Teaching Independence: Clothing

August 12, 2010 at 12:49 pm Leave a comment

I have a confession: I do too much for my children.  


I know, I know, that’s what we’re supposed to do as parents, right?  Sure.  But we’re also supposed to foster independence and self-sufficiency in our kids by teaching them how to do things for themselves. 

And on this point, I’ve been a bit behind the curve with my three-year-old.  

It’s a natural tendency, especially for first-time mothers.  We don’t always know what things our children should be able to do for themselves at what ages.  We have a natural instinct to help our children and make things easy for them.  And sometimes, just doing it ourselves requires a lot less time and patience than waiting for our children to accomplish something (like getting dressed or putting on their shoes) on their own.  

I’ve come to realize, though, that teaching my children how to do things for themselves actually does make my life easier.  It may require some time and effort invested upfront, but in the long run the payoff will be great.  

Lately I’ve been working with Alissa, my three-year-old, on getting herself through her morning routine – getting dressed, brushing teeth, making her bed, getting breakfast.  The first part of this routine – getting dressed – has required some reorganizing and rethinking on my part.  Here are some things I’ve done to make it easier for her:

1.  Put clothes away as outfits.  When Alissa was a baby, many of her little dresses came with bloomers – matching underpants to cover up her diaper.  I went to Target and bought plastic clips in the laundry section, and used a plastic clip to hang up the bloomers with the dress.  This way I didn’t have to dig through drawers, searching for the bloomers.  

Now that she picks out her own outfit, I use those same clips to hang up pants or skirts with tops.  Now all she has to do is go to her closet, pick out what she wants to wear, and pull the entire outfit out.  It saves time and I know she’s color-coordinated, at least until she dons her first princess costume of the day.

2.  Hang clothes where they can reach them.  My daughter’s closet has two rods to hang clothes on: a high one and a low one.  Hanging them down low mean Alissa can reach in and pick things out.  It also means she can help me put the clean outfits away.  

3.  Arrange dresser drawers for easy reach.  This was such an easy thing, yet it hadn’t occurred to me until recently.  If your child has a tall dresser, put the items they frequently need – underwear, jammies, etc. – in the lower drawers.  

4.  Use hooks for jackets, coats, and backpacks.  Hangers can be tricky for little hands.  (Heck, I even have problems with them from time to time!)   Put hooks in a bedroom, backside of a closet door, or in a mudroom for easy on, easy off.  

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the daily routine and not realize our kids are ready to take a step towards independence.  However, teaching our kids to be self-sufficient may mean we can make more time for ourselves.  Maybe you can even enjoy an extra cup of coffee in the morning while your child gets dressed! 
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Entry filed under: Independent Kids.

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