Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Littles Learning Link Up: Guest Post: Teaching Toddlers Self-Help Skills (Includes Free Printable)

 Each month you will find:
  • A seasonal round-up (toward the beginning of the month)
  • A guest post featuring crafts, activities, tips, snack ideas or other early childhood topics. (toward the end of the month)
  • Posts where I share what I have been up to with my preschoolers and/or early elementary children (including occasional highlight posts where I share how we used ideas that have been linked up here on Littles Learning Link Up).
Each week, I will host a link up, where you can share either what you have been up to recently, or old posts that may go with the theme.  Feel free to link up more than one post.

Each week I will continue to feature a couple of posts from those that have been linked up. 

I hope you will continue to share your wonderful posts, and I hope you will find something new to try with your child.

It would be great for everyone to stop by and visit the other linked-up posts as well. Check them out, leave some comments, pin those that interest you. Let's make this a real party and socialize with each other.

It is time for this month's Guest Post:

Today I would like to introduce you to Amanda from Sicily's Heart and Home.

Amanda is the founder of Sicily’s Heart and Home where she helps mamas educate their youngest learners and plan a home education environment for toddlers and preschoolers. She has an 18-month old daughter and another little one due in February. Amanda is a former public education teacher with experience working with infants up to 5 th grade. You can follow Amanda in her Facebook groupInstagram, and Pinterest. She also offers a monthly Print and Play calendar with simple play activities every day of the week.

My daughter, Sicily (18 months), is very self-sufficient. I started teaching her how to be independent and using her self-help skills from a very early age. Today I wanted to share with you some of things we did to help Sicily with her self-help skills and tips for you to use as well.

Start Early

The best tip I can give is to start early. The later you start with self-help skills the more difficult it will be to break them out of the habit of relying on you for everything. As soon as Sicily was able to hold a paper towel, I expected her to help clean up her own messes. At first, she didn’t even hit the mess with the towel, but that’s not really the point. When first starting a new self-help skill, the point is to get them to help whether is actually helps or not. I praised her for just grabbing the towel and rubbing the floor.

Another self-help skill that I started early was throwing things in the trash. As soon as Sicily was able to walk steadily, I expected her to throw away her own trash and diapers. She actually really enjoys throwing away her trash and will purposefully find “trash” on the floor to throw away.


Praise your child for trying, even if they don’t exactly get it right. Praise is through words of encouragement, not rewards. Do not offer stickers, money, or candy for completing a task that is expected of them.

Rewards create a sense of completing a task just for a reward. Through self-help skills, you want to create a sense of accomplishment and a desire to do tasks for themselves. To nurture these feelings, you need to offer praise. We do lots of high fives at our house. Phrases such as “You are such a big girl,” “That was super helpful,” and “Thank you” really do give kids that boost they need to help them complete the task again in the future.

I believe that once you even start with rewards, you will have to continue with rewards because your child will expect it. So don’t even start them.

Be Consistent

Every child needs consistency in everything they do. Whether you are teaching a concept or creating a routine. If you expect your child to throw away his own trash, then you need to expect if every time. When we are consistent with self-help skills, we are teaching our children to be responsible. Eventually, they will do these tasks without having to be reminded, as long as you are consistent.

A fair warning, they will try the “I can’t” card on you multiple times. It’s a trap, and you can’t give in. Let them know that you believe in them and expect them to complete the task. Simple phrases such as “I know you can do this” and “You are capable of cleaning up this mess” are great ways to get over the “I can’t” trap.

Provide Visuals

When just starting out with self-help skills, we want to foster independence and responsibility. Young children perform best when given visuals to follow. I created this little chart for Sicily to follow for her morning and night routines.

First, you want to teach all these self-help skills independently before creating the chart. Your child needs to know how to do the skill before becoming responsible for the skill. Once they are proficient or can complete it will minimal help, then you can add the chart to help with responsibility.

I made two charts, one for her morning routine and one for her night time routine. I placed them on her bedroom door using Velcro. I wanted the charts to be removable for when she stayed at someone else’s house, like her grandmother’s or fathers.

Making the Chart
  1. You can download the picture cues by clicking on this link. Use the ones that pertain to your routines.
  2. Next, I cut  file folder in half and used the bottom half for the chart. I cut it into the number of sections (tasks) I needed.
  3. Glue the picture on the inside of the folder and add Velcro to the top of each picture to keep the flap up.
  4. On the outside of each flap, write the word DONE.
  5. Before each routine, I open the folder and we go over each task. Then as Sicily completes each task, she closes the flap to let me know that she is done. 

Self-Help Skills

These are the skills toddlers and preschoolers should be working on. Remember to start teaching these skills as soon as they are capable.

-Throwing trash away

-Getting dressed (This is a slow process. Getting dress requires some skill. Right now I expect her to pull the shirt over her head and put her arms through. We are working on getting our legs into the holes.)

-Helping you wash themselves in the bath (I let Sicily start, and I finish by getting the areas she can’t reach)

-Cleaning up messes

-Putting dirty clothes in the hamper

-Drink from a regular cup

-Set their place at the table

-Use silverware

-Brush hair and teeth (Again, Sicily starts and I finish)

-Clean up toys

I would love to hear what self-help skills you are working on with your toddlers. Please share in the comments below.

If you would like to guest post on Littles Learning Link Up, please contact me via email. My email address can be found on my About Me page. I am scheduling posts for the next several months and would love to include yours. I ask that the guest posts focus on subjects relevant for young children (toddler through early elementary). This could be crafts, activities, recipes, or various tips and advice. I am always open to suggestions. Details will be emailed to those who are interested.

Now Onto:

Littles Learning Link Up Features

On my last Littles Learning Link Up post, there were 8 wonderful posts linked up. I will be picking one randomly selected post to share, plus the top clicked-on posts.  

Don't forget to stop by other posts that are linked up. See what catches your eye, stop by, pin the post to a relevant board, and perhaps leave a comment to let the author of the blog know you have been by for a visit. I know I appreciate others commenting and letting me know they have read my posts, so I am sure others do too.

This week's randomly selected post is:

Lisa from Syncopated Mama shared 5 After 5, Top Tips to Stay Cool In the Summer Heat.

And here are this week's most clicked on posts:

Strength in Words shared DIY "Special Space" Parachute.

Join the Party!

I would love to have you join in this week! What sort of activities do you do with your young children? Do you have some favorite activities you would like to share? I invite you to link up below. I will be pinning posts on my Toddler Ideas or other relevant board, and I would love to feature some of the activities each week from what is linked up.

Please know I may share a picture from your post and link back to it, along with sharing how we used your idea in our school time. By linking up you are giving me permission to use a picture from your post. I will ALWAYS give credit and link back. Additionally, if you choose to try out any of the ideas with your child, please make sure you give credit where credit is due.

Linky will be open through Sunday night, to give me time to check out all the posts and get the Features organized. Please take the time to visit some of the other wonderful posts linked up.



  1. I love this idea. Every parent should raise a self-sufficient child. That way they will be able to function on their own.

  2. Great tips! Thanks for sharing. Have a terrific week.


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