Parenting: Teaching Preschoolers to Dress Themselves

November 18, 2010

She brought in the jacket, laid it open on the floor, then bent down, put in her arms, flipped it over her head and put it on all by herself. I was amazed. After all, this is a trick I didn't teach her. She learned it in preschool. More and more, Emma is wanting to dress ALL BY HERSELF.

Who am I to argue?

But, allowing preschoolers to dress themselves can make a chaotic morning even crazier. Most times, it is much easier to simply dress your preschooler, rather than allowing them the extra time to dress themselves. But, child development experts say, by learning to dress and undress themselves, children are not only learning independence, they are also working on improving their motor skills and logical thinking.

There are a lot of things you can do to make self-dressing easier. First of all, buy simple clothing. Clothes that have snaps, zippers and buttons can be reserved for special occasions. Pants with elastic waistbands and loose T-shirts are the best way to go in the beginning. With Emma, we have plenty of skirts with elastic waistbands and slip on dresses with roomy armholes. We buy a size bigger. Not only to make them last longer, but make it easier for Emma to put them on. I use the "bunny ears" method I learned when I was young. You make two loops, "bunny ears," cross the ears, then pull one ear under the X and do it again. Luke has learned just to leave his shoes tied and just slip him on and off.

Some things you definitely need to have when preschoolers start dressing themselves is loads of patience and a good sense of humor. They may not look perfect, it may take extra time, but your children aren't young very long. So, enjoy the ride.

Happy parenting! Cecily

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