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Can A 5-Year-Old Dress Themselves?


My son craved independence and control as a preschooler. Most children show interest in doing things independently from age 2, but others may take longer. Five-year-olds have the cognitive ability and motor skills to get dressed alone, but can they really be expected to do it?

Most children can dress themselves between the ages of 5-6. However, some 5-year-olds may have difficulty and require some assistance with getting dressed. Most 5-year-olds can dress themselves but may still need help with buttons or laces.

Every child develops at their own pace. Some children seek independence sooner, while others may cling to you and require a little more help and attention. A lot of getting dressed on their own has to do with personality and the need to do things themselves.

Five year old dressed himself.

Can 5 Year Old’s Get Dressed On Their Own?

A major developmental milestone for a 5-year-old is the ability to dress independently (source). Most 5-year-olds can dress themselves and require only a little assistance for buttons, tying shoe laces, or a zipper at the back of a dress.

5-year-olds also start becoming more independent by choosing their own clothing. While what they choose to wear may seem weird and even crazy, it is an important life skill that needs to be practiced.

A lot goes into your child dressing themselves. Many valuable skills like independence, logical decision-making, and creativity are learned through dressing themselves.

Learning to get dressed also helps your 5-year-old develop their gross and fine motor skills, cognitive skills, and language skills (source).

Getting dressed on their own starts around age 2 or 3. Toddlers this age begin to understand the different items of clothing and how they fit on their bodies. Socks, boots, and jackets are some of the first items children will learn to put on.

How To Tell If Your 5-Year-Old Is Ready To Dress Themselves?

Generally, by age 5, a child should be dressing themselves. If your 5-year-old is not dressing by themselves, there are ways to encourage them to get dressed.

The following are common signs of readiness for your 5-year-old to start dressing by themselves:

  • Your child knows the different pieces of clothing and where they go.
  • Your child has put an item of clothing on by themselves before.
  • Displays of increased independence and asking to do it by themselves.
  • They want to choose what they wear.
  • They know basic body parts.
  • They have an awareness of their bodies.
  • They can take their clothes off.
At five years old, my son loved dressing up.

How To Encourage Your 5-Year-Old To Get Dressed On Their Own?

If your 5-year-old seems reluctant to get dressed entirely independently, there are a few ways to encourage them.

Start Teaching Your 5-Year-Old About Getting Undressed First

If your 5-year-old can get undressed by themselves, you’ve already passed the first step in teaching your child how to get dressed.

Most children learn to get undressed first before they learn to get dressed. This is much easier for them, and it doesn’t take long before they can master this skill.

Most children begin getting undressed in the toddler stages. However, in some cases, 5-year-olds may still ask for assistance when getting undressed.

Give Your 5-Year-Old Enough Time To Get Dressed

Learning a new skill takes time, and one of the best ways to encourage your 5-year-old to get dressed is to give them enough time to do it. If mornings are a rush, practice getting dressed at night.

If you have to get ready in the mornings, set aside more time for your child to get dressed.

Practice getting dressed when you have enough time and energy to encourage your child. Avoid teaching them to get dressed when you are tired or not feeling up for it.

Choose Easy Outfits But Let Your 5-Year-Old Decide

If your 5-year-old still needs a bit of practice when getting dressed, set aside a few simple outfits which they can choose from. Let them try and do it on their own.

Encourage them as they go along. Avoid selecting which outfit you want them to wear and instead allow them to decide.

This will give them a greater feeling of independence by being able to make their own decisions.

Make Getting Dressed Easier For Your 5-Year-Old

Make getting dressed easier for your 5-year-old by teaching them to sit down for items like socks and pants. This will encourage them by avoiding the frustration of putting these items on while standing up.

Make Sure Your 5-Year-Old’s Clothes Are Easily Accessible

Set up your 5-year-old’s closet so their clothes are easy to reach and they can choose them independently. This helps them decide on what they want to wear, get it out of their closet, and get dressed on their own.

Avoid Dressing Your 5-Year-Old

Although it may be very tempting, you should avoid dressing your 5-year-old. The goal of getting 5-year-olds to get dressed independently is to teach them independence and life skills.

You can help with complex articles of clothing like buttons and laces, but you want to try and encourage them to do it on their own.

Why Should 5-Year-Olds Dress Themselves?

The most obvious reason 5-year-olds should dress on their own is to become more independent.

Dressing by themselves also creates confidence, a sense of achievement, and individuality.


A 5-year-old should be able to dress by themselves with little to no help. It’s a big step from being dressed by a parent to dressing on their own.

As each child matures and develops at their own pace, most milestones are a guideline. Remember, no other human is like your child, and the pace they learn and the milestones they meet should not be measured squarely by a book; there will always be some variance in perfectly normal children.

Always talk to your pediatrician if you have questions or concerns.

Author Notes:
Teresa is a Registered Nurse in the State of Texas and the mother of two. Opinions and insights on childcare are based on professional knowledge, academic research, and personal experience.

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