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The Importance of Letting Toddlers Dress Themselves

The Importance of Letting Toddlers Dress Themselves

Posted by Talia Goldfarb on

Busy mornings with little ones can be hectic. It’s always a challenge to get ready and out the door on time when it seems like our tiny humans are conspiring against us(!). Their intention isn’t to derail our mornings, but we know that is often exactly what happens.

What if there was a way you could make mornings less crazy while teaching your children important life skills along the way?

Well, there is! 

By handing over the responsibility of routine tasks to your little ones, you are freeing yourself up to complete other important things. Divide and conquer. Of course, this requires an upfront investment of time and effort on your part.

It starts by teaching little ones how to choose appropriate clothing and get themselves dressed. This eventually evolves into them taking on more responsibility, leading to less stressful mornings.

Teaching life skills is important and, ironically, a lifelong journey. But, it’s one that can be started from the very beginning. 

Here, we’re specifically going to address the importance of teaching kids to dress themselves, but it goes far beyond this specific chore.

What are the benefits of teaching this from an early age? You are encouraging independence, building fine and gross motor skills, and boosting self-confidence. 

Here’s how.

Encouraging Independence

Independence is a trait we all want to nurture in our children. 

After all, we aren’t raising children. We are raising adults. 

But how do we accomplish this goal? It’s by letting go of the reins and giving them a little more control.

When you let kids pick out their own clothes and dress themselves, you are allowing them opportunities every day to practice crucial skills. By extending this freedom, you are giving them the gift of independence in a safe space and an outlet to explore their budding creative side.

Fashion is a wonderful way for people of all ages to express their individuality. When we hand over this task to our kids, we are saying that we trust them and believe that they are capable.

Establish some guidelines

One important thing to remember here is that you are still the parent. It’s key to establish some guidelines from the get-go to make this process as smooth as possible. Here are a few tips.

  • To prevent fights on busy mornings, make it clear what clothing your children have access to and what is to be saved for special occasions. You can hang special clothing in the closet and put everyday clothes in a clearly-labeled dresser that is easy for kids to reach. (Labeling with pictures is key here!)
  • Keep it weather appropriate. Make sure you change clothes out each season so that your child’s choices are limited to what you are okay with them wearing. 
  • Teach your child how to dress appropriately for a variety of occasions. Though they are young, this is possible by giving them 2-3 “mom-approved” outfits to choose from. 

Building Fine and Gross Motor Skills

By allowing kids to take on the physical task of dressing themselves, you are giving them the chance each and every day to practice this important life skill. Zipping zippers, buttoning buttons, and slipping on socks takes a large amount of finesse for tiny hands. They will probably need some help, but practice makes perfect!

Getting dressed uses just about every muscle in a child’s body. It helps them with balance, coordination, flexibility, and strength. The more they can do themselves, the more those muscles and motor skills are becoming stronger and better developed every single day.  

Teaching them to dress themselves

Your toddler won’t just wake up one day fully capable of getting ready in the morning all by themselves. It takes time, practice, and patience. You’ve got to commit to giving yourself extra time in the morning and not getting frustrated when your child takes longer to learn a skill than you think necessary.  And of course, a Myself Belt can play a vital role in helping this process along more smoothly!

Our belts allow toddlers to dress and undress independently in the morning and at night. This really comes in handy during the oh-so-fun potty training years when dressing and undressing happen far more frequently. 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy to teaching independence in the morning routine. What’s important is that you are consistent and work with your little one every day. It takes more time than just wrestling them into whatever is hanging in the closet without a second thought as you are running out the door late for work - again. You have to be intentional and realize that this will be an imperfect process but, in the end, you and your toddler will both reap the rewards.

They will be capable of dressing themselves independently and you may even have time for a second cup of coffee when all is said and done! 

Boosting Self-Confidence

Another benefit to toddlers taking a more independent role in their morning routine is a huge boost to their self-confidence. When they realize they are capable of picking out their clothes and dressing by themselves, they understand that with practice and hard work, learning a new skill is completely within their reach - even at the tender age of 2.

By investing this time in our children each morning, we are showing that we believe in them. It seems like a small thing, but the end result is absolutely worth it.

Inspiring our kids to rise to new challenges

Though this article covers teaching kids to tackle the morning routine solo, it’s truly about so much more. When we treat kids as if they are capable, we are empowering them to rise to any challenge. 

Let’s equip our kids with the tools they need to be successful in the younger years and beyond.

What it all comes down to…..

What it all comes down to is this. Children are wonderful and capable creatures - at any age. When we respect their abilities, they’ll go above and beyond and exceed our expectations again and again.

As parents, it should be our goal to “work ourselves out of a job”, so to speak. This starts when they are itty-bitty. We can offer autonomy, even then.

What new habits can you start, even today, to encourage independence in your little one’s morning routine?

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