Yesterday morning my 17-month-old son was wearing a pullover bib (something I had never heard of until my mother-in-law gave us one) and, all of a sudden, he pulled it up and over his head just like he was taking off a shirt. As soon as I saw him do this, a light bulb went off in my OT head and I thought, Aha! What a perfect way to teach kids to pull a shirt up and over their head! Check out the video below to see what I mean (please excuse the mess!).
We pediatric occupational therapists often work on self-care skills with young children who struggle with them, including tasks such as feeding, grooming, and dressing. I’ll be honest, teaching kids pre-dressing skills such as learning to take off their shirt is not my favorite goal to work on in therapy because it can be really, really tough! For kids who have developmental delays, language delays, attention difficulties, or overall difficulties with coordination, sequencing, and body awareness, taking off or putting on a shirt probably feels like trying to wrestle an octopus. They can barely see what they’re doing and there are a lot of parts to keep straight — literally.
But by giving them a pullover bib (which can also be used as a pretend superhero cape!), you are naturally breaking it down into simpler parts so they can be successful one step at a time. Brilliant! And I have to say, just a few hours after I took this video, my son all of a sudden started trying to pull off his own shirt…it really works! Pullover bibs can be found for purchase online by clicking here.
Has anyone else tried this before? What are other ways you’ve learned to help children to learn to put on or take off a shirt? I’ve tried using visuals, including this one, but I don’t feel like they’ve been too effective. Please share your wisdom with us all!