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How to Teach Your Child to Dress Themselves

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Getting dressed is second nature to us adults. However, for our young children, it means learning brand new skills that require a lot of practice, patience, and confidence. In this article, we’ll be discussing the top tips and tricks parents can use to help their children learn how to get dressed. 

Teaching Your Child How to Get Dressed: Advice for Parents 

For the first few years of your child’s life, you are responsible for getting them dressed every morning, every night, and after every little “accident.” However, there comes a time when children must learn – and grow an interest in – how to dress themselves.

 Developing dressing skills for preschoolers requires your child to master several important early childhood skills including fine motor skills, gross motor skills, body awareness, motor planning, and cognitive skills

Children as young as twelve months often become aware of their clothes by pulling off their socks or shoes. But, mastering the techniques needed to get dressed independently takes time and they will need your support during this process. 

One of the best ways of doing this is by practicing dressing techniques with them daily until they are confident enough to do it on their own. We’ll take a look at these a little later on. 

Self-Dressing Milestones: When Should Your Child Learn to Dress Themselves Independently 

Many parents ask the question: ‘When will my child begin to dress by themself?’ This typically happens once they become a toddler. Your child will hit self-dressing milestones throughout their toddler years that will prepare them for being able to put an entire outfit on. 

Self-Dressing Milestones by Age 

1 Year Old

  • Remove socks
  • Put on and remove loose hats
  • Push arms through sleeves and legs through pants

2 Year Old

  • Remove shoes
  • Pull down socks or pants
  • Unbutton a large button
  • Put on jackets or shirts without zipping or buttoning them up

3 Year Old

  • Able to put on socks & a t-shirt with help
  • Able to put on shoes, even if they are on the wrong feet
  • Can unzip a jacket and take off
  • Can button large front buttons
  • Can unbuckle a belt with some help

4 Year Old

  • Can zip-up jacket with practice
  • Able to put on socks without needing adjustments
  • Can lace-up shoes

5 Year Old

  • Can get dressed with little to no supervision

Montessori Coat Flip and More: Top Ways to Teach Your Child How to Dress

Teaching your toddler how to get dressed is best done slowly and step-by-step. The good news for parents is that to modify your child’s dressing routine, there are plenty of tricks that you can use such as the Montessori coat flip to help your child learn how to put on different items of clothing. Below are some of our favorite self-dressing tricks:

  • Shoes: Don’t expect them to start by tying shoes. Start by teaching your toddler how to put on sturdy, velcro-strapped sneakers. If they have a heel tab, that’s even better! Make sure your child pushes their foot right to the top of the shoe before sliding their heel in. Then show them how to close over the velcro straps. As they get older, you can teach them how to tie shoelaces. 
  • Socks: Practicing with a stretchy rubber hair band will get your toddler used to the idea of putting on socks and will strengthen their fine motor skills. Once they are ready for socks, put the sock over their toes but let them pull it over their heel. 
  • Underwear & Pants: Elasticated waistbands will be key when teaching your child to put on underwear and pants. Place the underwear or pants on the floor with the legs facing away. Your child should start with one leg at a time and push their leg through the item of clothing until their feet come out the other end. Once both legs are through, help them up and teach them how to use their thumbs to pull up the waistband. 
  • Shirts: T-shirts and sweaters are difficult clothing items for children to put on by themselves. Guide their heads through first and encourage them to find one armhole at a time. Once they have mastered this, show them how to find the neck hole and how to pull it over their head. 
  • Jackets: Lastly, we have the Montessori coat flip. Putting on a jacket or coat isn’t straightforward. Lay the coat on the ground by your child’s feet. Show them how to bend down, guide their arms through each of the armholes, and then stand back up. The last step in the puzzle is flipping the coat over their heads. 

Taking your child through each of these dressing tasks daily and offering praise when they put on a piece of clothing (even if it is on backwards) builds their confidence and gives them a sense of independence and motivates them to work on dressing skills. 

Encouraging Early Childhood Developmental Milestones

As part of the Vivvi early learning program, our early childhood educators will guide your children through everyday activities that are geared towards developing important life skills such as mathematical reasoning, expressive language, fine motor development, and many more. Our inquiry-based model is available to families in one of our New York campuses or through in-home support.  

Looking for more information? Get in touch with the Vivvi team and book a virtual tour of our campuses today! 

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