Teaching your child how to get dressed

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If your little one is around the age of two, you might consider starting to work on those dress-up skills. This might seem like a mission impossible right now, but do not worry; everything seems impossible until it is done. Just think about all the benefits both you and your child will have once this task is learned! 

Of course, this skill is not something you can teach your child overnight, and of course, you will still be buttoning those colorful buttons and lacing up those small shoes for years to come. But, the sooner you start teaching your child how to get dressed, the better! 

Thus, without further ado, here are some fun, interesting and productive tips and tricks you can use to teach your child how to get dressed. 

Why Is It Important to Teach Your Child How to Get Dressed? 

Teaching your child how to walk and talk, and even teaching your child how to put away toys, brings an immense sense of achievement – something that young children crave. But, not only that, by learning a new task, your child will feel more confident and independent! The same applies to teaching your child how to get dressed. 

Moreover, getting dressed can also help develop some new skills too. For instance, by learning how to get dressed, your child will get a hold of the following skills: 

Mother putting a hat on her daughter
Photo by Katie E on Pexels
  • gross motor skills – when standing on one leg to put trousers on.
  • fine motor skills – when fastening buttons and zipping zippers.
  • cognitive skills – when learning and understanding which clothing items go first.
  • language skills – when learning the names of each clothing item. 
  • awareness of time and place – when dressing for events and other occasions and various weather conditions.
  • Knowing how to get dressed is beneficial for both you and your child!

Getting Started 

When you think about it, getting dressed is an effortless task for adults. But, how can an adult explain this process to a young child? That is, how does a parent start teaching this new skill to a child? It is simple; just like there are effective reading tips and tricks, there are also practical tips and tricks for teaching your child how to get dressed. 

The first thing you should do is teach your child names of the clothing items he/she usually wears. Do that by naming the clothes as you put them on and off. Once you see that your child understands which clothing item is which, it would be good to have some clothing items close by. But, those should not be any clothing items, but, for instance:

  • Clothes with large buttons and large buttonholes 
  • Clothes that have pictures on them so that your child knows what is back and what front
  • Comfortable clothes 
  • Loose and elastic clothes. 

Breaking Down the Steps 

Believe it or not, but getting dressed has a lot of steps. So, it will help a lot if you could break it down into smaller steps when learning a new skill like this one. For instance, one day, you can work on putting on the underwear, the following day, you can work on putting on the shorts, and so on. 

One of my favorite books, Oliver West it is Time To Get Dressed, is a great tool to breaking down the steps and encouraging both reading and independence.

Moreover, if your child is really young, you can even break one step, like putting on shorts, into smaller steps. Here is how: 

Girl in yellow dress covering her face with her hands
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels
  • First, make sure to face the shorts the right way
  • Then, hold the shorts in front of you, holding them onto the front of the waistband 
  • Push one leg at the time
  • Finally, pull the shorts up. 

If the shorts have zippers and buttons, you may want to leave that lesson for some other day. It would also be a good idea to use your child’s favorite clothing items or introduce some new, fun ones. For instance, t-shirts with witty prints are a hit for older children, while toddlers love colorful prints. 

Do your best to make teaching this skill as fun as possible to your child.

Be Patient and Helpful 

No matter what skill you are trying to teach your child, it is necessary to be patient. Give time not only to your child but also to yourself. This is important so that you do not lose your patience. Here is how to do that: 

  • Understand that learning a new skill takes time
  • Always practice getting dressed when you are not in a hurry
  • If you are in a hurry and still want to practice the skill, let your child do the easy tasks (like putting on the shorts), and you do the more complex tasks (like butting the shorts). 
Father and daughter playing.
Father and daughter playing. 

Moreover, remember always to be positive and supportive! Even if your child puts the T-shirt backward, praise him/her. Make learning this skill a fun event for everybody. Allow your children to be around clothes and play with them. It does not have to be his/her clothes either; you can allow your child to be around your clothes while you are refreshing your spring wardrobe or decluttering, for example. 

Dressing up can easily turn into a fun event as long as you stay patient and helpful.

Make It Easier 

If you notice that your child has difficulties getting dressed, try to make the whole process easier. You can do that by breaking each step into even smaller steps. Or, try to teach your child to undress first. All moms say that undressing was a lot easier for their children, so why not start there? 

Moreover, you can make teaching your child how to get dressed even easier by storing the clothes in easily-reachable places. Trust us; your child will take the clothes by him/herself one day. You can also label the back and the front of the clothes, or even the left and right shoes. Do as much as you can to make this task easy. And, even if your child has difficulties, remember, give lots of praise and support!

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  • Mary is a dog-loving person working as a team lead content writer for clients in various industries. Working as a freelancer for 10+ years has enabled her to explore and cover a variety of topics, master her communication skills as well as develop a unique writing style. She works continuously with training teams tasked to generate content strategy and tools to help enhance SEO performance.

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