Why It’s Important for your Child to Dress Themselves
It’s bittersweet when you hear your little one say “I can do this by myself.” Sometimes they begin to show their independence before they start using language; like holding their bottle or sippy cup or washing their hands by themselves. When it comes to dressing themselves, some little ones follow that independence instinct right away, while some may need a bit more encouragement.
Here are some reasons why it’s important for your little one to dress themselves, as well as some parenting tips to make this newfound independence easier on everyone:
When little ones start to enter their “I can do it” era, it’s the perfect time to encourage self-care practices. Odds are you tend to be the one to pick out the outfits or help your little one get dressed and ready for the day. Encourage your little one to help you pick out their outfit. Piece by piece, have them try to put on each item of clothing by themselves. If they put it on backwards, or you see them getting their head stuck in an arm hole, feel free to give them a hand and help them figure it out.
If you find yourself on social media, you may often see grown-ups asking their little ones to help build their little ones’ outfit for the day. This is a great exercise in decision-making. Giving them options (two is good), and allowing them to pick not only gives them the opportunity to choose what they want to wear, but it also reminds them that their ideas matter! Say they put their shirt on backwards and are very resistant to flip it around. That battle may not be worth it; it may not be the proper way to wear that shirt, but is it actively hurting anyone? Probably not. And who knows, they may start a new trend! Let your little one be a little one.
Teaching your little one how to dress and undress themselves is also a chance to practice consent, or the importance of respecting their “yes” and “no.” As they start to dress by themselves, you can ask “would you like help putting this on?” or “is it okay if I help you take that off?” Especially when you are used to dressing them and taking them to the bathroom, it’s important to start teaching them to speak up for themselves when they may be uncomfortable. It takes time, but all you have to do is start asking. They will catch on, and as it is practiced, they learn what they can do by themselves and when they need to ask for help.
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Hi, I'm Miss Julia!
Miss Julia has been an early childhood educator for 5 years, with over 10 years of experience working in childcare. She has been teaching at Playgarden Prep since 2017, and is happy to share ideas on some of her favorite early education topics with you! Miss Julia has a BA from UC Irvine, and uses her experience in performing arts to inspire little ones every day in her enrichment classes at Playgarden. In her free time, Miss Julia loves enjoying nature, cooking, and creating with friends.