Your child has gone through many milestones until now, and now you’re wondering when the next one – getting dressed without anyone’s help – will happen. Supporting your child’s independence through encouraging their self-care is essential for the development of their autonomy, and the more independent the child is, the more confidence they have, as well as more skills to survive without anyone’s help. Also, you are probably looking forward to when they are able to get dressed on their own, so that you could have more time for yourself during your busy mornings. But, don’t get your expectations high just yet! Self-dressing is a complicated process for a child, which includes lots of different skills and can be very emotional for the child, since every accomplishment and failure during the process have their emotional consequences for the child. Try to be as patient as you can and give your child all the space and time they need to learn to dress up without your help. Here’s what you can expect.
What you can expect before self-dressing
During their first year, children’s only contribution when you are getting them dressed is putting their arm or leg out for you to fit them into clothes easier, but around a half year later, they are able to take off their hat or socks, in case they are not tight.
Children usually start taking their clothes off around their second year, much before they start putting them on. It’s a lot easier for the kid to take off their shoes and socks, take off the shirt and unzip the pants and take them off, than it is to remember on which side they should wear all the parts of clothing, which shoe goes to which leg, and zipping and buttoning are much harder while getting dressed than while undressing.
Starting to self-dress
When the child is about two and a half years old, they might be able to put on simple parts of clothing, like loose socks and hats, shorts with no buttons or zippers and loose T-shirts, which they will often put on the wrong side. Don’t be hard on them if they make mistakes during dressing up, such as turning their clothes on the wrong side. Try to gently suggest that they should turn it around, but if they protest, don’t keep bothering them. Try to focus on their accomplishments rather then failures.
The closer your child is to turning three, the more they will be able to do on their own. At this point, they can put all of their clothes on, including putting their shoes on the right feet, zipping and buttoning their pants and shirts which have buttons on the front side. During this process of your child learning to dress on their own, keep in mind that they are going to need a lot of time at first, and plan extra 10 minutes into your morning routine. Stay supportive and patient and celebrate your child’s brand new achievements!