Getting your child dressed in the morning can become stressful, especially when they are insistent on doing everything on their own. Fighting against their desires only makes things worse so what’s a parent to do?
“Never Help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
The key is finding the sweet spot. Parents should support their child’s desire to dress themself independently without overwhelming them with all aspects of doing it themself by preparing their environment… And as much as I procrastinated all though college I gave it a go in my own home. In this crazy world if a few minutes of my time preparing outfits ahead gives them a huge confidence boost, and more hours enjoying our time together I am happy to oblige!
Why allow for independence? Well, practical life skill development to make the process go smoother, fine motor development, problem-solving skills, and the radiating confidence of a proud child… the hardest part is just getting started!
Avoid correcting dressing errors unless it will affect their safety, just prep ahead differently next time
Choose clothing that encourages independence
No rompers, overalls or onesies
Clothing that is not to tight or baggy for easy up and down
Shirts with large neck holes
Shoes with velcro instead of buckles or ties. Avoid high-top shoes unless they have a zipper as their harder to get their foot inside.
Loose-fitting coats with smooth liners and large tooth zippers or snaps.
WAYS TO PRACTICE
We see a lot of shoes on the wrong feet and this is one mistake we just can’t let slide as it could be unsafe. At home you can help your child identify the correct shoe for each foot by cutting a sticker in half and placing them inside the shoes to form the whole sticker when the shoes are on the correct feet.
Socks are often a struggle for younger toddlers! Try sitting them in a low chair and allowing them to slide scrunchies over their feet to practice getting on socks. This activity helps with problem-solving, and motor planning.
PREPARING THE ENVIRONMENT
Properly preparing the environment is very important to a successful dressing process. In preparing the environment we should be doing only the tasks that the child can not do for themself. Parents should make available only a few options that are appropriate for them to choose from. Each families home will look different but some important criteria for a prepared environment are:
Provide a child height chair for dressing and a mirror. Getting dressed in the sitting position is often easiest and a mirror provides them feedback.
Allow for a few options for children to pick from, so they feel empowered without getting overwhelmed. Tuck away items that are not weather appropriate or an appropriate option.
Allow them to do whatever tasks they can. This could be as simple as having them retrieve their clothing and put their pajamas in a hamper or as complex as completely dressing independently
Break down dressing into components by talking through the process to make things less overwhelming. “First your head, one arm, now the other arm."
Make sure everything they may need is at child height by setting up a self-care dressing station. Clothes should hang low or be in baskets. Children should have access to any clothing needs including underwear or pull-ups, socks, shoes, coats and hats.
Make a hamper available for dirty pajamas so children can take care of their own belongings and clean up appropriately.
Lay their clothes out so they are set to be put on. Talk through why they go which way to provide feedback for future independence. “okay let’s lay out your pants, the button goes in the front.”