Learning to get dressed can be an exciting time for your children as they gain more independence in their daily routines and activities. However, dressing can also be difficult to learn for some kids turning it into a frustrating part of the day for parents. Mornings tend to be the most stressful time of day as everyone is getting ready for work, school, etc. and if your child has difficulty getting dressed and ready for the day, it can be tricky!
Here are some tips from our occupational therapists to help smoothen your mornings with your kids:
1) Create a morning schedule – children benefit greatly from having structure, so creating a morning routine can be so helpful in getting your child dressed. You can create a visual schedule or begin enforcing a morning routine to complete tasks at the same time every day. For example, first, they eat breakfast, then brush their teeth, and then get dressed. Following a routine can help to set expectations so your child will know when it is time to get dressed.
2) Provide choices – giving your child 2-3 choices of each clothing item to choose from provides them with a sense of control and independence. Having this sense of control can be motivating for them to get dressed! I can also be helpful to pick and layout their outfit the night before leaving more time in the morning to get dressed!
3) Modify the clothing items – if certain clothing items are too difficult for your child, try to change and modify that item to make it easier. For example, purchase a slightly larger size, buy slip-on shoes, use elastic band pants, or buy clothing without clothing fasteners. This way while your child is learning it will be easier for them and as they learn and develop, you can then move towards those trickier clothing items.
4) Allow for additional time – if you are working on increasing your child’s independence it may take a few tries for your child to get their clothes on so allow extra time so that your child and you don’t feel rushed or frustrated. The more practice the better! The weekends or evenings before bed can be the perfect time to practice dressing skills since there is no school or work to worry about. When practicing, focus on one clothing piece at a time so that it is less overwhelming for the child until they are more efficient. For example, you can get them dressed in everything but their shirt and then spend time focusing on putting on/taking off a shirt.
5) Make it fun! – If dressing is a daunting and non-preferred task for your child – then make it fun! Create a fun obstacle course that they go through to collect clothing items, use a timer to see how fast they can get dressed, sing a song while getting dressed, or purchase clothing items with their favorite characters on them.
Dressing doesn’t have to be a stressful or daunting task with your children. Following these tips can help to create a more positive and supportive environment for your children during their morning routines and hopefully make getting dressed a breeze!
If your child is having difficulty with dressing skills contact Chicago Occupational Therapy or call (773) 980-0300 to learn more about our services and how we can help your child flourish and grow.