Self-help skills make both your and your child’s life easier. As a parent, you can combine teaching, learning, and fun to help your child develop these skills.

Let’s take getting dressed as a first example. Providing oversized dress-up clothes with zippers, buttons, buckles, and snaps allows your child to practice getting dressed with clothes that are easy to put on and take off. You can also create a make-believe shoe store with old shoes and boots, some with shoelaces. Then take turns being the store salesperson and the customer as you practice putting them on, taking them off, and tying those shoelaces.

Another self-help skill that can help your child develop can be learned at bath time. A tub full of toys, scrubbers, washcloths, and animal-shaped soaps can make the experience more enjoyable and engaging for your child. You can also help your child learn to safely fill the tub by including him or her in regulating the water temperature as the tub fills. A large, soft bath towel is an inviting end to bath time.

Grooming skills can be developed by playing beauty shop or barber shop. Gather the tools typically used in your home—combs, brushes, barrettes, bobby pins, ribbons, elastic bands, mirrors, styling gel, and so forth. Then take turns pretending to be the customer and the stylist. Alternately, if products such as gels are not used, you and your child can both be the stylists of dolls or stuffed animals. For personal grooming, it can be helpful to keep some sort of stool handy, so your child can see himself or herself in the bathroom mirror. Also, having available a kid-sized, large-handled toothbrush in a container within easy reach encourages your child to develop the ability to brush his or her teeth independently.

Have fun with children as they learn to take care of themselves. It’s easier on everyone if the process can be enjoyed.