As your child reaches toddlerhood, it will seem like they have reached so many new milestones including walking, talking, and even starting potty training. Another important skill your toddler will learn to master is dressing themselves. Some children may show an interest earlier than others, but most children will begin helping to undress and dress themselves by age two. Although grasping this skill can be challenging for children and it may take a while for them to master it, it is an important skill for them to learn. When children learn how to dress themselves, it helps build their confidence, gives them a sense of achievement, and allows them to feel independent. In addition, this everyday task helps children develop important skills such as:
Fine motor skills – manipulating small objects such as buttons and zippers
Gross motor skills – coordinating and balancing as they stand on one leg to pull on a pair of pants
Cognitive skills – remembering and understanding what piece of clothing goes on when
Learning to get dressed by themselves will also help children learn the names of different pieces of clothing, colors, and what clothing is appropriate for different seasons or weather conditions.
Here are some tips on how to help your child learn how to dress themselves:
- Most mornings, families are rushing around to get out the door and the time available for is usually limited. In the beginning, it may be helpful to 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 not have buttons or zippers.
- When shopping for clothing, 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 without the need for tying.
- 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. In the beginning, 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. Again, this skill will take some time and a lot of practice to master.
At Educational Playcare, we believe in learning through play. All of the experiences we provide to the children have intentional educational components, but they are implemented through play. Research shows that often the best learning experiences for children happen when children participate in free or self-directed play. Playing dress up with clothes that are a bit bigger than their normal clothing will not only be helpful for learning how to put on and take off their clothing, but it allows them to learn while having fun, which is one of Educational Playcare’s Core Values.
What helped your child learn how to dress themselves?