Your child has reached the point where they are starting to express their need for independence and wanting to try things on their own. Learning how to dress themselves may be one of the many jobs you may have done that they are looking to start doing on their own. This is an important skill and milestone for children to reach. When children go through the process of learning how to dress themselves, they feel accomplished and are building their confidence. In addition, this every day task helps children develop important skills such as:
- Fine motor skills – manipulating small objects
- Gross motor skills – coordinating and balancing
- Cognitive skills – remembering and understanding
Learning how to get dressed using buttons and zippers, balancing so that you can put on a pair of pants or shoes, and learning the process of putting on clothes may seem like simple tasks, but for children they are important skills to master. Families should also use this time to expand their child’s knowledge regarding what colors their clothes are, what foot their shoe goes on and even what would be appropriate for different seasons or weather conditions.
During the morning rush, it may seem easiest to just dress your children yourself. Keep in mind that despite the time it may take for your child to learn how to dress themselves, it is not only helping them in their development, but eventually will be one less task in the morning you will need to worry about!
Here are some tips on how to help your child learn how to dress themselves:
- As mentioned earlier, the time available for learning in the morning is usually limited. Until your child has mastered the art of dressing themselves, save practicing for bath time or bedtime when there is less of a rush to be heading out the door. Clothing that is worn at night may also be easier for them to begin practicing with because they usually do have not buttons or zippers.
- Find practical items such as clothing that has large button holes and buttons or Velcro. These items will be easier for your child to practice with and will also create a sense of accomplishment and confidence and will help encourage them to try clothing items that may require more practice such as pants with zippers or shirts with smaller buttons. When it comes to shoes, start with slip on shoes or shoes that are Velcro so they get used to being able to put them on first.
- Find fun ways to assist your child in learning the correct way to put on their clothes. Buying clothing with logos, characters or designs on the front will help them determine the front from the back. When trying to help your child learn which shoes goes on the right foot, try to also distinguish the right from the left. A fun way to help them remember would be to take a sticker and tear it in half. Place the right half on the inside of the right shoe and the left half in the left shoe. Remind them that putting their shoes on correctly will make the sticker whole.
- Practice! At first it may be too difficult for them to practice buttoning or zipping up clothing on themselves. At first, have them practice on a doll or stuffed animal. As they continue to get better at their fine motor skills, have them practice changing themselves during dress up and pretend play.
What tips would you add to this list?