Tips for Independence with Self Dressing
Teaching your child to get dressed can be stressful and seem impossible at times. Keep these tips in mind as your child works towards gaining new confidence and independence with self dressing!
- Practice self dressing tasks in environments where dressing tasks are normal such as socks/shoes before leaving/coming into the home, dressing appropriately for the weather, or lower body clothing during toileting tasks.
- Teach your child removal of clothes first
- Start large! Work with large buttons, zippers, and clothing first, and then decrease to regular size
- Use clothing with pictures on the front to help learn front/back
- Break into simple steps. Work on one step at a time and give everything a simple name when describing
- Avoid practicing when you’re in a rush! Your child will process and learn new skills better with decreased pressure
- Have them sit down. Sit on the floor or on a stool to decrease the need for balance and core strength during dressing tasks.
- Repetition, repetition, repetition!
Consider that the following skills are required for your child to gain independence in self dressing:
- Fine motor skills
- Postural control (the ability to stand upright)
- Bilateral coordination (using both sides of the body together)
- Crossing midline (moving our arms/legs to reach across the center of our body)
- Motor planning (come up with, plan, and carry out motor tasks)
- Executive functioning (the behaviors needed to plan and achieve goals)
Is your child struggling with the skills needed for self dressing? Be sure to reach out to Project Play, or to your child’s occupational therapist!
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