Increasing Independence with Dressing

Guest Authored By Kristian S, MS, OTR/L

While quarantine has disrupted our morning routines, and kids are wanting to stay in their pajamas longer, now is actually a great time to work on dressing! The change in routine and less pressure to get out the door on time may allow you more opportunities to work with your child to help increase their independence with dressing. Below are a few strategies you can incorporate into your child’s daily routine to help maximize their skills! 

Dressing Milestones:

AgeDressing Skill
1Cooperates with dressing by holding out arms and legs
Removes socks
2.5Removes pull-down pants with elastic waist
Puts on front-buttoning coat or shirt
Unbuttons large buttons
3Puts on pullover shirt with some help
Puts on socks
Zips/Unzips jacket once on track
Independently removes pants
3.5Buttons 3-4 buttons
Dresses with supervision and help to orient clothes
4Removes pullover clothing
Buckles shoes or belt
Puts on shoes and socks
5Ties and unties knots
Dresses independently

Case-Smith, J., & O’Brien, J. C. (2014). Occupational therapy for children and adolescents-e-book. Elsevier Health Sciences.

Eyas Landing and child tying shoes

  1. Offer your child choices 
    1. Let your child pick their socks or t-shirt for the day. They will be more excited to participate when they feel included and in control.
  2. Start small 
    1. Don’t expect your child to put on all of their clothing items on the first attempt. Try starting with just a t-shirt or just their shoes and slowly add more items into the routine. 
  3. Practice on the weekend 
    1. Still feel rushed in the morning? Try practicing on the weekends when you have more time for your child to work through the task!  
  4. Play Dress-up 
    1. Get out old clothes or costumes and encourage your child to put them on. Slightly bigger clothes can be easier to put on and make for great dress-up outfits! Your child will have fun and work on challenging skills. 
  5. Create a visual schedule or checklist 
    1. Visual supports can help your child stay on task and know what step comes next. They are also a great way to fade away assistance. You can cue your child to look at their visual schedule to complete the activity.  
  6. Watch a video or demonstrate 
    1. Some children learn best by role models! You can get dressed with your child or watch a video to better demonstrate how to get dressed.  
  7. Set your child up for success 
    1. Dressing can be a frustrating activity for many children! Break down the activity into multiple steps and have your child complete the last step. For example, you can help your child orient their pants, place their feet into the leg holes, pull their pants up a little and then encourage your child to do the last step of pulling it over their hips. They will more likely want to participate if they feel successful in the activity! 

Eyas Landing is a therapy clinic with a mission to provide evidence-based and family-centered therapy services for children, adolescents, and their families. The primary goal is to deliver relationship-based interventions within the most natural environments and to empower families to reach their full potential. To achieve this goal, our highly educated, compassionate staff dedicates time and expertise to create experiences that maximize therapeutic outcomes. The strength, determination, and perseverance of our clients are evident as they succeed in therapy, and ultimately in their daily lives.

Eyas Landing offers a wide range of comprehensive services including Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, ABA Therapy, Social Work, Family Therapy, and Neuropsych testing. Services are provided throughout the Chicagoland area via Telehealth, In-Home, and in our state of the art clinic.

Want to learn more or you have a specific question? Feel free to connect with us here!