Dressing Themselves


A child learning how to self dress themselves uses so many different skills.  A child being able to dress themselves is such an important psychological and emotional milestone.  These skills included gross motor: lifting arms and legs in specific coordinated motions into shirt sleeves and pant legs, and balancing to take off shoes and pants.  Fine motor: being able to use fingers to manipulate small objects (zippers, buttons buckles, and laces)

Cognitive: being able to understand the sequence of putting on clothing and to think about how seasons and temperature affect what should be worn.

Before he masters the art of dressing, you should expect him to undress first and take off socks, shoes, and pants. “Around 18 months of age, and sometimes even younger, toddlers will start undressing themselves because it doesn’t require as much skills.  Once the child does start to wear clothes on his own, don’t be surprised or disappointed if he wears his shirt backward, instead recognize his effort as a job well done.

If the child isn’t dressing themselves by 30 months, ask yourself, “Am I always pitching in and doing it for him? If the answer is “yes”, the solution might be as simple as giving him the space to fiddle with buttons and zippers on his own.  But if your child still seems to be struggling with taking off socks and shoes (if he still can’t pull off a sock after a significant amount of time or has a poor grip), he may have decreased strength and motor planning or sensory issues.

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