Raising children isn’t easy. Being responsible for the health and well-being of a human being, as well as the financial responsibility is a lot. Dressing your youngsters is a task that you can show them how to do themselves; it’s a life skill that can grow confidence and independence. Teach your kids how to get dressed by using these tips.
Start naming clothes
As your children age, you’ll notice that they start taking off things that are easy to pull, such as hats and scarves. When you see them doing so, that’s a cue to start naming the garments as they handle the items.
So, if the hat comes off, then say “that’s your hat” and point to it, for example. They’ll start to learn the names of some of their clothes, which will go far toward them dressing on their own soon.
Toddler time: How to get dressed
Often toddlers can complete the basics for putting on and taking off clothes once you show them the basics and do so more than once. Keep in mind the word “basics”; at this age, it’s unrealistic to expect them to have the fine motor skills to button-up shirts all on their own.
A few examples of what you can show toddlers how to do are:
- Put on pants
Only elastic waisted as they’re not ready for zippers yet! Encourage them to sit down as they slide their legs through the pant legs, one at a time.
That way they won’t have to balance on one leg to put on pants. There’s a lot of skill involved in learning how to get dressed independently when you stop to break down the actions.
- Assist with tops
For t-shirts and other tops, help your toddler to put them on. For example, once you put the tee over their head, ask them to push their arms through the sleeves.
- Put on/take off socks
Now is the time to show them how to wear socks. Ensure it’s the right side out and help them at first with bunching it up to get it over the front of the foot and past the heel, then pulling it all the way up.
Encourage your kids at each step
Along each of these steps, provide your little ones with encouragement and positively reinforce their abilities. Tell them when they’re doing great as they help you put on the tutu for their first dance class, for example.
Undressing will likely come easier to your toddler than putting on the outfit. That’s because there’s generally less coordination is involved.
To avoid their becoming frustrated at not being able to do up zippers yet or put on complicated tops, just lay out some of their “easier” clothes to wear. Then they’ll only have those ones to select from for the day ahead.
By age 4
Aha, around this age is when you can encourage your kids to wear more advanced pieces, such as button-up shirts. It’s a big deal for them to be able to button and unbutton it on their own!
They’ll feel so good that they’ve accomplished such a grownup task. To help them get the hang of this useful skill, start with big buttons rather than tiny ones.
It’s easier for them to get a handle on ones large in size, such as those on coats. Also, start with buttons that are brightly colored as they’ll grab your girl or boy’s attention.
Break down the steps, from grabbing the button to pushing it through the hole. Demonstrate the process, from start to end, for your kids. It might be easier to start with them practicing on a shirt laid out on the bed rather than one they’re wearing.
Now’s the time when they can start to master other fasteners too, such as zippers, snaps, and buckles. As with the shirt buttons, start with a visual demonstration for your children and go slow.
Describe each step too as you go through it; this tutorial shows the steps one-by-one for zippers, snaps, string toggles, and more. As you go through each stage, say what you’re doing so your child can follow along.
If they then try on their own but can’t quite follow what it was you did a minute ago, assist them by guiding your hand over theirs. As with the buttons on shirts, start with big fasteners rather than small ones.
Where to go from here
At this point, you’ll likely still have to help your bundle of joy put on their shoes and tie their laces for them. You’ll notice almost right away that your kiddo can’t always tell the right shoe from the left one.
Here’s a creative tip to help them differentiate their left shoe from their right. Put half a sticker inside each shoe, with the left side in the left shoe and the right half in the right shoe so that when the pair is together it looks like the sticker is complete.
It’ll probably take lots of practice for your kids to get the shoe-tying process right. This video shows a method that many experts say works well.
A few final tips on how to dress
While your child advances with their ability to clothe themselves, you’ll likely want to oversee them doing that. Why?
To make sure they wear something warm enough for the cold days of the year, for starters. Also, you wouldn’t want them wearing fleece in summer as they’d overheat so you’ll have to explain to them proper clothing choices through the different seasons.
Layers might be best when it comes to what they’re wearing so that they can always take off or put on items such as hoodies if they’re hot or cold. Look for quality items from reputable kids clothing stores.
Be sure that the clothing is comfortable for them overall and is easy for them to remove to provide convenience for their bathroom visits.