Self-help skills for children can take a number of different forms. Unlike self-help for adults, this term is typically used to mean basic life skills when applied to children. Even so, there has been a rise in books that promote self-help skills for children that more closely resemble those for adults. These additional skills might include self-control, positive thinking, or even organizational habits. Any skill that will help a child succeed in life can be placed in this category, and which skills are required may be different in different cultures.
Some of the most common skills for children focus on developing independence. Learning how to feed, dress, and clean up after oneself are all important skills children should learn. The understanding that these tasks must be performed on a daily basis may take longer to develop, but the basic physical coordination to complete these tasks can be conditioned at an early age. It is generally understood that children of different ages are suited to different self-help skills of this type, but also that all children progress at different paces.
Basic self-help skills can also include knowing when to ask for help. Teaching self-help skills should involve promoting independence, but sometimes asking for help can be considered a skill of this type. For example, children who are not yet entirely toilet trained can be taught to ask for the toilet. When children know that a skill will be required of them in the future, it often makes it much easier to transition into independent responsibility for that skill.
There are also self-help skills for children that do not relate to basic life tasks. These are similar to adult self-help skills and focus primarily on improving the child's attitude and life. Specifically for children, learning how to maintain positive self-esteem and body image are very important. While imposing diets on children is often considered controversial, there are also books about dieting and exercise intended to help children improve themselves. Whether these skills are appropriate for children is something parents must consider in order to protect the child's well-being.
It is important to note that not all children progress at the same speed and that in some cases it may be seen as inappropriate for children to learn certain skills. There are cultures in which children do not learn to dress themselves until they are older, and there are cultures in which only children of one gender learn certain skills. In most cases, it is less important when a child learns these skills than it is that the child becomes a fully socialized human being in his or her own culture.