Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tips for Teaching a Child Dressing Skills


When children learn how to dress themselves it is a huge accomplishment. Independent dressing is a skill that needs to taught and practiced. Here are some tips for teaching a child how to dress:

1. Children will usually learn to undress first. Remember to allow children practice time to undress. Praise them for being independent when undressing (if appropriate).

2. Be patient. Do not try to teach dressing skills if you are in a rush. It takes children a long time to dress themselves. Perhaps pick out clothes the night before to eliminate one step.

3. Provide verbal cues as necessary. Try to use the wording on each step by step direction for consistency. As the child becomes more independent, reduce the verbal cues until they can be discontinued completely.

4. Try teaching dressing using backward chaining. Backward chaining means that an adult provides assistance throughout several steps until the child can complete the last steps independently. For example - you help the child hold shirt, put arm through, put overhead and put other arm through. The child then completes the last step independently of pulling the shirt down. Continue this process by advancing to the child completing the last two steps...then last three steps...etc until the child is independently putting on the shirt.

5. If you are not sure where to start, try the easiest items first - elastic shorts, elastic pants or shirts without buttons.

6. Lay the clothes out in the proper order and direction for the child. Make sure all the clothes are turned right side out.

7. Practice dressing skills with larger dress up items to increase motivation levels.

8. Model the steps by dressing a doll first. The child can practice dressing and undressing dolls or stuffed toys.

9. If the child is sensitive to clothing, try cutting tags out of the shirts or purchasing seamless clothing. Try washing the clothes several times before wearing.

10. If the child needs complete assistance for certain steps, try doing hand over hand to complete that step until the child becomes more independent.

11. Once the child can complete the dressing tasks independently, practice the skills in different environments (i.e. bathroom versus bedroom) or with different types of clothing (i.e. tighter fitting versus looser fitting).

12. Try practicing getting dressed in front of the mirror unless it confuses the child.

13. Try completing the dressing skills in sitting on the floor or on a bench if it is too difficult in standing.

14. If the child has one side of the body weaker or tighter than the other, dress that side first. If undressing, remove the weaker/ tighter side last.



Dressing Skills - Step By Step Visual Directions to Teach Children How to Dress

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Dressing Skills Rubrics

Quantify dressing and undressing skills with 21 rubrics to assess dressing skills.

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2 comments:

Deb Chitwood said...

Great tips ... and I love your visual directions! I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page and added your post link to my Montessori-Inspired Activities for Care of Self at http://livingmontessorinow.com/2012/04/10/montessori-inspired-activities-for-care-of-self/

Your Therapy Source Inc said...

Thanks for sharing!