Teaching your child how to dress themselves is one of those things that sound easy but are actually quite hard to pull off. Kinda like learning how to ride a bike as an adult, or if you are like me, getting your driver's license. Took me three tries for that one!
It a very valuable skill to have under their belt, though, so you're going to have to show them how to do it eventually. Once your little one learns how to dress, it'll take one thing off your daily task list and give them a chance to be responsible and independent in choosing what they wear. It also just gives them a sense of achievement knowing that they did it all on their own. Besides, the precious smile of their cute little faces when they do it all on their own is its own reward, isn't it?
That said, expect some challenges as you teach your child how to dress themselves. That's why in this article, I share hints, tips, and tricks to make this journey smoother and easier for you.
Why should you teach your child how to get dressed on their own?
Aside from saving you the hassle of doing it when you are overwhelmed or running on a tight schedule, there are a lot of other benefits to teaching your child how to get dressed on their own. Here are the developmental benefits children get when they learn to get dressed on their own:
- It helps build your child's fine motor skills as they button their clothes and fasten the zips.
- It boosts their gross motor skills as they use the larger muscle groups in their bodies. Something as simple as standing on one foot to pull up their pants can have huge benefits for them.
- It improves their cognitive skills. They'll need to remember the order in which clothes are worn and stay keen until they are done.
- It helps develop their language skills as they learn the different types of clothes and their colors.
When can my child learn to dress?
The rate of your child’s growth and coordination will affect how much they can do for themselves when it comes to getting dressed. Here are some general stages of what your little one should be able to by age:
- 1 year: At this age, your child can take off both their shoes and socks. They may also offer a little assistance as you dress them because they can push their arms and legs through the clothes while you hold them in place.
- 2 years: If you leave them with an unzipped sweater or untied shoes, your child can take it off if they want to. Also, while undressing them, they will help push down their pants. They will also be able to find the armholes in their shirts.
- 2.5 years: Your toddler can now put on a shirt or a sweater but they might have a hard time buttoning it. They can also try to put socks on by themselves. When it comes to taking things off, they can take off pants that have an elastic waistband and unbutton larger buttons.
- 3 years: At this age, your child is usually able to put on their T-shirts and pants with little help. They can also put on their shoes without tying the laces and sometimes, they'll wear them on the wrong feet. They can also work the zippers but they will need some help at the base, and they can take off T-shirts and button large buttons.
- 4 years: Your child is getting to know more and more about clothes. By now they can tell the front from the back. They can also put on socks, connect zippers and use them, and buckle shoes and belts. They will still need a little help putting on and tying shoes.
- 5 years: By now, your child can get dressed with minimal to no help from you and they can put on their clothes correctly each time. You will only get called when it’s time to lace up the shoes.
Tips to help teach your child get dressed easily
Here are a few tips you can use to make this learning experience less stressful for both you and the little one:
1. Choose the outfits
Choose items that are more accessible and less likely to frustrate you as you teach your child. Pick out shirts and T-shirts with larger holes that they can easily pass their arms through. They can also grow into these, getting you more mileage out of them.
Also, go for sweatpants and pants with elastic waistbands rather than jeans. With time, you can move on to snap buttons and then to conventional buttons. Remember to offer them limited options if you are letting them choose what they’re going to wear.
2. Be seated
Make sure they are sitting down as they put on bottoms. By sitting down, their attention is less focused on balancing and more directed to actually wearing the clothes. They can sit on the bed, the floor, or on a step stool.
3. Take your time
When you choose to teach your child how to get dressed, ensure you are not in a hurry to be somewhere else. Trying to rush things will only put more pressure on them. Also, make sure your little one is not tired, sleepy, or hungry as they might find the learning process frustrating.
4. Break it down
You can make things a little easier if you break the whole process down into smaller steps. For example, if you're putting on shorts, you could break that down into facing them the right way, holding the waistband, pushing one leg through the hole, and the next, then pulling the shorts up.
5. Teach them backward
It is much easier to take clothes off than it is to put them on. You can start by teaching your child how to get undressed. Let them do it on their own when you have no pending plans and your schedule is not tight.
6. Use your words
As you help your child get dressed and as they take off their clothes, always mention the type of clothes being taken off and the part of the body associated with them. This will help build their awareness and language skills.
Also, use short simple statements to guide the child. It will also help to teach your child the orientation of the clothes. Show them the front, back, armholes, and leg holes.
So there you have it. These are the clothing hints that I personally used to help my now 3-year-old learn how to dress when he was 2. Tried and tested, you will be sure to find a lot of success with your own toddler when you implement them. Good luck!