Children's Development

How to Encourage Kids to Dress Themselves

Little ones can be developmentally ready to dress themselves between the ages of 1-5 years old. Dressing oneself relies on quite a few skills like fine motor, gross motor, balance, coordination, and cognitive readiness.

Plenty of practice and patience is required to hone these abilities. Here are a few things to consider when helping kids with the process.

1. Focus on one skill at a time.

For example, concentrate on pants first. Teach kids how to identify the front or back of clothing by looking for tags and pockets.

2. Practice when you have plenty of time on your side.

Hold off if you are rushing out the door in the morning or are under a time constraint. Take advantage of opportunities in the afternoon or evening, or whenever you have ample time.

3. Picture cards, songs, and rhymes may be helpful for some children.

Using a visual chart with can help keep track of the steps.

4. Model the task.

Put on your socks side by side with kiddos. Every chance to try is an opportunity to learn! When starting out, choose clothing with large arm holes, stretchy waistbands, looser neck openings, pre-laced or Velcro shoes.

5. Place clothing items in lower drawers or bins so that they are accessible and easy to reach.

This will encourage little ones to pull out clothing on their own.

Praise all efforts and hold off on critique. Resist the urge to take over the task. Self-care skills take time and plenty of practice!

Stephanie Standley M. Ed. is a mom, educator, writer, and outdoor enthusiast. She received her undergraduate degrees in Sociology and Psychology as well as a Master of Education-Literacy from the University of San Diego. Stephanie has 12+ years of classroom experience as a teacher and currently supports students in Special Education. She is inspired to use evidence-based practices to educate children in creative and engaging ways.