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Why getting dressed is an important skill for children

Dressing is a very important skill.

Children need to develop many complex motor patterns to be able to manipulate the clothing and their body to put clothes on. They practice getting dressed often so they learn it.

When should children start dressing themselves

Before children can learn to dress themselves, they have to be able to take off socks, shoes, and pants.At about 18 months, children will start  to undressing themselves because this is an easier skill. This is why you often find a nude child running around the house. They don’t usually learn to start putting their clothes back on until about 2 1/2 to 3 years of age. They usually starts with simple clothes that don’t have buttons or zippers.

What skills do children need to dress themselves?

To be able to dress independently children need to be able to:

  • Hand eye coordination-  your child can judge where to place their body and limbs. Then they can get them through the sleeve on the shirt or the leg on the pants
  • Midline crossing and trunk rotation- your child can hold the clothing with one hand, rotate their body and put the clothing on with the other hand
  • Balance-  your child can stand on one foot. While the other half of the body is moving they can put pants on
  • Fine motor skills- Your child uses press duds, buttons and laces
  • Motor planning – Your child plans multiple movements

Think about all the different movements children make when they put clothes on. Give them the opportunity to improve their skills by supporting them to dress themselves. They feel a strong sense of success and independence when they learn to dress them selves. It is an important psychological and emotional milestone. When children learn to dress themselves, it also improves other movement based activities.

My child can’t dress themselves?

If you are concerned about your child, then call our Occupational Therapists at our Bondi Junction clinic,  on (02) 80657837. You can also email us at info@oneononechildren.com.au. An Occupational Therapy assessment will show us why your child isn’t getting dressed independently and what can be done about it

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