1. Always teach taking off/removal of clothing items first to increase self-confidence
Teaching a child something as simple as removing their shoe will quickly strike their own independent interest to figure out how it can go back on. Once they learn how to take clothing items off, they begin to feel more confident in their ability to put it back on or dress themselves (even if they totally can't.) Confidence and self-determination are 90% of the game!
2. Get dressed with them
Kids learn best by modeling. Monkey see, monkey do! Processing and following multiple auditory steps (aka words and commands) can be overwhelming when attempting a new skill. If you're learning to don a shirt, both of you can don a shirt together, side by side.
3. Break EVERYTHING down into simple steps
When speaking, always use short and simple words & give everything a label/name (i.e. "arm hole" "head hole" "tongue")
4. Compliment verbal commands with a visual of each step i.e. dressing cards or pictures.
I love visuals for helping kids learn to dress, especially for visual learners (hey boy moms!). A visual dressing card is a picture drawn or print out showing each step of dressing. Again, auditory processing of verbal commands can be overwhelming, hence the pictures. You can draw your own pictures or you can use a dressing book/card. Stay tuned for a follow up post on dressing cards.
5. To practice donning/putting on, use VERY LARGE size when first learning
Do I need to explain this one? Larger holes = greater success and less frustration. Once they get the concept, you can then attempt teaching in a regular size. The great thing about this for me has been, the larger the size, the longer they will actually fit in them as we all know they grow like weeds!
6. Practice when you're not in a hurry to get out the door
Practice on a non scheduled day when there is no pressure on either of you.
7. Have them sit down.
This takes out the need for them to balance themselves and try to use their core the entire time. Floor sitting or a small kids step stool is ideal ideal.
8. Teach orientation of clothing items (i.e. front, back, side, top, bottom)
This one is huge! It should have been number 1 huge. Have them identify the front vs back and all of the correct holes for placement of extremities. Also teach them to always find the tags!
9. Use a mirror!
After dressing is completed, its always nice to have them double check themselves so they can see if they have left any items twisted (or backwards)
10. Be patient and make dressing fun!
**Tips and tricks
Okay so I have a few more OT tricks up my sleeve for more individual clothing items.
Shoe orientation: Having trouble finding correct shoe orientation (left vs right?) Do the BIG V vs little v test. Correctly placed shoes will make a little v at the top, incorrectly placed will make a BIG V.
Are your straps holding hands? Another way is with velcro shoes, have them place the straps so they touch eachother to make sure they're correct. I say "are the straps holding hands?" I usually get giggles, sometimes blank stares. This works great for visually impaired children.
Shirt donning: place shirt at eye/chest level (think on a bed or a table) in front of the child while standing. Have child first place shirt correctly by finding the tag (face down).
Socks: The hardest dressing skill besides shoe tying in my opinion. This always helps. Have them find their thumbs by showing them "both thumbs up" and then "ok now put both thumbs in". Then show them how to scrunch sock up first using their thumbs. Very large socks (think husbands work socks) are very effective to teach sock donning. Ankle socks are then next best option because their is less sock to gather/scrunch. Another idea for kids who get their socks twisted is to buy socks with lines on toes and colored heels.
Shoe tying: Sorry all, this topic is its own post in itself, stay tuned!
I hope you all found this information helpful in making you and your little ones more successful at learning dressing together. May your coffee be strong and your morning routines run smoothly!