Teaching Grownup Grooming Skills

At 2, your child is ready to learn some grown-up grooming skills. It may try your patience, but it's important to let her make her own attempts at dressing and brushing her teeth.


Girl pouting

During this year, children take their first tentative steps toward several other adult practices. To a mom and dad on a busy schedule, these new attempts may, at times, seem halting indeed. At 2, for example, a child usually shows great interest in the business of dressing and undressing himself. In reality, however, he may accomplish little more than taking off his socks or a jacket or sweatshirt. By age 2 1/2, though, your child will probably be able to undress himself completely -- which can be a huge help at bathtime and the bane of a parent's existence at other times. Getting dressed is clearly more difficult than undressing. At this age, your toddler may be able to put on only socks and a shirt, a sweater or a coat. Be supportive and very patient. Mastering this task completely on his own may still be a year or more away.

You can help make dressing a snap by choosing clothes for your child that respect his limited skills: easy, pull-on styles without small buttons, snaps, or difficult zippers. Also avoid clothes with closures in the back. Stand by, ready to assist your child, but remind yourself that doing things for him may slow his progress in acquiring these skills and undermine his budding sense of independence.

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