Want to let the kids dress themselves and also save yourself time? Learn how to teach a child to dress themselves in the mornings with these 9 useful tips.
I’m late for work, and my son insists on putting his shoes on. This wouldn’t be a problem… if he actually knew how to put shoes on.
All this time, I’d been doing everything for him because it just seems faster that way. Problem is, I know I’d save more time if he only knew how to get dressed. Except that takes time I already don’t have.
In my home, my husband usually has morning duty during school days. He has to shuttle three kids to two different schools on time, alone. Dressing them himself was the easiest short-term solution. But he knew he needed to start teaching them to get dressed on their own.
How to teach a child to dress themselves
No matter the age (our eldest is six and the twins three), every child can learn to become more independent. Except, of course, there’s the challenge of finding the time to teach your child to get dressed. Watching your child tie his own laces will add an extra five minutes right there.
Plus, you might encounter your child’s independence and desire to “I do it!” even if you’d rather he not. What are some tips on teaching kids to dress themselves to make things easier for everyone?
1. Start with elastic pants
They’re easier to pull on and off than anything buttoned. Start with loose, comfortable pants (think sweatpants) than jeans or cargo pants. Once your child has the hang of pulling pants up and down, show him how to use button snaps. At most, sliding buttons. The last button to introduce are the most difficult—your standard buttons with holes.
2. Have your child sit down to put on bottoms
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Putting on pants, undies, socks and shoes can be difficult standing up. Instead, encourage your child to sit down, either on the floor or on a step to put on or even remove clothes. Shoes can sometimes be easier to put on standing up, but removing them is usually easier sitting down.
3. Have your child push his arms through sleeves
One of the easiest steps to begin with is guiding them through putting their arms through. Place the shirt over his head, then ask him to stretch his arms through the sleeves.
4. Place hooded jackets on his head first
Want to teach your child to put on jackets himself? Have him put the hood of a jacket on his head. That way, he won’t confuse which sleeve goes on which arm.
5. Encourage older kids to button their own shirts
Once your child knows how to use buttons, have him button his own shirts, even if you have to fix a few mismatched ones. The only way he’ll learn to do it himself is having the chance to do so.
6. Lay out your child’s clothes in order
Whether clothes for the day or pajamas, lay out your child’s clothes on his bed in the order he should put them on. For bedtime, place undies, pajama bottoms, pajama top and finally socks on his bed. Make sure they’re all facing up so he knows which is the front and back. Speaking of which…
7. Show your child tell-tale signs of front and back
Your child will likely ask which is the front and which is the back. For many clothes, this will be obvious, especially t-shirts and shirts. But for some, like pants, your child might have a harder time distinguishing. A few signs to show him are tags and labels, which mean that’s the back. Strings on elastic pants go on the front. Side pockets are in front while square pockets go in the back.
8. Start with having your child remove clothes
Putting clothes on is harder than taking them off, so start with removing first. When you get home, have them remove their own shoes and jackets. Then when they take a bath, encourage them to pull their own pants down and remove socks.
9. Show your child how to remove a shirt
An easy way to remove a shirt is for your child to slip his arms out of the shirt sleeves. Then, with his hands inside, he can push the whole shirt off.
Fair warning: Showing your child to get dressed and undressed takes some upfront time investment. It’s much faster if you dressed him yourself than having him do so himself.
But do that often enough and your child will be able to do all that himself. No more wrangling shoes on or zipping jackets every time you leave. You can tell your child to get dressed and, even if it takes him five minutes longer, at least he’s doing it, not you. After a while, he’ll even start choosing his own clothes.
And check out Let’s Get Dressed! by Caroline Jayne Church to teach your little one how to dress themselves:
Get more tips here:
- Toddler Routines: How to Structure Your Day
- 6 Tips to Make Your Morning Routine for School Run Smoothly
- 6 Useful Back to School Tips for Parents and Kids
- How to Get Your Kids to Clean Up After Themselves
- Teach Your Child the Value of a Job Well Done
Tell me in the comments: What are you best tips on how to teach a child to dress themselves?
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