- Practice removing clothes first
- “Play” with buttons and zippers
- Pick a time to practice when you’re not rushed
- Choose clothing that is easier than most
- Provide lots of encouragement when things go well
Independent dressing is one of the many milestones young children must achieve within their lives. The more you do to make this milestone as smooth and easy as possible the better it is for your child, who experiences a great sense of accomplishment over each new skill he or she learns, and for you as this can help you get ready for many events in life much faster.
Roughly one-half of three year-old children struggle with dressing themselves, according to KinderIQ parents:
Let Your Child Practice Removing Clothing First
Before you begin trying to teach your child how to put clothes on, it is easier to teach your child how to remove them. Doing this sets the stage and prepares your child, mentally for the new task of putting them on.
While there are different mechanics involved, your child will begin to understand the mechanics of things like buttons and zippers so he or she will be ready when the time comes. Also, it teaches your child to identify which items go on which part of his or her body.
Ultimately, removing clothing is often done at a time of day when you’re not in a hurry, as well. This means that your child can practice removing his or her clothing at an appropriate pace for his or her needs. The easier this task becomes for your child, the better prepared your child is for moving on to the next one.
Encourage Your Child to Help While You are Dressing Him or Her
The morning routine in any household can be chaotic on good days. Encouraging your child to help with some of his or her dressing is a great way to prepare your child for getting dressed completely on his or her own.
Even little things like putting socks on while you’re making breakfast can be immensely helpful to you while building your child’s confidence that he or she can dress independently.
Keep it Simple
There are many things you can do to simplify the entire process. The easier you make it for children to dress themselves, the earlier they will master the concept. Afterward, you can move on to more advanced concepts in dressing. Keep these things in mind to simplify the process of independent dressing for your child.
- Start on a weekend when you don’t have pressing plans so your child can take his or her time.
- Lay out the clothes you want your child to wear.
- Choose clothing that is easy for your child to put on (elastic pants, pullover shirts, etc.)
- Avoid complex things like buttons, zippers, and similar items.
- Choose clothes that are easy to identify front and back and teach your child how to do it.
- Plan extra time so that you aren’t rushing and your child doesn’t feel rushed. Rushing a new skill like this could lead to frustration and meltdowns by all parties.
- Encourage your child and praise his or her success but be prepared to offer guidance if your child is struggling.
Ultimately, you want your child to find the art of getting dressed by him or herself to be one that is rewarding and fun. Make it an adventure. They’ve watched you do it to them hundreds of times. Be patient as they put the things you’ve taught them into practice.
Some children are reluctant to dress themselves. There are things you can do to address this problem, like asking them to help you do it (young children love being helpful); allowing them to pick out their clothes (it may result in interesting combinations and clashing colors, but your child will love it); or offering copious praise or other rewards when your child dresses him or herself for the day.
The big thing for parents to remember is that this is a big deal for your child. Reward it in kind with praise and encouragement for each new learned skill. If your child doesn’t succeed on the first attempt, keep trying on different days until he or she succeeds (another important lesson for your child to learn at an early age).