Helping Preschoolers Learn to Get Dressed

Mornings can be tough for busy families, so rushed parents and caregivers can be forgiven for sometimes needing to step in and dress struggling little ones.

However, it’s important for preschoolers to learn for themselves and to be given the opportunity to practise and master these fundamental self-help skills.

As your child learns to get dressed by themselves, you will gradually have a little less to do in the mornings. They will also be developing vital motor and cognitive skills, along with a feeling of accomplishment and independence.

What age should children start to learn about getting dressed?

We can help our little ones gain awareness of clothing and getting dressed from a very young age. When dressing baby we can name the items (and the body parts they go on) as we put them on and take them off. As soon as baby is old enough to start removing clothing items on their own, as they often like to do, we can also take this opportunity to strengthen this sort of familiarisation.

When your little one is old enough to start learning to dress with your supervision you can make things a bit easier by using items that are loose fitting, elastic-waisted and secured with Velcro or large buttons.
Help your child based on their age and skill level; to begin with they will need your help standing steady while getting their clothes on in the right order, and the right way around, with their limbs in all the right places.

As youngsters naturally become steadier on their feet, you can gradually help a little less. And as your little learner becomes more confident you will be able to lay out the clothes in order and talk them through the rest.

Usually, from age three and over, preschoolers start to show more interest and willing with self-help skills such as getting dressed. They may want to start doing it on their own, and as tempting as it is when they struggle, we must try to offer positive praise and guidance, rather than taking over the task.

Getting dressed all by yourself may seem like a mundane chore to grown-ups. So much so, that it is easy to forget the excitement and sense of achievement that our little learners can feel when mastering some of the day-to-day self-help skills for themselves.

We must remember that getting your trousers on the right way around, or your t-shirt outside out, is a pretty major achievement when you are a little intellectual sponge, continually filling with brand new knowledge.

Useful Tips & Tricks

• Choose loose-fitting/convenient clothes for everyday use
• Put out clothes in advance if you have to be somewhere at a certain time
• Allow plenty of time in your schedule for getting dressed without a panic
• Put aside some fun practice time when you’re not in a rush
• Teach the concepts of whether when choosing suitable clothes for the day
• Show your child where clean and dirty clothes go, as you go along
• Let your child sit on a low stool to master leg holes, socks and shoes
• Mark clothes on the inner neckline and explain that labels go at the back
• Have clothes draws and laundry baskets that your little one can safely reach

At first, many young children are more motivated when it comes to throwing clothes off than putting them on, but everything is a learning opportunity!

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