Teaching your little one to get dressed all by themselves builds confidence and independence. Not an easy task for a little one but in time; your tot will pick it up and, it'll give them a sense of achievement. The key is patience, repetition and encouragement even if followed by many failed attempts. Aside from independence and confidence, it also gives your little one the chance to be responsible and to have some fun with the outfits they mix and match. Easier said than done but fret not, we've got some great tips on empowering your little one to dress all by themselves.
Learning how to dress independently helps little ones develop many other essential skills, such as:
- Fine motor skills - As your little one learns to fasten buttons and zips
- Gross motor skills - When your tot has to stand on one leg to pull on a pair of pants
- Cognitive skills - As your precious one remembers which bits of clothing go on first, whilst also building the patience and attention to finish the task
- Language - By learning the names of clothes, colours and sizes
- Awareness of space and time - As they learn to dress for different occasions and weather conditions
Step By Step
Once we've learned to dress, the steps remain in our subconscious memory but, for little ones, it's important to go through each step in detail. Break down the steps in a way they can comprehend and remember:
- Underwear always goes on first
- Then pants - Make sure the pants are not inside out and faced the right way round. Hold onto the waistband, get one leg into the hole while still holding onto the pants. Lower the pants and push the other leg into the hole. With both hands, pull up the pants to the waist.
- Shirt on - Beginning with their head through the hole, followed by arms pushed through each armhole.
- Socks and shoes - Have them sit down as they put their socks and shoes on.
Talk through the process with your little one, they may need help especially when they can't get their arms through the sleeves but let them figure it out independently before lending them a hand. To make dressing up fun and less of a chore, turn the steps into a song or rhyme they can easily learn and repeat. Go through the steps once in a while and ask them questions like, 'what is the first thing you put on?’
Be An Example
Get dressed alongside your little one; it may make dressing up a lengthy process but, it's all part of the learning process. Children learn better and quicker when there is a role model to follow and who better than from their own parents. It may be overwhelming for them trying to keep up with your speed so, slow down the process, and make sure the both of you progress into the next step together. Remember to throw in a 'good job bud' now and then with each accomplished step; remind them that 'it's alright, great try' if their attempt is unsuccessful, give them a pat on the back and help them with the step.
An Easy Start
Begin the lesson with clothes that are easier to put on and take off. Pants that are loose with an elastic band at the waist such as sweats are ideal as compared to a pair of jeans. T-shirts are a lot simpler to put on than shirts with buttons, start with clothes that are easier to wear. Once your little one has t-shirts and sweats in the bag, progress to clothes that require a tad bit of work - snaps, zips and buttons.
Sit Down While Dressing
With dressing being an uphill battle of a task for little ones, they may patently get impatient and give up which is why it’s best to have them sitting down and relaxed.
Practice Makes Perfect
Even with endless failed attempts, keep at it and motivate your little one. Practice with your little one when both of you aren't in a rush, your little one will feel less pressure that way. Have them practice on their toys, dressing and undressing figurines or stuffed toys will give them a little insight into dressing up.
Distinguish Between Front & Back
Teach your little one to distinguish the back and front of clothing items with signs they can look out for - tags are easy to pinpoint. Have your little ones recognize that wherever they find the tag, it means that it's the back of the clothing item.