Dressing For Independence – Discovering The Educational Value In Girls And Boys Clothes

Encouraging independence is a crucial part of helping your child develop and grow as an individual. You can help your child become more independent and confident by encouraging them to perform simple daily tasks by themselves such as helping to lay the table at meal times, looking after a family pet or getting dressed. Read more about it here.

One small step for mankind, one huge leap for toddlers

A normal daily task for us such as getting dressed can represent an exciting challenge for a toddler and can help nurture important life skills such as making decisions and seeing an action through from beginning to end. Mastering such tasks and developing these skills will also provide your child with a huge sense of achievement.

As parents and carers we should not overlook or underestimate the learning and developmental opportunities presented for us to share with our children as we go about our busy daily lives; This way we can integrate our hectic schedules with caring for and supporting our children in the most effective way we can.

Decisions, decisions

Let's stick with the example of getting dressed. Learning to make decisions is an important stage in any child's development, and helping them to form opinions and exercise choice in a safe environment will stand them in good stead as they progress through life. So involve them at an early stage in choosing which clothes they would like to wear. Encourage them to think about their choice and to choose appropriately by asking guidance questions; 'What's the weather like? Do you think it's warm or cold outside? ' etc. If you have time explore the reasons for their choice, encouraging them to express their likes and dislikes and taking the opportunity to broaden their vocabulary by getting them to describe the clothes ('It feels soft and comfortable', 'The label's a bit scratchy' etc). Where possible let their choice win – what does it matter if the trousers they have chosen do not color coordinate perfectly with the top? If you're worried about the time involved to achieve all this in your tight morning schedule then you could always choose clothes together the night before when sometimes you have more time and are more relaxed.

Motoring ahead to independence

Once the clothes have been chosen, all the buttons, zippers and poppers will have your little one's fine motor skills working overtime. In fact children tend to learn how to get undressed before they learn how to get dressed as they can pull their way out of most things, but getting into them in the first place takes a lot more practice! These fine motor skills require small muscle movement and concentration. Teaching them means time and patience so be sure to leave enough time while encouraging them to get more hands on.

Be aware that your child is likely to experience frustration, a sense of being overwhelmed and possibly failure but approach the task as an opportunity to help them work through these complex feelings with encouragement and support. Your praise is vital. To ease the way as they start to learn to dress themselves you could also choose simple clothes with minimal buttons and fastenings. All this may mean getting up an extra 5 minutes earlier but it will be worth it as you help your toddler develop these all important skills, work through these emotions and are ever rewarded with their beam of accomplishment when they have finally got completely dressed by themselves .

A sense of identity

Your child's clothing can help foster a sense of independence in another important way. What we choose to wear and how we present ourselves to others helps both shape and represent our identity. A child who has been encouraged to be free thinking from an early age is likely to have a clear idea of ​​self and the clothes that they choose to wear can help contribute to this.

Other learning activities with your children's clothing include encouraging them to help tidy up and put away, sorting out the washing into piles of light and dark colors, loading up washing machine and hanging the washing out to dry. All this demonstrates how your child's clothing can have more value than just surface value if you just take a bit of time to understand the importance of the role it can play in your child's development and have the imagination to apply it to your day to day lives .

Kids Should be Kids.