Many people struggle with getting their little ones dressed up and are often running after their kids for every piece of clothing.
As parents, we would love nothing more than an independent dresser. But while juggling between tweaking our kids’ other habits such as sleeping and self eating - we forget to encourage them to dress by themselves too.
Once toddlers learn to dress themselves, it takes a lot of work load off parents’ shoulders. However, this ambitious process is easier said than done.
Why is it essential that your kid learns to get dressed himself?
- Your child can jumpstart on fine motor skills while managing shoelaces and zippers.
- Pulling a pair of pants while standing on one leg will help improve his gross motor skills.
- When your child learns which piece of clothing goes first, it boosts his cognitive development.
It might get frustrating for you to watch your child take a long time trying to learn how to wear shoes or socks, but you must remember that it builds confidence in them and brings a sense of achievement. Even though it differs from one child to another, toddlers as young as two and a half years old can learn to wear clothes by themselves without much trouble. Here are some tips for parents that will help them teach their kids to dress independently.
Tips for parents to teach kids to dress themselves:
1) Teach the last step first:
One of the most practical tips for parents is to start easy. Removing clothes is easier than putting them on, so begin with that first. Once kids learn how to take off their clothes, they will begin to feel more confident in their ability to put them back on too. Taking one step at a time, start teaching them to pull the trousers up from the bottom. Compliment your child when they finish each step of the task, as it will encourage them and give them a sense of achievement.
2) Easy Shoes:
Start the process of teaching kids to dress by themselves with shoes. Get shoes with velcro straps or get easy slip-on, stretchable shoes. Give your child a demonstration on how to wear shoes by showing them how toes go in first, followed by the heel. Be patient and encourage your child to wear shoes by themselves even if they take a long time to do it.
3) Dress up with them:
Children imitate their parents, even if they don't listen to them. Having a clear reference on how-to-do tasks will always help your child to learn faster. Also, just as having a gym companion encourages us to go to the gym, having a companion to learn to dress up will encourage your children to dress up by themselves.
4) Start with easy clothes:
Instead of choosing jeans or jackets, choose clothes like loose t-shirts or shorts which will make the task easier for children to complete. Using extra large clothes will make sure that your child learns the task without making a fuss in the beginning. If they have a favourite piece of clothing, encourage them to wear it multiple times a week.
5) Sit down:
Here is an important step in the guide to help learn kids' dress themselves. Encourage your child to sit down while learning to wear pants or learning to wear shoes or socks, as it will ease the task for them.
6) Differentiate between front and back:
Bring as much clarity as possible to your child regarding the clothes that they're going to wear. Teach them how to recognize the clear signs to distinguish between the front and back of their clothes by pointing out that the tag of the cloth is always on the back & that buttons are usually on the front.
7) Let them button up their shirts:
You must encourage your child to button their shirts, especially if you have an older kid. There will be a lot of silly mistakes and errors, in the beginning, however, the payoff will be worth it.
8) Lay Out the Clothes:
To avoid confusion, lay out the clothes in front of your child according to the correct order. Do not pick too many options, as that will confuse the child.
9) Add visual dressing cards to verbal commands:
A visual dressing card such as a picture showing each stage of dressing will boost your child's photographic memory skills. You can either use a dressing card or draw pictures in a book, as only verbal commands might get overwhelming for your little ones to follow.
10) Practice when you're at home:
This task is not easy and demands time as well as patience. Hence, we'd recommend you teach your child to dress by themselves when you don't have to go anywhere. You can't let them take a long time to dress up when you want to go somewhere. Practice on a day when there is no pressure on either of you.
Clothing pieces to encourage self-dressing in kids:
Kids prefer clothes that allow movement and play. T-shirts & tops made of cotton or Tencel fabrics will work the best as they are more absorbent and prevent itchiness.
To encourage self-dressing in kids, demonstrate the following steps to them:
- Take a loose-fitting t-shirt and put it over your child's head, keeping only eyes and hair visible.
- Tell your child to pull the t-shirt down to his shoulder level.
- Guide their hands through one of the sleeves. Take your hands off and prompt them to put their arms through the sleeves. Do the same with the second arm, guide their hands to the sleeve, let go and remind them to pull their arms through.
- Say Pull down for them to pull their t-shirt down.
Learning how to undress is an important part of learning to dress up. Follow these steps:
- Prompt your child to raise one hand up and reach across the body and pull their arm inside through the sleeves.
- Once their arm is out of the sleeve, prompt them to grab the bottom part of the t-shirt, pull it up and take it out through their head.
One Friday World has a wide range of kidswear online that your little one will love to wear.
Little girls look adorable in dresses. However, when it comes to self-dressing, you should avoid teaching how to dress up by themselves using long dresses, long sleeves and scratchy fabrics.
Follow the steps mentioned below to teach your kids to dress by themselves:
- Unbutton or unzip the dress and put the dress over the head of your child, as you do with t-shirts.
- Guide their arms to the sleeves and prompt them to pull their arms out through the sleeves by themselves. Follow the same procedure for the second arm.
- Tell them to pull their dress down and you help them button/zip their dress.
- As undressing comes before dressing in the self-dressing lessons, unbuttoning also comes first before teaching your kids how to button their clothes.
- Instead of telling your kids to practise unbuttoning their clothes, give them a demonstration of how to unbutton their clothes by keeping a few shirts on a table.
- Sit behind your child and hold their hands while doing the demonstration.
- Put their thumb on top of the button, and ask them to push the button through the mouth. Keep your verbal command as clear as possible like, thumb on top, find mouth, push and pull.
- Make sure the colours of the button are different from the shirt which will help them to differentiate.
- Once they master unbuttoning, you can start teaching your children to button their clothes, with similar verbal cues used for unbuttoning.
- Keep the shirt on the table and sit behind your child. Prompt him to keep his thumb on top of the button and ask him to find the slit inside which the button goes. Once he has his thumb on the button opening, say push and pull and your job is done.
Unlike t-shirts and dresses, you will have to take a different approach to teach kids to wear jackets and overcoats by themselves. You must have heard about the “Jacket Flip” concept, let's see how it goes:
- Lay the jacket on the floor and ask your child to stand near the tag (near the hoodie) area. For your child, the jacket will be placed in an upside-down state.
- Prompt them to place both their hands into their armholes, and flip the jacket over their head.
- Help the child fix the zipper at the bottom and let your child pull the zipper up by himself.
As you become specific and clear with your verbal cues, self-dressing will become easier for your kids. To teach your kids to wear bottom wears like pants, trousers, jeans, shorts, leggings, and culottes, please follow the below-mentioned steps:
- We'd recommend you start with bottom wear like shorts with elastic waists because they are easier to wear and pull off.
- Make your child sit on a chair and place the shorts on the floor, keeping both the toe holes clearly visible.
- Guide their feet to the correct hole and their hands on the elastic waist of the shorts and cue them to pull the shorts up.
- Once the shorts reach their knee level, ask them to stand up and keep the thumb fingers on both sides of the shorts and pull up.
- To take off the shorts, follow similar steps in reverse. Make them sit on a chair and guide their thumb fingers on either side of the shorts, stand up and pull the shorts down.
Q1: How to encourage a 4 year old to get dressed on his own?
Be consistent in your approach and create a schedule with your child, where they know it's time to get ready. With clear verbal and visual commands and demonstrations, your child will definitely get on board with the concept of self-dressing. Keep patience and with time, your child will start wearing clothes by themselves and gradually show improvement as you allow them to practise consistently. Even though the skill of wearing clothes is vital for a child's development, understand that your child's refusal to wear clothes is also normal. Instead of letting them see you frustrated, try to show a calm or delightful attitude towards your child.
Q2: What are the things to avoid while dressing your child?
Temperature: Always make sure that you choose clothes according to the weather outside as clothes can get dismally warm or cool as per the climate. Comfortable clothing fabrics such as cotton will keep your little ones cosy as they are more absorbent and allow ventilation. Avoid fabric materials such as nylon, rayon and polyester.Comfort: Choose comfort over style, as comfort is crucial for kids. Avoid clothes that can disrupt the comfort level of your children such as small necklines, armholes and tight elastic waists. Also, avoid clothes that are too large that can trip the child.