BASIC (02-01)

DI 25225.050 Caring for Yourself (Section 416.926a(k))


In this domain, we consider how well you maintain a healthy emotional and physical state, including how well you get your physical and emotional wants and needs met in appropriate ways; how you cope with stress and changes in your environment; and whether you take care of your own health, possessions, and living area.

  1. Caring for yourself effectively, which includes regulating yourself, depends upon your ability to respond to changes in your emotions and the daily demands of your environment to help yourself and cooperate with others in taking care of your personal needs, health and safety. It is characterized by a sense of independence and competence. The effort to become independent and competent should be observable throughout your childhood.

  2. Caring for yourself effectively means becoming increasingly independent in making and following your own decisions. This entails relying on your own abilities and skills, and displaying consistent judgment about the consequences of caring for yourself. As you mature, using and testing your own judgment helps you develop confidence in your independence and competence. Caring for yourself includes using your independence and competence to meet your physical needs, such as feeding, dressing, toileting, and bathing, appropriately for your age.

  3. Caring for yourself effectively requires you to have a basic understanding of your body, including its normal functioning, and of your physical and emotional needs. To meet these needs successfully, you must employ effective coping strategies, appropriate to your age, to identify and regulate your feelings, thoughts, urges, and intentions. Such strategies are based on taking responsibility for getting your needs met in an appropriate and satisfactory manner.

  4. Caring for yourself means recognizing when you are ill, following recommended treatment, taking medication as prescribed, following safety rules, responding to your circumstances in safe and appropriate ways, making decisions that do not endanger yourself, and knowing when to ask for help from others.


1. Newborns and infants (birth to attainment of age 1)

Your sense of independence and competence begins in being able to recognize your body's signals (e.g., hunger, pain, discomfort), to alert your caregiver to your needs (e.g., by crying), and to console yourself (e.g., by sucking on your hand) until help comes. As you mature, your capacity for self-consolation should expand to include rhythmic behaviors (e.g., rocking). Your need for a sense of competence also emerges in things you try to do for yourself, perhaps before you are ready to do them, as when insisting on putting food in your mouth and refusing your caregiver's help.

2. Older infants and toddlers (age 1 to attainment of age 3)

As you grow, you should be trying to do more things for yourself that increase your sense of independence and competence in your environment. You might console yourself by carrying a favorite blanket with you everywhere. You should be learning to cooperate with your caregivers when they take care of your physical needs, but you should also want to show what you can do; e.g., pointing to the bathroom, pulling off your coat. You should be experimenting with your independence by showing some degree of contrariness (e.g., "No! No!") and identity (e.g., hoarding your toys).

3. Preschool children (age 3 to attainment of age 6)

You should want to take care of many of your physical needs by yourself (e.g., putting on your shoes, getting a snack), and also want to try doing some things that you cannot do fully (e.g., tying your shoes, climbing on a chair to reach something up high, taking a bath). Early in this age range, it may be easy for you to agree to do what your caregiver asks. Later, that may be difficult for you because you want to do things your way or not at all. These changes usually mean that you are more confident about your ideas and what you are able to do. You should also begin to understand how to control behaviors that are not good for you (e.g., crossing the street without an adult).

4. School-age children (age 6 to attainment of age 12)

You should be independent in most day-to-day activities (e.g., dressing yourself, bathing yourself), although you may still need to be reminded sometimes to do these routinely. You should begin to recognize that you are competent in doing some activities and that you have difficulty with others. You should be able to identify those circumstances when you feel good about yourself and when you feel bad. You should begin to develop understanding of