Toddler Learning To Dress: Getting started

When toddlers learn to dress it can take a LOOOOOOONG time. DD has been developing this skill for over a year now. We started when she was two with easy things like putting on her own wellies and taking off her coat. But as time has moved on we have come across some great ideas that have helped DD (and us), which I would like to share with you now.

  1. Make there wardrobe accessible to them: This has been a huge help! Allowing the toddler to have access to their own cloths gives them a sense of independence and control which in turn  helps them feel calmer. When playing at home I allow DD to take out any of her cloths and try them on. It is a fun game for her and helps her practice her dressing skills. (However she knows she also has to tidy up as well). When getting dressed to go out  I show DD two options of clothing I would be happy for her to wear and let her pick one.38614731_10155646245167196_9159856488523497472_n
  2. Separate her socks, underwear and accessories into reachable and easily recognizable draws/tubs. Once DD has chosen her dress she can then chose the rest of her outfit with some suggestions from me. For instance ‘please can you get the yellow socks’. This also helps when tidying away as DD knows there is a draw for socks and another for her night cloths
  3. Put pegs on her shoes. Putting pegs on her shoes easily shows DD her left and her right when placed in front of her, she also greatly enjoys taking the peg off the shoes and putting it back on when she returns them.38600636_10155646245162196_134807117772095488_n
  4. Have a a full length mirror at their height. Standing in front of her mirror and getting dress is very helpful, as this allows DD to see what you/she is doing and they can enjoy the end result. This Saturday after her morning bath DD looked in the mirror and said ‘whats wrong with my hair?’ This showed me she knew when her appearance was neat and when it was not.
  5. Every thing has a place. In learning to get dressed we made sure DD knew where to find her cloths and where to put them once she had taken them off. She has a peg at her own height for her coat, another for her dressing gown, her own shoe shelf and laundry basket. In learning to use these small things correctly we have found this has given DD (and us) more confidence to trying more difficult tasks
  6. Start with fun cloths. Start by making getting dressed fun, we did this by using DD dressing up box and helped her put on her fancy dresses. She then loved the idea of getting dressed and would twirl in front of the mirror saying ‘I’m a princess’
  7. Have easy cloths. Only choose cloths that are easy to put on. For shoes we started with wellies then advanced to Velcro. Slip on dresses, elasticated bottoms and avoid tops with small buttons at the back.
  8. Time and patience: As I said at the start, learning to get dressed will take time and patience so don’t start learning this new skill on days when you have to be out of the house quickly. Instead start by practicing this skill at the weekend or at home when you have some free down time.
  9. Give them space. When watching your children learn this new skill it can be very temping to ‘help them’ and put their cloths on for them. But avoid this. I’ve found by sitting back and giving DD time she will get their in the end and feels a sense of great sense of achievement once she has accomplished it.  And ultimately my ‘helping her’ will only slow down the process
  10. A little at a time. If she is really struggling and asking for my help then I just give her a little, such as putting the start of her toes in one sock then she has to do the rest.
  11. If it stops being fun then stop. Do not try this skill if either of you are in a bad mood. Also as this is a new and difficult skill that your child is learning give them plenty of praise throughout. If they start getting upset take a break and come back from they are in a better mood.

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