How to Teach Your Child to Get Dressed

Young children love learning new things. Teaching them to get dressed is a great way to help them develop extra skills and saving time in the morning. Children can start learning simple dressing skills from as early as two three years of age. Use this guide for some practical ideas for guiding your child along the way.

Teaching your child to dress themselves requires some patience and providing lots of opportunities for practice. Start out with some basic childrens clothing pieces, such as elastic-waisted pants and cloths with Velcro or larger buttons.

  • Set aside some extra time every morning to take your child through the steps;
  • Have your child pick out their favourite boy’s or girls clothes for the day to encourage involvement in the process; and
  • Where possible use clothes that are comfortable and simple for your child to move around in.

Teaching children to dress can help them develop their motor, cognitive, and language skills. It can also encourage self-reliance.

In many cases very young children will have already become aware of their clothes. They may sometimes try to pull them off, or try and remove them. Parents can leverage this growing awareness in their children to teach them about different types of clothing. If you notice your child fiddling with their clothes, you can use the opportunity to teach them terms such as t-shirt, jacket, pant, skirt, and so on.

Building on the Basics

Learning to get dressed can involve a lot of individual steps which can be confusing for little ones.

  • The best way to approach it is by breaking up the process into small steps. For example, putting on the t-shirt will involve turning the t-shirt the right way, finding the bottom opening, putting one’s head through first, then one arm after the other.
  • Verbalise each stage as you take your child through the process. This will help them remember each step and learn new words along the way.
  • For very young children, it may be a good idea to just let them take care of one or two steps at first, then gradually introduce more steps until they can do it all by themselves.

Making it Fun

Making the process fun and interesting is a good way to ensure cooperation and help your little one maintain interest. These tips can prove useful during the process:

  • Be encouraging and positive, and use plenty of praise.
  • It’s useful to also guide them to differentiate between dirty and clean clothing at some stage.
  • Be realistic about the amount of time required for getting dressed. Some children will need 20 minutes while others might be able to get ready in 10 minutes. Set aside plenty of time on days when you aren’t rushed for time.
  • Encourage your little one to check the weather before choosing their clothes for the day. Teach your child to choose appropriate clothing for the weather.
  • Storing at least some of their everyday clothing at their eye level will make it easier for them to choose their clothing. You can consider labelling clothing drawers with simple, colourful illustrations to keep your child involved.

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