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Teaching Toddlers to Dress Themselves

When you are trying to get out the door in the morning and you’re running late it probably seems easiest to dress your child yourself. However, letting your toddler get dressed themselves is an important skill. As this will help teach your little one independence and help them feel more confident once they know how to dress themselves.

Develop Dressing Skills

As you child gets older they may start to show an interest in helping to get themselves dressed. Although they may be determined to get dressed on their own, dressing can be a complex activity which they will need lots of help with as they learn this new skill.

Here are some dressing skills your child may be able to do at different ages, but remember every child is different and these ages are a guide only:

From 1 year: they may begin putting their arms through sleeves, their legs through pants and help take off their shoes and socks

From 2 years: they may remove an unfastened coat, help push down their pants, try putting on socks

From 3 years: they may be able to pull down pants, put on and take off a t-shirt, button large buttons, pull zippers up and down, and put on shoes by themselves

Teach Dressing Skills

Teaching your toddler to get dressed requires plenty of encouragement, persistence and patience, therefore you might try breaking it down into smaller steps first – such as help your child put their t-shirt over their head and then allow them to put their arms through on their own

Here are some tips to make getting dressed easier and fun and less like a battle:

  • Teach them how to undress before teaching them how to get dressed, as it is easier – allow them to undress themselves before putting on their pyjamas at night, as you may have more time in the evening than during the morning rush
  • Turn it into a game – when your child learns to pull their clothes off and tries to put them on again e.g. their socks, name or call out the item of clothing and say which body part they belong to
  • Choose clothes that have pictures on the front to help them work out the front from the back
  • Help them feel independent by giving them a couple of clothing options they can choose from e.g. two t-shirts or two pairs of shoes
  • Have a dress up party, gather some old clothes such as hats, gloves, dresses, shirts, and shoes. However, don’t include items that could be potentially dangerous such as cords, belts, detachable small parts such as badges, beads, etc.
  • Allow plenty of time for them to dress so they don’t feel rushed
  • And remember, practice makes perfect. Let them try out their new skills on items around the around the house, such as a pencil case