Teaching a toddler to dress themselves

On a recent dinner date with some girlfriends, I had everyone at the table in stitches by telling them my latest parenting struggle. I usually hold back on talking about my son because it’s only myself and one other girl in the group who has any children and frankly, it’s nice to talk about other things! However, I had to ask the other mum in the group if her daughter could dress herself. Yes was the answer. Apparently teaching a toddler to dress themselves is not an issue for all parents.

Another friend asked if my little boy could dress himself. He can just about take his coat off! He is two years and nine months old. I don’t feel like I have encouraged him to rely on me for dressing, undressing and the putting on and taking off of shoes. He either wears wellies or plimsoles with a velcro strap fastening. Still, when I try to get him to put his wellies on by himself, he tries to step into them, he falls over. He says ‘I can’t do it’. He tries to pull them on from a sitting position but is not strong enough, he stands up with the boot half on to tries to push his foot down into them. They flop to the side, he twists his ankle. He’s now over it.

I do help him, but sometimes I wonder if I will be dressing him when he is going off to work. When it comes to clothes, he is very uninterested. He can climb. he can do puzzles, he can count to ten, he enjoys all of the above. When I broach the subject of getting dressed in the morning, he runs away. I really do have to make a song and dance of it. Pants he ends up with both legs in one whole. (And I can tell he’s thinking ‘that’ll do fine’). T-shirt, the furthest he’s got is his head through the top along with an arm until he’s is stuck. Even I can’t get him out of that without a struggle. Socks, it’s as if he has no bones or muscle in his fingers. Jeans, where do I start, they’re back to front, he’s trying to put his foot up through the foot hole, *sighs.

With potty training, bed time routine, eating habits, and the like, I expected to need some strategy. With dressing, I am so surprised that he hasn’t just sort of picked it up along the way. I just found this article http://bit.ly/1aVmIAZ – it looks like helpful advice. I will try it out, maybe in conjunction with a good old sticker chart. Or maybe buy him a wardrobe full of Thomas the Tank engine clothes?


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