Learning independent living skills are important for young people who are making the step towards adulthood. Even from an early age on, children with or without disabilities gain an advantage when learning to take on responsibility for themselves. By being a role model and teaching them in areas of personal hygiene, how to dress appropriately, taking care of one’s health by cooking, eating healthily and overall proper nutrition, is important.
Supporting your young person in developing their skills in taking care of their new home or living place, their financial management as well as personal growth, awareness and problem solving, will help them create a solid foundation for their own lives. Sometimes it can be easier said than done. That’s why it is important to create a support network so that when needed others can be reached out to for help. A community that is there to help your child answer any additional questions or give feedback can have a very positive impact when they step into an independent life.
Here are several ways how you as a parent can support your child when developing independent living skills:
Open communication is important to strengthen the bond between you and your child. Use a normal tone of voice, be polite and patient and try not to rush conversations. When you speak directly to the young person, ask the person what will help with communication to assist in finding a strategy that works for both of you.
Safety can be a big concern when young people with disabilities become more independent. Showing them skills for how to use public transportation, learning pedestrian rules and traffic signs amongst others are all good skills. That can entail looking both ways, reading the walk/don’t walk signals, crossing at the crosswalks and others, so they can become familiar when going their own ways.
Talk about how to communicate with others and introduce personal safety skills. Such staying away from dark, isolated places, being careful and asking owners before touching their pets, is helpful. Let them repeat what has been discussed to see if the young person understood the points.
Consider making a checklist of activities to help your child keep track of what to do and post it in the different areas of the home. This can include items such as showering, washing face, putting on deodorant and brushing hair or doing laundry. As for leisure skills, help them turn their interests into age appropriate recreational activities. Support them in getting involved with the community to find ways to participate.
Work on household skills. Get them involved in family routines to convey useful skills they can take with them, as they grow more mature. Break down large tasks into smaller steps. As for learning financial management, online courses and meeting with advisers are great ways to get to know more about money skills.
Focusing on your child’s strengths, skills and interests you can help them successfully manage the skills needed to transition into adulthood.