How to Get Your Child to Dress Quickly

Get 7 different ideas to help you get your children to dress quickly. Your morning can be so smooth with these tips!

Child getting dressed

One of the hardest things about mornings can be getting your child to get dressed for the day–especially if you are going somewhere first thing in the morning.

Mornings are hectic, and if you are having to either remind your child to get dressed or wait forever for your child to “do it herself”, you can get behind quickly.

Parenting The Strong-Willed Child has some great tips for making this step easier on the family. While this book is written geared toward strong-willed children, the tips work for all children.

In this post I share those ideas along with others I have found helpful over the years.

With school starting (or started for some of you), this might be helpful to think about right now!

These tips work whether you are leaving for school, going to dance class, headed off to work, or simply leaving to run errands in the morning. 

Lay Out Clothes the Night Before

You can speed along the process of getting dressed if you lay out clothes the night before.

This is especially helpful for older children who are getting ready and can dress themselves.

For younger kids who can dress themselves, I make it very easy for them. I lay the clothes out on the ground. I put underwear first, right side up. I then have the shirt face down and upside down so the child can pick it up and put it on correctly. Then the pants right side up, and finally socks. 

A great thing about having clothes out the night before is that it leaves no room for debating what will be worn that morning as you are hurrying to get ready.

It also makes it so the child can be rather independent. There is no need for the child to wait around for you because the clothes are already set out. It is a great time saver all around.

Give Your Child Plenty of Time to Get Dressed

(PSWC page 225)

You want to leave enough time for getting ready that there is no need to rush. You need to be able to be patient.

Figure out how long your child needs on the longest day. I remember when Brayden was in Kindergarten that I had to get Brayden up by 7:30 in the morning so he can have plenty of time for showering, dressing, other getting ready tasks, and eating breakfast.

If he got ready a bit faster, then he had time to play. We both got pretty stressed if he slept past 7:30. No one likes to be rushed, and I don’t like nagging. 

Get Dressed Before Breakfast

This is something suggested in PSWC and the -wise books. We never really did this until Brayden started school.

I must say, if you have somewhere to be in the morning, doing this makes the morning so much smoother!

I was pretty surprised by that because it shouldn’t really make a difference when you do it, right? It takes the same amount of time no matter what time you do it. But it does make things to faster and more smoothly.

I am not sure why. I don’t know if the child is motivated to hurry to get dressed so he can go eat or what.

I do really like that you get ready and then eat for as long as you like. There is no cutting off eating for your estimated amount of time needed to get ready and there is no rushing through the getting dressed process because you spent too long eating. 

Walk Away While Your Kid Dresses

If your child is capable of dressing himself, walk away while he gets dressed.

Tell him to get dressed and then go find something to do.

Brush your teeth. Help another child. Set out breakfast dishes. Gather book bags. Read a book. Close your eyes and rest. Do anything other than hover and nag. 

Play Games

PSWC suggests you play “Beat the clock” to help your child be faster. The -wise books talk about “3 Candy Speed.”

The idea is you turn the task of getting dressed (or any task your child needs to do) into a game. Set a timer and see if your child can beat the timer. Race each other and see who gets done first.

I typically do a “bet you can’t shower faster than I can.”

You could time your child and see if he or she can get faster the next day.

You could pick a song and see if your child can get dressed before the song ends. Come up with what works for you. You might want to mix it up every so often. 

Have Incentives

Have something your child will get to do that is fun if your child gets ready fast enough. Maybe your child will get to read a book, color a picture, play with playdoh…pick something that will motivate your child to move quickly.

Use Morning Routine Cards

Morning routine cards are a great way to get your child to get ready quickly. These cards really keep kids on track as they get ready each morning! I have used these for over a decade and can’t recommend them enough.

Morning Routine Cards Cover by Valerie Plowman


It doesn’t take much to get your child moving in the morning and get ready quickly. With a little bit of preparation and some motivation, your mornings can go more smoothly!

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This post originally appeared on this blog in August 2011

10 thoughts on “How to Get Your Child to Dress Quickly”

  1. We've always dressed before breakfast just because bedrooms are upstairs and I'm too lazy to take everyone back upstairs after going down to eat. However, I love the idea of setting out clothes. My 3.5 yr old DD and I are constantly struggling with what to wear–mostly because there is one outfit she wants to wear every day, but surprise–some days it is dirty! Thanks for the tip!

  2. Good post! That's exactly how we've always done it. I have one daughter that is picky about how the clothes feel and one that is picky about how the clothes look (i.e. only likes dresses that spin and are pretty)so it doesn't solve all problems, but it cuts down on the arguing to leave the room while they are dressing for sure! It gives my daughter who is picky about how things feel to adjust a minute before coming into contact with me. Usually, the clothes feel fine after she's had them on through breakfast anyway.Kelle

  3. I've found that doing a diaper change and getting my little guy dressed before breakfast has worked well for him, especially since he has reflux! That way, I'm not laying him on his back and putting his legs in the air for the diaper change and dressing process when he has a full tummy! : )

  4. Somehow my thing didn/t post! oh well. Main question is how often do you let Kaitlyn pick out clothes? I let 4 YO pick out on Monday and have been doing this a while. Not sure if I should be letting her pick more or what. She picks the same outfit every monday of course and often argues with what I pick out if she doesn't like it….so i don't know if that means she is ready for more choices or possibly she is frustrated and I should allow more at this age? Thanks

  5. Yvonne, I don't know how often I let her choose…Not every day. I think you could do more than once a week. An idea for you is to offer her two choices you would be happy with and let her choose one of them. then she practices choosing but you maintain a lot of control over it.

  6. Unfortunately useless advices in our case and I am frustrated. He is five, and if I leave him alone, he will not get dress at all – and he can! But he will be playing or at least watching the ceiling dreaming… I have to stay next to him and tell him “continue to dress… do not play now, now you have to dress… please, focus on getting dress…”. Every time when I go to the kitchen and after that return, he is not getting dress. This has been going on since he can fully dress himself – 2 years ago. And I am exhausted. I tried to make the game – who will be first – he, or his sister. But if he did not win, he was furious, so we stopped to do it in that way. Most of the time also motivation to do something interestand after also did not help, because he told that he forgots that he should get dress. We always get dress before the breakfast – I cannot imagine to eat the breakfast in the pyjamas. Also clothing are also perfectly prepared – correct order and correct position (front and back – so he will not be confused). But any of those work!


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