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How to teach my child to get dressed

toddler playing with clothes

Key points:

  1. Children start gaining independence by learning how to get dressed around the age of 24 months.
  2. Learning to dress is a gradual process that requires patience, practice, and praise for achievements.
  3. The best clothes for learning to dress are those with easy-to-use fastenings like elastic waistbands and velcro.
  4. Tips and tricks to help children learn to dress include giving them choices, establishing a routine, making it fun, and being patient when they need help.

As your child grows, they will gain skills that will allow them to be more independent and one of those skills is learning how to get dressed.

At this stage, each new learning experience is crucial because it helps them adapt to the world that surrounds them. Around their first birthday, children start acquiring new skills that allow them to rely a little bit more on themselves. And around 24 months, some of these skills involve beginning to dress by themselves. Every child develops at their own pace, so some children may start earlier, and others later. Most children acquire this and more self-care milestones by the time they’re four years old.


Learning how to get dressed

Once your little one turns two, it’s a good time to start teaching them how to get dressed. This is a challenging task and it will take a while until your little one achieves this without help, but they will gradually dominate this task, improving with practice.

This is an exciting time for your little one, as getting dressed like mom and dad do gives them a sense of autonomy. It doesn’t matter if they just put on one little piece of clothing, always remember to praise them; it’s a big deal for them! Likewise, don’t be surprised if your little one puts on their shoes the wrong way, it’s all part of the learning process.

Start teaching them how to dress as soon as possible, always looking for signs of interest and initiative. Also, remember not to rush your child while they are learning this new skill. It is not an easy task for them, so make time for this ritual and avoid the urge to dress your little one yourself. 

The best clothes to learn to get dressed are:

  • Pants with an elastic waistband
  • Velcro shoes
  • Clothes with velcro instead of buttons or ties
  • Shirts with a wide neck and illustrations in front so they can easily identify which way to wear it.

Tips and tricks that will help your toddler learn how to get dressed alone

  • Always praise their achievements, however small they are. For our children, everything is a big deal and it’ll motivate them to keep learning.
  • Let your little one choose between two or three options of clothes, this will give them a greater sense of autonomy.
  • Remember to choose between clothes that are easy to put on.
  • Teach your child to find the labels on shirts and tell them these always go on the back. Do the same for pants, explaining that the large pockets also go on the back.
  • If they start buttoning up their shirts, teach them to begin from the bottom up so that they don’t skip any buttons.
  • For shoes, you can draw two happy faces and tell your child that when the faces are facing each other they are in the correct position.
  • Establish a routine. It may include a bath, getting dry, putting on pajamas, and having dinner.
  • Make it fun! You can come up with a song for getting dressed or simply playing a special one. You can also count to see how long it takes them to get dressed, many children love to race against the clock.
  • Find a good, relaxed time to practice getting dressed and don’t forget to be patient with your little one.

What do I do when I’m in a hurry?

We know that even though we want to let our children get dressed alone every time, the world moves at a fast pace and there isn’t always enough time. With this in mind, it is important to explain to your little one that there will be days when you will have to dress them. Mention that, instead, they’ll be able to practice at night with their pajamas or at another time. Also, keep in mind that you’ll probably have to repeat instructions many times; children learn fast but require practice, especially with such a challenging task like this one.

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