You know the old adage: give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for the rest of his life. The same thing can be said for teaching your child how to dress him or herself. Laying out their clothing for them may be easier at first, because — let’s face it — teaching a child to do just about anything can be an exhausting exercise in patience. But, it’s worth it.
Teaching your children to dress themselves engenders confidence within them, and allows them to learn to feel comfortable expressing themselves through style. So, read on. You’re about to relinquish a little of your control to your children and let them dress themselves. Here’s how you’re going to do it:
Step 1: Foundations First
We’re talking underpants, people. Kids need to know about the importance of wearing and changing underpants regularly, so sit down and have that conversation with your child. Reiterate the lessons you’ve probably already taught them about personal hygiene and how that helps keep your body healthy. Don’t assume they make a connection between washing their hands and changing their clothes. They likely don’t. Left to their own devices, they will usually wear the same undies until you have to peel it off their bodies.
Step 2: Supply Easy Up & Over Clothing
Save buckles, snaps, buttons and belts until they’re older. Start with clothing that can easily be pulled up or over their heads. We’re talking toddler friendly tees, girls skirts, leggings, jeans with elasticated waists and hoodies sans zippers. As adults, we can often forget how difficult how finicky finishings like buttons can be tough to master at first.
Step 3: Encourage and Celebrate — DON’T Criticise
When your child first starts to dress him or herself, they’ll come up with some pretty silly looking outfits. Resist the urge to change them UNLESS they are somehow inappropriate for leaving the house, due to weather or just decency. Tell them what you love about their look, and if you have to suggest a change, explain why (e.g. you’re wearing shorts and it’s snowing) and let them know that even though they must change, they still did a great job. The last thing you want to do is make your child feel self-conscious about their clothing choices. They’re going to second guess enough in their lives. Let their childhood be a time you let them explore themselves through style.
Step 4: Fine Tune Their Fashion
Once your child has gotten the hand of dressing him or herself without assistance for a few months, you can start teaching them about style. For instance, you could encourage them to have a fashion show where you help them pick out clothing, explaining why you are pairing certain items together. For instance: “I’m putting this fancy blouse with these black pants instead of gym shorts because it is dressier and so are the pants.”
Admittedly, when they are very young, not much of your lessons will stick, but it will show them that you care about what they wear and are taking an interest in it, so this is a fantastic bonding experience.
As for the unavoidable weird outfits? Well, take heart: they’re kids, and everything looks cute on them!