One of the first tasks most children try is getting dressed on their own. They feel proud and excited when they dress themselves, and they look to their parents for approval.
There’s no need to try convincing or teaching your young child to dress herself because most children express an interest in the activity on their own. First, your child will learn to take off her shoes, socks, and pants, since children are able to take their clothes off before they can put them on. By age three, she may want to do most of her own dressing (excluding snaps and buttons), although her clothes will often be inside out or backwards. By the time she’s four or five, she’ll be able to dress herself completely with little help.
When your child begins dressing herself, she may be frustrated by zippers, snaps, buttons, and shirts with small neck openings. Even though she can’t master these, she may insist on trying, a situation that often leads to anger and tantrums. You might want to avoid difficult clothes and buy pull-on pants and tops until she’s ready to use fasteners.
As your child learns to dress herself, she may want to practice her new skills by changing her clothes several times a day, creating piles of clothing to clean up or launder. She also may want to choose her own clothes, sometimes picking the same easy-to-put-on outfit over and over, or choosing clothes that don’t fit well, don’t match, or are inappropriate for the weather or the occasion.
As long as you’re staying inside, there’s no need to make an issue out of how she looks. But at times when you want her to look nice or dress appropriately for the weather, you may end up struggling over her choices.