Developing Dressing Skills for Kids

Getting dressed is an important occupation in a child’s daily life. Teaching your child how to get dressed by themselves can be rewarding and exciting. It can also be frustrating, time-consuming, and overwhelming.

Dressing requires motor planning, fine and gross motor skills, spatial awareness of front and back as well as cognitive skills like sequencing and problem-solving. This can be frustrating for any child, and even more so a child with a disability.

Not only is it helpful when a child can dress him or herself, but it’s also beneficial to the child in many ways —
they work on building up strength, range of motion, coordination, memory, sequencing, spatial awareness, and body awareness, as well as learn how to complete
a daily activity that is important and meaningful to them.

Teach the first step last…
It is important to promote a feeling of achievement during the process of getting dressed. An ideal way to accomplish this is to let your child complete the last step of the task by themselves.

For example, you can help your child to get their arms into both armholes of their t-shirt and help them to pull it over their head. Then let them pull the shirt down over their tummy without your help. This effectively lets them “finish” the task alone, which will help them to feel like they’ve achieved something.

Once they have mastered the last step (pulling the shirt down), teach them the second
last step (putting it over their head) etc.

Practice with bands and loops
Tie a length of Theraband in a loop. Make the loop large enough that it will fit around the widest part of the child’s body. Have the child take the loop of Theraband and pull it over his head and down over his entire body to his feet and back up again! See how quickly he can do it and repeat several times for practice.

Make smaller loops with the Theraband and have the child pull them onto and off of his feet to practice with putting on and taking off shoes and socks

Sit Down…
This alleviates the challenge of balancing on one leg when attempting to do lower body dressing

Play dress up
Make sure clothes are presented in a sequence and are the right way round

How to Modify Dressing to Promote Independence

October 2022

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