Independence – getting dressed

As your child reaches toddlerhood, you will notice them develop several new skills as he or she begins to walk and talk. At this stage, your toddler can even start learning how to get dressed on their own, something that believe it or not, actually requires a number of different skills.

Allowing your little one to get dressed will help them to become more independent, whilst also improving their self-esteem. Getting dressed not only requires thought and confidence but also the useful of gross and fine motor skills, which can assist children in learning to write, draw and even feed themselves.


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Here we’ll take a closer at look at some of the skills children need to get dressed and how it can benefit them in terms of gaining independence.

Getting dressed takes skill and is an important milestone for your toddler.


Getting dressed: The skills

Gross motor skills such as lifting the arms and legs in coordinated motions, will be required for your child to put on their top and step into their leggings. They will also need fine motor skills, such as using their fingers to manipulate small objects like buttons and zippers in order to dress properly.

Getting dressed can also help toddlers to develop their cognitive skills. Being able the understand the sequence of putting on clothing and thinking about what clothing is required in different temperatures and weather is very important and will mark a huge milestone in your toddler’s development.


How to get started

Before your little one can learn how to get dressed, they need to learn how to get undressed. Around eighteen months (or even younger), toddlers will be able to start undressing themselves, as it doesn’t take as much skill.

At the age of two and a half to three, they should start to show an interest in putting on simple items of clothing that only require use of their gross motor skills, rather than fine motor skills (i.e. clothing without buttons or zippers).

Teaching your child to get dressed can be quite challenging and therefore requires patience. You will need to take them through every stage from picking out clothes that are right for the time of day (and occasion), to putting on the clothes and doing up any buttons or zips.


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When dressing your child, it’s a good idea to talk through what they are wearing, including the colours and sizes. This will help your child to learn the names of different types of clothing (along with where on the body they are worn) and colour names. It will also help them grasp the concept of clothing being too small or too big for them.

Start by letting your little one choose between different outfits, rather than picking one completely on their own.


Tips for teaching your child how to get dressed

Be positive and supportive – Praise will motivate your child and help increase their confidence

Talk about the weather – Explain to your child how the weather can affect what clothes they are choosing. Ask them to tell you what the weather is like and what this means.

Give your child a choice of clothing – Rather than letting them pick from their entire wardrobe, start by giving them a choice between two t-shirts and two pairs of trousers. In time they will be able to pick out clothes for themselves that are suitable for the occasion.

Allow a realistic time for getting dressed – Don’t try and rush the process. Give your child plenty of time to get dressed. If they have to rush, they will end up getting flustered, which may lead to items of clothing back-to-front or missing entirely.

Being able to get dressed is a huge step towards your child becoming more independent. It not only requires the use of motor skills but also shows he or she is able to make thoughtful decisions for themself.

Written by Carly Garrett

Image Credits: StarsApart and StarsApart