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!
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In addition to being mama to two sweet little boys and wife to a crazy awesome husband, Christie is a Registered & Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L). She holds a B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in Education from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA...Go Bruins!), and an M.A. in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California (USC OT). She has experience working as a pediatric OT in early intervention (birth to 3), clinic-based, and school-based settings. Her mission with MamaOT.com is to encourage, educate, and empower those who care for children. Christie loves that she gets to PLAY when she goes to work, is hopelessly addicted to Kettle Corn, and is known for being able to turn virtually anything into a therapeutic tool or activity, from empty food containers to laundry and everything in between. Learn more about Christie and what inspired her to become an OT.
Occupational therapy (OT) is a holistic profession that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities, also known as “occupations”. Some OTs help people diagnosed with disability, injury, or disease. Others help prevent disability, injury, or disease. Because of occupational therapy, people of all ages are able to say, "I can!" no matter what their struggle. Isn't that amazing?!
. . . . .Please provide appropriate supervision to the child in your care when completing any activities from this site. You as the grown-up will need to decide what types of products/activities on this list will be safe for your child. If you’re not sure, check with your child’s occupational therapist or pediatrician. Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when implementing any ideas or activities from this site, particularly if there is any risk of injury (e.g., falling, crashing), choking (e.g., small parts), drowning (e.g., water play), or allergic/adverse reaction (e.g., materials/ingredients). The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site.