12 Effective Tips to Teach Your Child to Dress Themselves
Dressing skills are a vital part of child development. Not only does learning to dress themselves help support children’s growing independence, but it also promotes the development of many other valuable skills including, but not limited to sequencing, motor coordination, balance, bilateral coordination, dexterity, attention, and body awareness.
However, despite their importance, working on dressing skills with a child can prove to be challenging and frustrating, even resulting in battles between parents and their children.
Here are some helpful hints and tips to assist with teaching children dressing skills:
First, review the common age ranges for dressing skills to minimize frustration and the chance of expecting too much or too little from your child.
Tips for Dressing Success
- Expect your child to remove clothing before learning how to put them on
- Practice using looser fitting clothing
- Practice dressing skills when your schedule allows for extra time to avoid feeling rushed, which will minimize frustration and your child feeling discouraged
- Use simple directions when describing and explain steps for dressing
- Encourage understanding of vocabulary such as up, down, in, out, front, back, and behind
- Find opportunities during the day to help your child learn their body parts (including less-common parts such as ankle, knee, elbow, shoulder, etc.)
- Use yourself as a model and example for sequencing
- Allow your child to attempt dressing tasks while seated in a chair or on the floor
- Focus on what your child did successfully rather than what he/she did not accomplish
- Praise your child for trying their best
- Use a backward chaining approach by only expecting the child to complete the last step of the sequence then moving on to the second to last step, etc.
What is backward chaining?
Step 1: Adult puts socks over the toes, heal, and ankle; child pulls sock up the leg
Step 2: Adult puts sock over toes and heel; child pulls over the ankle and up the leg
Step 3: Adult puts sock over toes; child pulls sock over heel, ankle, and leg
Step 4: Child puts on sock independently
We hope this helps you feel more confident in how to teach your child how to dress themselves. At Kids Place Pediatric Therapy, we’re here to help your child play better, feel better, and live better. If you think your child needs professional help, contact us today to set up a free screening.