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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay ... we are one of those families who have tried so many playful approaches to nearly everything ... but we are not succeeding in making getting dressed any easier for my DS in the morning. The timer (in five minutes ... when the timer goes off, we'll put on your sweater; then we have two more minutes before your shoes...) works sometimes, but is incredibly tedious. We try to give lots of steady notice, try to put on clothes the night before (but he likes to sleep naked) ... so we do want to move towards DS taking control of his dressing. We give him choices about what clothes to wear ... but he still hates actually getting dressed and the choice of when/which clothes doesn't seem to make much difference.<br><br>
We've tried natural consequences ... so that he's actually been down, outside and in our lobby naked to see how the cold feels ... but he knows we won't go the whole distance and make him go naked to school, so it just ends up delaying the whole thing. Once we are upstairs to get dressed, it becomes an entire 20 minute addition to our tight morning ...<br><br>
All in all, its such a cruddy way to begin our days.<br><br>
Any ideas? How have you all taught dressing? DS is wanting to do most things by himself ... or at least try, but this task seems to be an exception.<br><br>
Becca
 

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I assume from everything you have listed that you have tired letting him choose his own clothes -- either the night before, or that am (nightbefore would be better, but hey -- you do what will work).<br><br>
Have you tried removing yourself -- use the time for teh WHOLE process -- you have 7 miuntes -- here are your clothes on the bed -- I am going ot make breakfast....... (not a timer for each peice of clothing, thus draggin you into it several times)<br><br>
Have you tired -- adding something FUN that he likes inbetween dressing and leaving -- something he looses if he is not dressed in time?<br><br>
Have you tired EASY clothes -- pull on pants, socks, and a pull on sweat shirt? that is only 3 things to put on (with underware beign 4) and all easy<br><br>
Have you tired races -- let's see if you can get dressed before momma get her hair done... or whatever<br><br>
have you ited bring his clothing into you room and having him dress with you -- ok time to get dressed momma is putting on socks, what are you putting on....<br><br>
AImee
 

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At the montessori school where I work, they leave the kids alone to dress themselves for as long as it takes. The routine goes on, and one little kid will be sitting in the coat room or the bathroom, sometimes for an hour, fiddling around with their clothes. They are given zero attention over it. All the kids dress themselves -- they all eventually stop making an issue over it.<br><br>
The teachers are very critical of parents who dress their kids, and guilt trip them about it a good bit. The way I see it though, parents have a schedule to keep and do not have the luxery of leaving a child to dress himself for an hour or longer. School can be very child-centered, which is great -- buts its a unique and in some ways artificial environment.<br><br>
I occasionally still dress my 6 yo, and at age 3 -- I always dressed him. Yes, he could do it himself. But he was not interested in my agenda or timetable. Not interested in social conventions about clothing and shoes. He was thinking to himself, <i>"She wants me dressed so badly -- let her dress me then."</i> So I let it be my responsibility. There are bigger fish to fry in life.<br><br>
That said, I don't know if I handled it well. Sometimes I regret it -- I wonder in what ways he would be different if I had insisted on more independence. Other times, I feel just fine about it. He is more independent now than he was at 3 -- one thing at a time, he has assumed more responsibility on his own intitiative and on his own time-table.<br><br>
FWIW -- one trick that worked for us (sometimes) was to put one thing on him, and then he needed to put one thing on himself, and then we'd put another thing on him, and then he'd put another thing on himself... and so on. Always with him choosing who did what.
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lurk.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lurk">:
 

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For the past year my 3.5 yr old boys have made dressing soooooooo hard. I had to chase them through the house, catch them, drag them out of closets as they clung to clothing and laughed, and finally wrestle their clothing on. Every morning. Recently they have begun to actually stand still when I dress them and I am so thankful for that I have not even thought about taking it to the next level. I have a daydream about them putting their own clothing on for kindergarten...
 

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My dd is 3.5. Our house is cold<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> There is no wandering around naked because it is very uncomfortable. I do not pick out dd's clothing or even ask her to get dressed. We get up and she is imediately cold so she wanders off into her bedroom and appears in about 10 minutes fully dressed. Usually the clothes do not match and sometimes they are a little funky. Yesterday we went grocery shopping with dd only wearing tights and a sweater. I pointed out that it would not be very warm and that most people wear something WITH thier tights but left it at that. she chose not to change. The second I try and direct any part of it, things break down. 3.5 is old enough to sit down and level with them. Do it during a time when you are not trying to get him dressed. Get rid of any clothing you would not be OK with him wearing. And just say "We have a time constraint in the mornings. We have 20 minutes to get dressed. You can wear anything you like but need to be fully covered before breakfast (or whenever)". Ask him to voice his concerns or preferences. Make a plan that works for both of you.
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/notes2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="notes right-handed">:<br><br>
My ds is just over 4 and while he is pretty independent and wants to do everything himself, dressing himself is the exception. I don't necessarily mind helping him out but he tends to just go limp and be silly and play with toys, etc... while I'm trying to help. In those cases I give him one chance and then walk away. But we almost always end up going back because we eventually need to go somewhere or he legitimately needs our help. There's been a few times where we haven't gone back (when I know he can do it - easy pj's) and after 10 minutes of getting upset crying and other dramatics he will get himself dressed. I don't like it but I can't get kicked while I'm trying to help him.<br><br>
I've tried the timer and playful parenting. I'll be watching for more ideas.
 

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I have no suggestions. My DS is 4 and I still dress him everyday. He helps me and is very cooperative, but it's just never been an issue.<br><br>
Geeze, I wonder if I should encourage him to try. I don't think he's ever put anything on himself!
 

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For some 3 1/2 year olds, getting dressed is still pretty tricky. I don't think our son mastered it until he was closer to 4 or 4 1/2. AND even at 5 1/2, he still likes us THERE when he gets dressed.<br><br>
what happens if you give him warning (in 5 minutes it's time to get dressed) -- set the timer like you have before, but instead of setting the timer for each step, you dress him dress him start to finish? You can, for example, put his shirt on and then have him put the arms in. Help him with the pants. But, once you get started, it's 5 minutes getting dressed, period.<br><br>
And I would see if there is any possible way to build in an extra 20 minutes to your schedule.<br><br>
Finally, why haven't you taken him naked to school? Unless it's below zero, a short dash to the car, an uncomfortable car ride and a dash into school might just be the trick. Our dd has gone in pajamas more than once. she took her boots and socks off at the grocery store and discovered how cold it is when you walk on the parking lot with no shoes and socks on. OK, it's not completely naked, but I would do that too, if necessary.
 

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have you tried a stop watch -- so he can race himself -- rather than race the timer (that is going to go off) .....<br><br>
make a chart -- monday though frinday -- and give him a stop watch and when he starts to dress help him hit the start -- and then he can stop it when he is done -- and you can record the time and the next day he can see if he can beat him time for yesterday.....and over time he can see if he can imporve his time...and so on......<br><br>
maybe THAT would make it more fun? raceing himself?<br><br>
or<br><br>
"can you get your pants and shirt on before momms gets her hair hrushed"<br><br>
or<br><br>
"can you get your socks on before momma gets her teeth brushed"<br><br>
?????????<br><br>
Aimee
 

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Maybe he still needs a little guidance, or even companionship while he dresses? DS is almost 3 and he has been getting dressed for a couple of months by himself. However, when he's alone he get distracted with other things. If I'm with him and generally helping him, then he's pretty quick. If he runs into a problem (like putting his pants on backwards, then taking them off but turning them inside out in the process) then he asks for some help. It doesn't mean you have to dress him, but just be with him and help guide him through the process.<br><br>
My hubby feels he can just tell the kids to get ready for bed and viola in 5min they are ready. In reality we have more battles with them if they are left alone for the process. If we are even just present it's makes a huge difference. We don't brush dd's teeth, she just likes to have us there in the vacinity.
 

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I resorted to a sticker chart for getting these "morning chores" (dressed, teeth, make bed) done at our house (I have two boys, age 4.5). It was part of an overall plan to formalize our expectations for the kids, including some other simple chores like feeding the dogs, bringing in the garbage can from the curb, etc. I sit down with the boys on Sunday and write out the lists every week, with their input (trying to assign them the chores that they like the best - the most popular is filling the vitamin dispensers!) I plan to home school, and I really need for them to develop some good habits and routines (don't we all?), and so far, it seems to be working. By no means are we struggle-free, but we have stuck with it for a few weeks now, and I like the results.
 

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Since you like things playful, I will tell you our recent playful parenting technique for getting dressed. We choose clothes in the evening. Then I say, the wolf is coming and he will eat naked kids.... and then I go to another room. And then, I start yelling from my bedroom, while I get dressed, "can I come now?" "Hey, coming to eat you now... " ... to which she yells back, "no don't come yet..." Eventually she shouts "You can come!" and I go and I find that she's dressed and I pretend I am very disappointed because the wolf cannot eat a child when she's all dressed up. To add to the playfulness of it, we sing a song in French (we're Italians and live in French-speaking Switzerland) which is about some kids that have a walk in the woods while the wolf gets dressed. They know that when the wolf's dressed, they will need to run away, so they keep asking him what he's doing and he answers he's wearing his socks, his trousers and so on and finally, he says "I'm coming!!!!" It goes like <a href="http://enfants.stephyprod.com/musique-gratuite-pour-enfants/musique-gratuite-pour-enfants-musique-mp3-gratuite-mp3-pour-enfants-promenons-nous-dans-bois.htm" target="_blank">this</a> (in case you speak French... )
 

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Put him in his clothes at bedtime instead of PJs? Sure, he'll be a little rumpled, but at least they'd be on!
 

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I dressed dd until she wanted to get dressed on her own. It was something she could do for a long time herself and on occasion did but still wanted me to do until she was almost four. I would offer her the chance to do it herself and then if she didn't want to do it I would do it and she seemed quite happy to let me. I know it is nice when they do for themselves what they are capable of doing, but if it is a power battle and he really wants you to dress him then I think you should respect that wish. Why make life miserable for both of you when it is a simple task that doesn't drain you and that he will eventually want to do himself in his own time?
 

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I agree with mamaduck and katallen. Powerstruggles are not worth it. In our preschool, we allowed children to take as long as they needed to get dressed, BUT we had the luxury of doing so. We always told parents it was ok to dress their children if they had to get out the door quickly. If you really want him to learn to dress himself, how about planning a fun outing for him and leave him to dress himself? If he wants to go badly enough he will be motivated to do so. Otherwise, I wouldn't worry about it. Most children can dress themselves by the time they are in highschool<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngtongue.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Stick Out Tongue"> .
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks, all, for your thoughts. I'm actually glad to report that for now, the timer seems to be working. I did want to say that in principle, I really really don't mind dressing DS -- I am not interested in pushing that faster than he is wanting to go. BUT I am interested in doing away with the constant battle around getting dressed ... and I thought maybe helping him dress himself would do that.<br><br>
For what its worth, I don't want to "make him dress himself" or not have a fun outing -- that seems too punitive to me -- especially when it is still actually hard for him to dress himself. In other words, I don't want to use "consequences" to force him to learn what he will want to learn on his own over time. Especially with a new baby sister, I think he is holding on to this one step to "still be a baby" and I don't want to rush that.<br><br>
BUT I do not want to have this struggle every morning and am too tired, coffee-deprived some mornings to be really playful and creative.<br><br>
But the timer seems to be working. It takes it out of the interpersonal battle zone.<br><br>
Becca
 

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My kids work really well with sticker charts. I agree that you should try to not use consequences for this and instead use rewards, which the stickers will do. Some mornings you may still have to help out, but other mornings he may be really motivated to get the sticker.
 

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Just to clarify, the fun outing is a reward for getting dressed, not a punishment or consequence. Still go on the outing, but the outing is something externally motivating that may take some of the struggle out of the situation. But, I see you have found your own solution to the problem.<br><br>
We still struggle with this too by the way. What works for me is warming his clothes by the woodstove evry morning. He loves things warm and cozy, and there are no more struggles. I also feel like a good mommy giving my boy cozy clothes.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/loveeyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Loveeyes">: .
 

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My dd was the only one of my 5 who loved to dress. My son is 4 now and can't dress himself. Who cares! Is he going to go to school at 5 and not know how? I don't think so. He will express interest when he is interested.I pick my battles. i don't let my kids wear pjs all day, or leave the house in them. I try to distract my ds and quickly change him. I would be horrified if my ds was left to get himself dressed for an hour at school. (I am assuming these are 3.5 yos you are talking about.)Enough is enough, help the poor kid. Once my kids inter school i expect a lot from them. When kids go to school, many times they see what all the other kids can do and want to do it as well.<br><br>
If you really want him to dress himself, then try what others have suggested. I personally have enough battles to deal with every day.
 
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