We all have to learn somewhere, but many do not realize that even a child as young as two wants to learn the everyday task of daily life around them, especially if there are older siblings in the house. You may wonder how to even start training your child in dressing themselves and what are some easy tips to eliminate frustration and discouragement in both the parent and the child during the training. Here are the steps I took when training my children, at a very early age (even before their second birthday):
1. Lay their pants or pajamas on the floor and train them to sit down on the floor. Carefully, placing one foot in one leg of the pants and then the other. Be sure to offer assistance if the child seems frustrated and encourage even the smallest accomplishment.
2. Once both of the legs are in the right places in the pants or pajamas, have the child carefully stand up. After they are standing, have them work to pull the pants up first in the front and then in the back, a little at a time. At this stage, the child may need to move in a circle (capture it on video for a wonder memory with laughter) or even step in the direction of the pulling. Offer assistance when you see frustration beginning, not afterwards, as the goal is to have accomplishments at each stage of the process. The more praises the more positive memory of the training and more likely the desire to continue the training.
3. Once the pants are all the way up, CELEBRATE and give the child a sense of accomplish before moving forward!
4. Next you want to lay the shirt face down on something near the child's waist, this can even be your lap. You will want to explain, or even demonstrate how this part is done, as it is more difficult than the pants. First, the child will need to lift the bottom of the shirt and separate it with his other arm, while putting it in the sleeve. Once that arm is in the proper sleeve, he will then add his second arm to the other sleeve.
5. After both arms are in the right sleeves, the child will then lift the back part of the shirt and pull it over the head until he can see through the head of the shirt.
6. Getting the head through the shirt may prove to be the hardest part of all of the dressing training, but remember to assist before frustration becomes too much and praise all the way through it. To get the head all the way through the hole, have your child pull on the front of the shirt, with both hands and/or have them pull at the hole to aid the head through. Both methods may be useful and at times, you may need just one.
7. Celebrating the head getting through the hole can prove to be so important, but the task isn't quite completed at this point. The child will then need to pull down the shirt to cover his belly and his lower back.
8. Once the shirt is pulled down, the child would have been accomplished in his chore of dressing himself and will need to be praised through and through. My son has been known to enjoy his ‘happy dance' when he first began to learn this skill of independence and training for things that will become a part of his daily routines.
Throughout the day, you may even want to praise him to others that you talk to or come across while you are out. The more excitement that is associated with this large accomplishment, the more likely that he will be encourage to continue in this training and find ways to overcome his struggles in the process. Before you know it, you will have a very independence toddler who will take pride in his training, all the while your are skillfully building his confidence for other task that he will face throughout his life…. and you through you were only teaching your child to dress himself!
I would love to hear from you! Let me know if you have other issues you are attempting to overcome and train your toddler (or older children) in but struggling with finding success. I would love to help you out!