Self-Dressing: A Stepping Stone to Independence
Watching my children learn to dress themselves will often bring me proud moments of seeing them discover their independence and personal style, other moments of laugher when they have their shoes on the wrong feet, and many moments that downright test my patience when I want to jump in and say, “let me just help you.”
When we take a step back and examine all that is involved in self-dressing, we can see the incredible benefits that make it worth the little extra time and patience called upon. Self-dressing is a physiological and emotional milestone that can lead to a more confident, independent and coordinated child and that is why at Snickerdoos we love encouraging it!
Below I explore some of the benefits of self-dressing, as well as share some tips!
It all starts with a child’s discovery and selection of what they like and what they want to wear. What is their favorite color or style and how does it make them feel? Next comes the cognitive exercise and understanding the sequence of putting on clothing and to think of how seasons, temperatures and activities affect what should be worn. Lifting their arms up and legs in specific coordinated motions to get into shirts over head or pant legs on call upon gross motor skills. Sports aren’t the only exercise! ;) And then being able to use their fingers to manipulate small objects like zippers, buttons, laces, and buckles, they will be practicing their fine motor skills.
With each step of self-dressing, frustrations can arise—clothes do not always fit the desired way or a child can become challenged by a pesky zipper or too tight sock. This is the time to offer praise, encouragement and helpful guidance, giving them the opportunity to show us and themselves that they can indeed do hard things.
A few tips for supporting a self-dressing child:
- Offer Limited Choices: Offer a few appropriate choices from a few tops to a few bottoms. This will minimize the amount of time it can take a child to select an outfit.
- Minimize Frustrations: Look for loose fitting clothing and avoid zippers and laces for the early stages of self-dressing.
- Break Down the Tasks: Think about the steps to put on pair of pants and help by gently guiding them or offer an arm to balance on.
At Snickerdoos, we love taking opportunities to encourage a child’s independence from experimenting with self-dressing to exploring pretend play. That is why all of our costumes are one-piece designs from easy pull overs tops to slip on rompers. No to limited parent participation needed here!