How to get your kids to dress themselves - without nagging!

I get a lot of emails from busy mums who are feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, always in a rush trying to get the kids dressed and ready each morning and feeling like they have to get ready for an argument every time.

I'm a big believer in encouraging independence when it comes to the kids getting dressed, and the biggest benefits are:
  • It helps with their gross motor skills (balance) and fine motor skills (buttons, zips)
  • It gives kids a sense of accomplishment as they get the hang of it
  • It frees you up and you feel like a mum, not a slave!
So today I want to share with you my tips for encouraging your kids to dress themselves every day - without nagging.
    You can read my tips below, or if if it's easier for you to listen to them, I have an audio for you too:

    First, know that it takes time and instead of trying to get them to nail it it one go, think about it long term. I like to break it down into 3 focuses: Choice of clothes, taking on and off, and putting away. You’ll start by doing it with your children and then slowly take steps back and just help when you’re asked, then it won’t be long before they can do it all themselves!

    Let’s take a look at each focus.
    • Choice of clothes: Give them freedom to choose but make sure they’re still appropriately dressed. 
      • For toddlers I like to give 2 choices of full outfits and let them choose their favourite for the day. 
      • As they get older, you let them choose a little more. So you might lay out the 2 choices but leave off the shoes and jacket and let them choose that as well. then add more choice as you go along, they choose the shirt, the pants, and over time they get the hang of choosing their own clothing. 
      • If you can, do this the night before when you’re not in a hurry. But you can do it in the morning and if you do it consistently you’ll find it gets quicker each week.
    • Taking on and off: 
      • Again here we go step by step. 
      • Taking clothes off is generally easier so that’s where I like to start. 
      • Break it down into smaller steps. So for toddlers, if you want to start with taking off pants, you break it down into ‘push pants down, sit down, take one foot out, take the other foot out’. Shirts is ’this arm up high, hold your sleeve, arm down and out, then other arm up high, hold your sleeve then arm down and out, then head.’ 
      • Those little patterns start to become automatic and then with everyday practice will get easier and easier. 
      • Once you’ve got the hang of the bigger steps, then go into smaller ones like zips and buttons.
    • Putting away
      • This is the easiest one and also the one that makes the most difference to you as a mum. 
      • When the kids are little you get used to the fact that you’re often doing most of the picking up and putting away. But once your babies are toddlers they’re more than capable of understanding where things go and how to put them there.
      • So again we break into steps. Start with getting undressed for bath or shower - and go with 2 steps, saying it as you do it together each day. ‘clothes off, into the basket’. You’ll be surprised at how quickly this will become a habit and the saying it as you do it really helps cement that neural learning pathway - the idea that the more you do something, the less you have to think about it and the easier and more normal it becomes
      • Once you’ve got that down, we go to mornings and you use your 2 clear steps again ‘get dressed, pjs under pillow.’
      • The key here really is the consistency and the activities becoming a habit rather than a chore.

    So those are my tips for encouraging your kids to be more independent when it comes to getting dressed - without you having to nag them every day!

    They’re available in a free printable for you below, so go ahead and grab that if you want one to add to your house and family binder and if you'd like to learn more about reducing mess and stress as a busy mother check out my email program here.


    Don’t forget to comment below if you give these a try to let me know how you go and I’d love to hear your tips too if you have some that work really well in your house and you’d like to share them with the Beautifully Organised community. Share away!

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