As Sarah gets older her room has had a few changes. About a month ago Sarah started to help getting undressed; just lifting her arms up and wriggling her legs. My husband first noticed this and since then has been encouraging her to be a part of the undressing process as much as possible.
This is the dressing area in Sarah’s room. I cleared out the bottom two shelves in her cupboard for a dressing and washing basket. Her old washing basket was too big and so it is now in Jack’s room. The top shelf has two baskets; one for wipes and powder, the other for clothes. Each night I put tomorrow’s clothes in the basket in the order in which Sarah will need them to get dressed. So nappy on the top and then singlet and so on underneath.
The washing basket is on the floor. I have reservations about posting a video or too many photos of Sarah getting dressed and undressed so I’ll just tell you a little about how she is going instead.
We try to use very specific language though and describe what we are doing;
‘This is your shirt. Let’s take off your shirt, arms up please.’ ‘This is your singlet.’ ‘Let’s put on your singlet’.
Once she was familiar with each item Sarah was then able to get each item when asked;
‘Sarah will you get your singlet please?’ ‘Thank you’. ‘Sarah will you put the wipes away please?’ ‘Thank you.’
By separating the cleaning products (wipes and talc) from her clothes we have been able to reinforce the process; undress (into the washing basket), clean, dress. As much as possible we try to help Sarah to get dressed as opposed to getting Sarah dressed. When she was younger we would often give her a toy for her to play with while we got her dressed. Now we try to have her a part of the process as much as possible. We try to have her standing or sitting, except for changing her nappy, and by asking her to get each item and helping to get dressed, she has something to do and so doesn’t tend to get squirmy or fussy.
Sarah really enjoys helping to get dressed. She will pick each item out and place it on the floor, then carefully put each dirty item in the wash basket making sure that no part is hanging out. It takes a bit longer than if we were to do it, but she is so focussed how could we interrupt?
If you have any other suggestions for learning to get dressed, I’d love to hear them.