19 answers

What Age Can Kids Dress Themselves?

I have a son who will be 3 in July..he does pretty well undressing himself, and we are working with him to get dressed also...but he just gets frustrated. I don't think it is because he can't do it...but he won't try. My bf seems to think that he should be able to dress and undress himself by now...is that right? or should he still need help?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Okay...so I normally just help in the morning and don't push much of anything because I just want to get out the door in a timely manner. I guess it's just easier for me to help. My bf might as well be my son's dad because he's known him since my son was 9 months old and my son's bio dad isn't in his life to speak of. My bf is more of an "in the long run" kind of person I think...by that I mean that the sooner James dresses himself by himself, the sooner we don't have to help. It doesn't always bother me, but I guess I feel like my bf is trying to push it. I don't really care. I wish my son could dress himself, but if not...for me i'd just rather do it and get it over with. I just wasn't sure if I should be expecting more than I am, or if my bf is right and my son should be able to do it by himself right now. My son isn't real big on talking or asking for things, so we make him ask for help instead of just giving it to him for most things, dressing included. I just don't have time to do that in the morning so it's hard to remain consistent. Thanks for all the help!

Featured Answers

I have a 3 years old daughter and she still needs help getting dressed. She can put pants on but she still can't get tops on without some help. Its ok if he still needs help, so don't worry about it.

1 mom found this helpful

I have 3 kids and i think it was around 3 or 4 when they started dressing themselves .My youngest...5 years still likes me to help him sometimes with his PJs.He'll get there.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

When my now 9 year old boy started dressing himself, we had the same problem. He could get dressed but didn't want to. Do you pick out his clothes or does he? I started giving him a choice in what he wanted to wear. 2 pants, 2 shirts etc. For him it made a difference. I was surprised just how well he wanted to dress for only being 3 1/2. He made some nice choices. All kids want to be their own little person. Who cares what they end up in. Let him be him. Clothing doesn't always make the man.

2 moms found this helpful

I have 3 kids and i think it was around 3 or 4 when they started dressing themselves .My youngest...5 years still likes me to help him sometimes with his PJs.He'll get there.

1 mom found this helpful

I've got a 2.5 y/o and a 3.5 y/o and they can both get undressed with no problems at all, but my son is the only one who can get dressed. He still has major problems with the shirt, but he can get socks, underwear and pants on all by himself, and usually his jacket, but he has probelms with over the head shirts. My daughter has no intrest in it yet. I pretty much let my son start when he was intrested in doing it. It's like any other issue...if you push it, it won't happen, and I'm pretty sure there aren't any "normal" adults who can't dress themselves, so I wouldn't worry too much about it. ;)

1 mom found this helpful

I have a 3 years old daughter and she still needs help getting dressed. She can put pants on but she still can't get tops on without some help. Its ok if he still needs help, so don't worry about it.

1 mom found this helpful

My son is 3 and he will dress himself...on a good day. Usually he wants help though, even though he can do it himself. I guess its just the age-they want to be independent and yet still get "babied" sometimes! :-)

1 mom found this helpful

I have a daughter who will be four in september and she is just able to put shoes, socks, underwear and pants on. This is a recent development and she still can't put her shirt on. She was an early walker, talker and can ride a trike better than most of her friends but dressing can be very difficult for some kids. Our pediatrician has a chart that says "most" kids learn this skill at 3.5 years of age. Some are earlier and some are later. I completely understand your frustration and definitely had days where I was sure she could do it and just wasn't trying. Then we backed off a little and it happened on its own, when she was developmentally ready. Hang in there, they do grow up eventually!

1 mom found this helpful

I have a 3 kids ages 5, 2.5, and 9 months. My oldest could dress herself pretty early. My second still has a hard time and gets really frustrated when it doesn't go her way. Mine older two are girls and girls tend to do things earlier. I think every kid is different. Some of it is where they are physically but a big part is emotionally and mental too. I suggest you keep working with him the way you are without pushing. At that age they don't quite know how to deal with their emotions and it sounds like he doesn't want to learn because it frustrates him. Don't worry about him learning it by a certain age. He'll get it in time.

1 mom found this helpful

my son will be three in september. He takes off his pants and shoes but not shirt, and struggles with socks. Developement is so individualized in children that its hard to compair him to any one else. I dont expect him to be getting dressed until 4 maybe 5, at least without help. I really dont mind because its nice to be needed and called upon for help as they already grow too fast as it is. Also, Matthew is busy focusing on other areas of growth and isnt interested in this one. Also, I watch opb with him and the children dressing on there and struggling are all around 5 years. Dont know if that helps. Jen

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.. Have you tried giving him little "hints" I guess you'd call em. My daughter is very independant and at 18 months she wanted to dress herself. I showed her bows and buttons go in the front and tags in the back. With shirts, pull it over your head and find the arm holes (finding front or back is a little trickier when its around their neck) Maybe if you make it a little game he wont get so frustrated. He still will want help, but it might make him a little more interested to do it himself if he's looking for the tag and button on the jeans and Mickey on the front of his shirt and so forth. :)

1 mom found this helpful

Every child does things at thier own time. If he gets frustrated when trying to dress himself, try difusing the situation and then asking him if he would like help. Just because your boyfriend says he should be doesnt mean thats true. Does he have any children. My son is just now at 3 and a half finally dressing himself with out help. I want to help but he wont let me. Hes hitting this independent stage(which is so much fun) and he has to do everything himself. Just give it time, help him when he needs it and tell you boyfriend the same thing.

1 mom found this helpful

I can definately relate. My son is 2.5 and he wants to do EVERYTHING by himself. When I try to get him dressed he gets angry with me. He'll get his clothes on backwards, but for the most part, I just teach them that the tag goes in the back, and that has helped both of mine. My daughter who is 4 started dressing herself about a few months ago. She NEVER, and I mean NEVER gets anything backwards!! It is really incredible! I think the only reason she waited so long was because of laziness. Her brother was younger than her and showed more of an interest. I think that's what finally motivated her.

All in all, kids are different. I have 2 complete opposites. Just let him keep trying, and assist him when needed. He will get the hang of things! Just show your support and praise him (even if he gets his shirt on backwards LOL). You can adjust it after he's done doing his own thing. :)

K.

1 mom found this helpful

i would just keep getting him to help you, but don't push it until hes probably 3 1/2 or so. my son just turned 4 and didn't start putting on his own pants until about 5 or so months ago. and he's still working on shirts lol. he can do it most of the time, but still has trouble with long sleeves. so i wouldn't worry, he's still young. just keep making it fun to help you, and pretty soon he'll be wanting to do it himself. :)

1 mom found this helpful

I think your bf needs to relax, and you need to go with your maternal instincts. Your little boy isn't even 3! How many kids his age dress themselves? Please give him a chance to develop at his own pace, while encouraging him and helping him when he needs it. Make him feel good about succeeding, but don't make him feel bad for not living up to unreasonable expectations. Good luck to you and to your little guy.

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter is almost 4 and having the same trouble, it's not that she can't do it herself, it's that she doesn't want to do it herself. We are working on a variety of issues with her. What I have been doing is trying to keep the situation positive, because I get a better response from her that way. I give her encouragement, like "Wow, you did that all by yourself, what a big girl you are!"

1 mom found this helpful

It's different for all kids. My personal belief is that girls are quicker at this than boys. My baby girl became fascinated with pulling pants & shoes on at 18 months. Now at 21 months old she's into the layered look.

My son is Mr. Independent.... he wants to do it on his own and will say, "I don't need your help. I can do it." in a mean frustrated voice. I'll let go and say in a nice voice, "I'm sorry for trying help... here you go." He doesn't even want me to give him verbal direction like, "whoops, sweety, those are backwards" or "you're putting two legs in one hole". There was a time when he didn't want me to touch any of his clothing but, then he'd sit there -stuck- not knowing what to do to get started on dressing. It was frustrating. Sometimes I remained nice during the challenge. Sometimes I got irritated and showed it.

When I was nice I'd say, "I'll give you a count to 10 to start moving the underwear onto your legs," and then I'd count sweetly, happily, and slowly. I was patient. When I was irritated (probably because of other various power struggles over independence), I'd still give him the opportunity to get started during the count down... but when that was done I'd tell him that he still needs my help to line up the pants on his feet, that I get frustrated waiting on him when he have to go now, and that we MUST work together. I'd say my last comments in a sturn voice.

Extreme frustration: There were those mornings where he struggled over almost every task.

"I can brush my teeth on my own!". "Well, get started. Put the toothbrush into your mouth at least".

"I can brush my hair on my own!". "Well, get started. Put the brush on your head."

"I can tie my shoes on my own." "You can try for a count to 10, but I REALLY think you're going to need my HELP."

"I can put my own coat on!" "Well, get started. You're going to have to quit sitting on it to get your arms into the holes."

It almost seemed like to much to expect the little guy to do all of these things. He insisted on doing them on his own but -again- he'd get -stuck-, as if he was paralized with confusion. He really needed my help, but I'd get irrited because I was waiting, waiting, waiting, being patient... and time was passing when we just needed to get out the door and go to an appointment. Sometimes, I'd let some stuff go and not even expect him to do it. Like brushing teeth, we could skip it and to that at a later time so that he wouldn't be soooo overwhelmed accomplishing tasks.

Hope: It will pass. It's worth it to be patient and tolerant as they go through this transition of confusion needing your help but not quite being able to do it themselves. Most days, I was the nice mommy. That's probably why he can dress himself now and wipe his own bottom... Hunter is going to be 4 in May.

Love me: I just want to make one comment about this. Children really do feel loved, taken care of, and special when they are coddled. My two youngest are independent, but my oldest daughter was really sensitive about this. The way she experienced security was through being taken care of. I pushed independence into her daily life through lots of experiences. I perhaps pushed it too much. She still resents me for this. She's 16 now. Her biggest complaint about her childhood was that she didn't feel taken care of enough. Which blows my mind as I tend to be an over attentive parent. But, I missed the mark with her in some way. She feels loved when you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich for her, fetch a bowl of ice cream for her, help her get her coat on, massage her feet, get up and walk across the room to get the remote control for her. I didn't do these coddling things enough. I was the kind of parent that would share the experience with her by helping her make her own sandwhich, own ice-cream, and telling her to grab her coat because we are leaving the house for a while. I had no idea she was so disappointed, saddened, and hurt by all of this.

Your son might be going through a sensitive phase and just need a little coddling to make him feel taken care of and special. They are only small for a short time. You won't be tying his shoes or helping him into his underwear when he is 20 years old. So, if you get to help him in this way, a little longer than most folks, consider it a blessing.

There's two sides to this coin.

Pray and ask God for daily direction on how to serve your particular child. He knows what's best.

YM

1 mom found this helpful

hi i don't thank you son should have to be forced to dress himself if he gets frusterated he may give up and just become fussy my little girl is 5 and she can dress her self but if she has truble i help her your son is still a toddler and needs help nothing wrong with help hope this helps S.

1 mom found this helpful

It all depends on the kid. My son refused to let me help him when he was 2, but my daughter is 5 and most days she throws a fit trying to get me to help her. She can do it on her own and has been able to since about 3, but she just doesn't want to. If he is getting frustrated then help him, little by little. Explain what your doing and make it a little game, I would tickle the hands and feet as they came through the holes.

1 mom found this helpful

Very interesting that you only refer to him as your "BF", and not as his "dad". It doesn't sound as if he has truly accepted that role, so don't take what he thinks as such:)

I was wondering the same thing! My daughter will also be 3 in July, and she can undress herself great (with the exception of some shirts), but she can not put a shirt on herself, and she always puts both legs in one leg of the pant or panties.

I'm not too worried about it, but it is frustrating. She can do shoes and socks (if it doesn't require tying), and she can pull up her pants and panties after using the potty, but that's about it.

I'd love to hear others advice on this one!

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.