Teaching Your Child to Dress Themselves

Teaching your child to get dress themselves is an important life skill and can be hard to learn.  Children learning to dress themselves builds confidence, giving them a sense of achievement and gratification they have accomplished something.  It also encourages independence, meaning helping them to get dressed is one less thing for you to do!

It works best if you break getting dressed down into smaller achievable steps.

Teaching backwards

Getting your child to start with the last step works well.  In Triple P we call this teaching backwards,

Here is an example of how it works when putting on trousers, but you can use this method with any item of clothing.

Trousers

Teaching your child to dress themselves

Once your child is confident with the last step you gradually make it harder by taking them back a step; next time challenging your child to pull their trousers up from the bottom. Over time provide less guidance, fewer prompts and praise your child enthusiastically when they complete each step of the task.

To help you break down the steps of getting dressed you can print this steps template here.

Ask, Say, Do

Another method you can use to help your child learn to get dressed is the ‘Ask, Say, Do’ strategy.

Here is how it works:

Ask

Ask your child what the first step is ‘It’s time to get dressed for school, what do we need to do first?’

Say

If your child does not give the correct answer, calmly let them know what we need to do ‘Take off our pyjamas’

Do

If child struggles to perform the task help them.  Praise them for their efforts as well as their accomplishments.

Then repeat the process for the next step:

Ask

‘What do we need to do next?’

Say

‘That’s right, we put on our pants!’

Do

Give assistance if required and praise!

Repeat until task is complete.

Child dressing themselves

Activity schedule

Using an activity schedule, may also help children get themselves ready by providing visual prompts.  Keep the schedule in the bedroom where your child gets dressed and encourage your child to use the schedule by pointing to the picture, performing the task and then returning to the schedule for prompts to the next task.

Here is an example of a schedule we have prepared. You can use this or make your own, using photographs or drawings.  Over time the instructions and guidance can be reduced so children learn to follow the schedule themselves.

Top tips for making getting dressed successful:

  • Make sure your child is developmentally ready to dress themselves
  • Name the clothing and body parts they go on
  • Start with easy clothing first e.g. trousers with an elasticated waist or shoes with Velcro
  • Allow a realistic amount of time for getting dressed
  • If you’re often rushed in the morning, try choosing clothes with your child the night before
  • When you’re in a hurry, let your child do the easy tasks and help them with the difficult tasks
  • Practise getting dressed when you and your child aren’t in a hurry or tired

Did you find the tips in this blog helpful?  Please let us know how you will apply the tips to teaching your child to dress themselves below!

If you would like more tips and support with parenting, you might like to join one of our parenting programmes here!

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