When your little one hits the age of two or three, she will start wanting to do things ‘all by myself’.
It can be great when your little girl wants to put her toys away herself or when she wants to clear her plate herself. However, it can also be very painful to watch and wait for her to dress herself especially when you are already in a rush.
When your little one starts asserting her independence, then you know that wanting to dress herself is just around the corner. Here are some simple yet effective ways to make it easier for her to succeed and easier for you to handle.
1. Buy the Right Clothes
Look for clothes that are easy for your child to manage. Pants or shorts with elastic bands are going to be much easier (and less disastrous for little boys) than pants with zippers. Clothes that come with large buttons or Velcro as well as larger openings will also be easier for your little one to manoeuvre. Choose shoes that slip on such as Crocs or thongs and choose running shoes with Velcro so that your child can easily put them on and off.
2. Allow Plenty of Time
You can expect your child to take pretty much forever to get dressed. If you have to be out the door in five minutes, then it is probably best if you just do it yourself but you are not allowing her to explore this new sense of freedom. Instead, allow for at least an extra half hour for your child to attempt this task themselves. When they get it right – or even nearly right – give them loads of praise!
3. Let her Choose her Clothes
Another way to allow her to assert her independence is to pick out her outfits. Of course, she may choose the most impractical outfit possible such as a ballerina dress when you are going grocery shopping or a singlet in the middle of winter. Give her a couple of options by holding out two shirts and letting her choose between these items. If you do have to take over from the dressing duty, at least she will have a say in what she wears.
4. Offer Assistance Whenever She Needs it
Lay out the clothes in the order they need to be put on and see if she wants to do it herself. However, remain by her side so that you are always there if things get too difficult and she gets frustrated. Or, ask her to put on her clothes in the kitchen or living room so you can complete a task, such as cleaning up from breakfast while monitoring her. The biggest problem areas are going to be socks as well as jackets with zippers and t-shirts that need to fit over the head.
5. Keep at it
It’s going to take a while for your little one to learn how to correctly dress herself and you need to give her this time. Make a habit out of getting dressed and make it part of the routine. If you are in a rush and need to take over, explain that this is what is happening so she doesn’t think you are taking away her freedom.
Like any toddler task, you can expect a few tears of frustration and anger along the way especially if the garment gets stuck. Explain to her that this is all part of learning how to get dressed and offer plenty of encouragement along the way.