Most little girls dream of wearing frilly lace, ball gown dresses and high heel shoes. While games with dress up clothes encourage imaginative play, it also helps children to learn the necessary motor and coordination skills to dress themselves. If you have a little boy, let him to dress up with anything he finds interesting too! Getting dressed involves cooperation between a variety of developmental processes:
- Cognitive – Determining what to wear and where to get it.
- Emotional – Accepting the unavoidable if the desired garments are not available because it is being washed (a regular occurrence in our home, especially for a certain blue satin princess dress!)
- Gross Motor – Stretching out to reach for the desired clothes (often those that Mom is trying to hide away!)
- Eye-hand Coordination – Turning the clothes the right way around, aiming for the armholes and arranging the props like crowns, staffs, bows and beads just so.
- Fine Motor Skills – Attempting to fasten belts, strips and buttons even if she is not successful.
- Patience and Problem Solving Skills – Knowing when to persevere and when to call an adult for assistance.
Being able to choose an outfit when going out will help your child gain confidence in her choices. I failed miserably in this regard with my eldest daughter. She had the uncanny ability to choose the weirdest combinations of clothes when we were preparing to go out. As I thought about all the stares that we would get because of her outfit, I often overruled her choices and let her dress in clothes of my choosing! At age seven, she now has a very individualistic sense of style and I’ve learned to let her be and celebrate her uniqueness.
Given the right opportunities your child will soon learn to dress herself independently. Some nights, my six year old will run up to me with her pajamas in tow, wanting me to dress her. When this happens, I know she needs some nurturing and that she wants to experience that wonderful feeling of security when Mom pulls the pajama top over her head and tie the belt of her dressing gown tightly around her waist. Allow your child to advance and retreat in the area of dressing as much as she needs to – very soon you will have a big kid who’ll be confident about preferences in clothes.