At what age are children typically able (and willing) to dress themselves? Our daughter is two and a half and can take her pants on and off and take her shirt off, but cannot put a shirt on herself. She can take her velcro shoes on and off and can take her socks off, but is hit and miss when it comes to putting socks on. And while she sometimes expresses a very keen interest in "do by myself," more times than not she wants us to help dress (and undress) her.

When should we expect her to be old enough to handle these tasks herself? We don't mind doing it at this age, but we are also of the mind that it is good to encourage a child to regularly try to accomplish tasks themselves without assistance.

5 Answers 5


Kids are all different. I'd be surprised if a 2yo were completely dressing/undressing him/her-self all the time. I'd be surprised if a 6yo were not doing so.

If you want to encourage self-dressing, buy the easiest-to-use clothes possible: velcro shoes, elastic pants, shirts that button or snap rather than pull over the head.


As HedgeMage said, all kids are different, but you can look here: http://www.babycenter.com/0_toddler-milestone-self-care_6503.bc for general idea. It says there that at yours age child should already be able to take off his clothes, but only after 3 or even 4 he will be able to get dressed all by himself.

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    My son could handle pants sometime in his 3rd year, and shoes right before his 4th birthday. He didn't really master shirts, shoes, and the correct orientation of underwear until later in his 4th year.
    – Meg Coates
    Sep 17, 2012 at 19:15

There are many different levels of motor skills, body awareness/schema, and visual motor perceptual skills required for the various aspects of undressing/dressing. Refining all of these skills may not be completed until 3-4 years of age. However, I do have a suggestion for encouraging her "next step" in each task.

In therapy, we use "backward chaining" to facilitate skills in a challenging yet achievable manner. This strategy requires analyzing every task in reverse and having the child do the very last step in the process until that step is skilled. Then, add the preceding task as their next step. Continue backwards until the entire task is easily accomplished.

An example for putting on socks includes: Step 1: Put socks on over the heels and child pulls up leg; Step 2: Stop before the heel and child completes; Step 3: Put socks just over the toes.

Removing a shirt might include: Step 1: Remove shirt leaving at top of head for child to remove; Step 2: Leave shirt at nose level and have child remove; Step 3: Leave shirt a neck level to remove; Step 4: Remove only one arm and child removes second arm.

Any dressing task can be taught using this method and moves the child from success to success giving many opportunities for practice, celebration, and development.


Your daughter sounds right on track. I think the important thing is to continue to let her try even if she doesn't succeed. I've seen parents say "she isn't old enough" to do something, so they always do it for her, then wonder why when she is "old enough" she doesn't suddenly know how to do it.


I think kids should start dressing themselves at the age of 2 and half years. But parents should always teach the children.

My kids were able to undress themselves at the age 2. By the age of 2.5 they could put on the pants, socks, trousers, hat. I bought them Shoosey to teach them how to tie laces (but it was when they were 3)

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