its safety seems great.
Our baby’s absolute dependence on mom or dad, however, also feeds our narcissism. In order to help your child to make some independent steps, you have to persuade yourself that the child is able to and will make it.
The Montessori school advocates that the process should begin from the first year of life! For example, babies can start eating on their own from the age of eight months and can wear shoes without laces from the age of 12-15 months! Somewhere at this age, they will show interest in themselves to wear their shoes, socks, pants, and t-shirts. Arm yourself with a lot of patience, show them the steps, and do not rush to dress them yourself when they are slow! Only when you see that they are upset that they can not achieve, you can help a little. Remember, the goal is to get the satisfaction that they did it on their own!
An activity that can also be started at this age of about 15 months, is hand washing.
Playing with water is a favorite of little ones and is a great opportunity to start washing their hands on their own.
Place a stool in front of the sink so that they reach the tap and show them how to do it by washing your own hands and the little one together. Do you have a bottle with a pump or a small bar of soap that they can hold in their hands? Continue with rinsing and wiping. Next time, just supervise, without intervening, except to prevent accidents, falls, or very hot water, etc.
In general, you should be armed with patience and prepare for several accidents before your little ones can perfect their technique. Many times water will be thrown out of the sink and you should calmly and without nerves collect it.
If you make the mistake of getting upset because the result was not perfect, it will simply be an unpleasant experience for your child and they will avoid trying again.
At the age of 2, you can encourage them to rub their hands and feet with a sponge dipped in shower gel and to use a shampoo that does not sting the eyes. Of course, you will be present to supervise safety and make sure they get a good rinse.
Little by little they will perfect their technique and will surprise you with their skills!