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Show Your Toddler the Fun of Self-Dressing

How To Teach Your Toddler To Cooperate And Have Fun With Self-Dressing

Chances are, getting your toddler dressed in the morning often feels like you're participating in an Olympic sport, with you literally wrestling him into his sleeves and pant legs. And then there are the children who seem to enjoy making you chase them around before dressing.

How a child behaves during diapering sets the tone for dressing cooperation, says noted child expert William Sears, M.D., author of "The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know about Your Baby from Birth to Age Two." That said, you'll want to set the groundwork early to make getting dressed fun.

If your toddler takes off as soon as dressing time begins, turn it into a game of peek-a-boo, suggests Sears. Put your face through his shirt to "peek-a-boo" him. Sure enough, he'll come over to partake in the game, allowing you to slip the shirt over his head. Or, you can try singing songs to get him in the mood, such as the Hokey-Pokey: "You put your left foot in, " etc. (You will probably want to amend the lyrics to make it all go smoothly.)

Most children who enjoy dressing can be taught to cooperate with it by age 1, to do some self-dressing by age 2, and to dress themselves by age 4. As toddlers begin self-dressing between ages 3 and 4, help them along by choosing loose-fitting clothing that slips easily over the head and arms and doesn't have zippers or buttons. The simpler the clothing, the more successful he will be.

As your toddler is developing a strong personal identity, he might also develop a "fashion" sense. Having your child help choose some of the clothes you buy goes a long way to getting him interested in dressing. Accept mismatches and congratulate your child for dressing himself, no matter the ensemble he coordinates. Fill drawers with clothes appropriate for the season, otherwise you may find him insisting on wearing a wool sweater in June.

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