Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Teaching Children to Dress Themselves

Getting ready in the morning is enough of a hassle, between preparing breakfast for the family, packing up lunch boxes and finding shoes that went missing the night before. One way to relieve some of the stress is to teach children how to dress themselves, so that you do not have to do it in the morning! Here are the best methods (from my own experience).

Watch and Learn
Many children are very visual learners. See if you can find some books or videos at the library or store that show children how to properly put on socks or how to button a pair of jeans (or show them yourself). If no such material is available, take one of their favorite dolls or stuffed animals, and demonstrate on them.

Patience is Key
Teaching a little one how to button a pair of jeans is tricky, since grasping both sides can be hard for little fingers. However, if you become frustrated, they are going to become frustrated too. Make it a process. Teach them how to dress themselves when you're not in a rush. Explain step by step how to put on a t-shirt or how the raised part of the sock belongs on the upper side of the toes. You might need to wait on some parts of the process. For example, by 5 years old, a child may very well be able to dress him or herself, but he or she might not be able to tie the laces on sneakers just yet.

Plan a System
Sometimes children have trouble figuring out which article of clothing belongs with what. If that's the case, hang pieces that go with one another on the same hanger. You could also buy a cubby-like structure, and put a label on it for each day of the week. You and your child could pick out his or her outfits at the beginning of the week, and then put the clothes in the appropriate cubby hole. The outfits will all be pre-picked, and your child will simply have to get dressed instead of selecting an outfit too.

Be Flexible
Even if you're a fashionista yourself, your little one might not live up to those high expectations of the fashion world! If your child is having trouble buttoning jeans but you still want him or her to get dressed alone, purchase sweatpants or yoga pants for your little one to wear while you're working on how to put on jeans. Another option is to purchase boots, velcro sneakers or slip-on shoes, so that children do not have to tie them. Of course, children eventually need to learn how to tie their shoes and button their jeans, but you can use alternatives while you are teaching them how to perform these more complicated matters.

While adults get dressed every day without too much of a problem, remember that it is more difficult for children. They might worry that you may not like their selections, and their little hands often have trouble manipulating tricky articles of clothing. Be patient and nonjudgmental, and know that, eventually, you will have a child who does not need your help getting dressed.

This guest post was submitted by Andy Jedlicka, who writes about parenting, personal finance & more.

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