Winter Dressing Tips


Parents can encourage more independence in dressing, but some children will resist these efforts. Teaching a child to dress takes time and results of teaching efforts are not always dramatic. Nevertheless, dressing can be fun, and with an encouraging and workable approach, good progress can be made.

We will be considering 2 approaches to getting kids to dress themselves this winter period or any season at all. Both approaches require extra time and effort along with consistency. Allow enough time for dressing to give your child time to learn the skills.


Praise independent dressing

  • Praise them enthusiastically and frequently for any attempt to help put on an item of clothing.

Describe what is happening

  • Talk to your child about what you are doing – “we’ve got your pants on, now it’s time for your snow pants” – and remember to praise every little cooperation.

Prompt the names of clothing /parts of the body

  • Ask your child to identify each item of clothing

  • “First we put on what? “Where do you put your arm?” “What do you pull over your head?” “Yes, the sweater!”

Only give assistance when it is required

  • For example, avoid pulling up their pants if they can do this. Over time, gradually reduce your assistance and praise once they’ve put on all clothing items.


Assess your child’s dressing skills

  • Make a list of some dressing skills that you might want to teach them to do for themselves. Examples may include: Putting on pants, threading a zipper, zipping up, tying shoelaces, putting on a button-up shirt etc.

Choose a skill to teach

  • When choosing a skill, also consider what your child can already do and enjoys doing but might just need help to finish or do better.

Establish the steps of the skill

  • For example, putting on pants might look like this:

o   Hold pants with label closest

o   While sitting put right foot through pants/ and left foot

o   Stand up

o   Pull the pants from ankles to knees

o   Pull pants to mid-thigh

o   Pull pants to waist.

Your list may not look exactly like this. For some children, only a few big steps are required, for others it helps to have a lot of smaller steps.

Choose a reward

  • Your attention in the form of smiles, hugs, and descriptive praise (“Well done Jack, you have pulled on your pants nicely”) is often the best reward for children. You may also consider using rewards such as a short amount of time to play with a favourite toy or small food reward.

Decide when you will teach skill

  • Dressing skills are usually best taught when these skills are needed. Allow enough time for dressing so that you are not rushed.

Get everything you need ready

  • Have everything your child needs all in one place before you start. Avoid distractions, like having the TV on. Try to choose clothing that is manageable for your child -this often means using clothing a bit larger. Be alert to signs that shows child might be having trouble and be ready to assist.



  • Look for mittens that go up to child’s elbow, they keep arms warm and are harder to remove.

  • Are hats a problem? Balaclavas (a hat that covers the neck and face, with holes for the eyes and mouth) are harder to take off and they keep more of the face and neck.

  • For a hat that goes under the chin, a Velcro or snap attachment is faster to put on than one with strings. Its safer if the child gets caught on something.

  • Make getting ready to go outside fun. Sing Songs!!!