Most children are able to dress themselves by age 4 or 5. Even before your child can get dressed alone, you can start teaching the skills your child will need. Getting dressed helps your child learn to think logically and feel independent. It also helps to improve motor skills.
After your child is able to get dressed without your help, here are ways to encourage your child to get dressed within a reasonable amount of time.
All children get distracted from dressing by other things (siblings, toys, or pets). Set reasonable rules about dressing. Possible rules are:
Be consistent. Follow through with the “time-out” if your child refuses to get dressed or throws a tantrum.
At first, praise your child often for mastering the tasks involved in dressing. Once she is able to dress herself on her own, you don’t need to continue the praise. Greet her with a big smile and acknowledge her for arriving at the breakfast table on time.
Learning how to tie shoes usually takes longer than learning other dressing skills. Children often have a hard time tying shoes. Have your child put the shoes on and you tie them until your child offers to help and can use her fingers on something as tricky as shoelaces.
Review progress weekly with your child. If your child continues to have problems, talk with your child’s healthcare provider.