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Getting your child to dress himself up has many benefits to not just your child but to you as well. It is one thing less that you will have to do, especially once your child starts attending classes and punctuality will be of consequence. It also gives your child a chance to be responsible while also having fun with what he is wearing. Having said this, it is easier said than done to get your child to dress himself. Here, we give you great tips that you can use to make the entire process easier for you and your child.
Why Should You Teach Your Children to Get Dressed on Their Own
While as adults we do not think twice about dressing ourselves, it is a tricky and rewarding thing for your child to learn. Dressing yourself might seem like second nature to you now, but there are many benefits to teaching your child how to dress himself. Dressing helps develop many skills such as:
- Fine motor skills, especially when dealing with zippers and shoelaces
- Gross motor skills, like when balancing yourself on one leg to wear socks
- Cognitive skills, when remembering the order in which the clothes are worn and the patience for the entire process
- Language skills, when learning the names for different items of clothing
- A sense of time and occasion, when they learn what type of clothing suits the occasion or the weather
Dressing Skills at Different Ages
If you are wondering at what age should a child begin to dress himself, then you are asking the wrong type of question. Rather than focusing on when should a child dress himself, you should look at this process as something that will happen step by step over a period of time that will last a few years. As your child grows, you will see small advancements towards learning how to dress himself. Your role is to encourage these attempts and have patience while he learns the next new step.
1. At 1 Year
- Your child will hold up his arms to wear sleeves and feet to wear shoes
- He can pull off his socks and shoes
- He can push his arms through the sleeves and legs through pants
2. At 2 Years
- Your child may be able to take off an unfastened sweater or coat
- Your child will help you push down his pants
- He will find the armholes in shirts
3. At 2 ½ Years
- Your child will be able to remove pants that have an elastic waistband
- He will try to put on socks on his own
- Putting on a shirt or sweater without buttoning it may become easy
- Unbuttoning large buttons may also become possible
4. At 3 Years
- Your child will be able to wear a t-shirt with a little bit of help
- He’ll wear his shoes without securing them. However, he might put it on the wrong foot!
- He’ll be able to put on his socks with some help
- Pull off his t-shirt on his own
- Use zippers
- Button large buttons
5. At 4 Years
- Use the buckles on his shoes or belts
- Use connector zippers
- Put on socks with no help
- Put on shoes with little help
- Can recognize the front and back of a clothing item
6. At 4 ½ Years
- Wear pants with minimal help
- Put a belt through the belt loops
7. At 5 Years
- Dress with no supervision
- Put on his clothes the right way every time
How to Teach Kids to Dress Themselves
Teaching your child how to dress himself requires a healthy dose of patience. While it might be frustrating for you to watch your child wear his shoes for five minutes, it is important that he learns how to do so. Here are a few tips that can help with the more difficult aspects of dressing.
1. Elastic Pants
Pick pants that are loose with an elastic band at the waist. Go for sweats rather than jeans until your child learns how to pull them off. You can then graduate to buttons than snap on or even a slide button. The last type of button to learn is the traditional type as it is the hardest.
2. Sit Down When Dressing
This is particularly useful when wearing pants or other bottoms like shoes and socks. Your child can then focus on just wearing the pants and not have to worry about balancing himself while also figuring out how to wear the clothes.
3. Push Arms Through Sleeves
Encourage your child to push his arms through the sleeves. This is one of the easiest steps to achieve and will boost your child’s confidence.
4. Encourage to Button
You might be wondering how to teach a child to button shirt. For older kids, you must encourage them to button their own shirts. While there might be a few mismatched buttons in the beginning, the payoff is worth it.
5. Lay Out the Clothes
In the beginning, it is best to not confuse your child with too many choices. Pick out all his clothes and lay them out for him to wear. You can also lay them in the order that he has to wear clothes.
6. Distinguish Between Front and Back
Teach your child how to recognize the tell-tale signs to distinguish between the front and back of clothes. Point out that the tag of a dress is always on the back, or that buttons are usually on the front.
7. Start with Removing
Removing clothes is much easier than putting them on and your child will find this easier. Also, in most cases, your child will be wearing clothes based on a schedule. While removing clothes, schedules are usually more relaxed, like around bath time or sleep time.
8. Easy Shoes
One important aspect of teaching toddlers to dress is wearing shoes. Start with shoes that are easy to get into such as slip-on shoes that stretch. Show your child how you wear your shoes, with the toes going in first and then the heel. Encourage him to try on his own.
9. Easy Wear Shirts
If the idea of getting your child’s head through a t-shirt hole scares you and him alike, you can start with easy wear shirts. Look for shirts that have stick on panels or velcro in place of buttons.
How to Help a Child with Developmental Delay to Dress
The first thing to do is to get a professional on board. This will not only help with aspects of dressing but other areas of development where your child will need specialized attention. Be sure to stay patient and use different techniques for teaching. You can give your child instructions by telling, by showing, or step by step. Think about if the skill you want your child to learn is something that he is physically capable of doing. There is a fine line between teaching your child about perseverance and him getting frustrated with what you perceive as simple tasks.
There are many benefits to your kids learning how to dress themselves. While most of these benefits revolve around physical capabilities, the mental and emotional benefits are also undeniable. Learning how to dress himself will give your child a boost in confidence. You can tell your child to choose one item of clothing the previous night that he can wear through the day. This will encourage him to dress even if they find some tasks particularly challenging and frustrating.