You Have to Wear Pants!
Cover of You Have to Wear Pants
"You have to wear pants. I don’t want to wear pants. You can wear any pants you want, but you have to wear pants. You can wear long pants. You can wear short pants. You can even wear fancy pants, but you have to wear pants." You have to wear pants! is a fun book for children and parents alike with a simple message about putting on your pants and being yourself. It also encourages creative play and dress up.

You Have to Wear Pants! - Parent and Teacher Resources

You Have to Wear Pants! offers two main messages to children. On the surface it's a fun book about getting dressed. It's natural for kids to sometimes want to stay in comfy jammies rather than putting on regular clothes. The book is a playful way to get them excited about this important step in preparing for the day.

On a deeper level the book is about finding out who you are (show pants, old pants, new pants, smarty pants, etc.) and exposing different possibilities through dress up and imaginative play. You can be anyone you want but you have choose to be someone. As the end of book suggests, it's best to be yourself or in the words of our main character "I guess I'll wear my pants."

The following resources are meant to help you explore these messages in a fun way at home or in the classroom.

Skits and Songs
Help your child create a short skit or song based on one of the illustrations in the book. Ask them to think about who that person might and how they might act. Start with some of the more obvious examples such as clown pants, chef pants, etc.
To get play started, act out one of the illustrations yourself first and then ask them to join in with your or come up with their own example. Another option is to work with your child to make up a story related to the picture.
Daily Affirmation
The original idea for You Have to Wear Pants! arose from a daily interaction with my own toddler daughter. Each morning when she saw me with my sleep pants still on she would announce: "You have to wear pants." As sort of a game I would say back: "But I don't want to wear pants." Reference to book in your morning routine, encouraging your child to be the one to declare that "you have to wear pants." Answer back that "you can wear any pants you want but you have to wear pants." The goal is to make getting dressed his or her idea.
Every Day Dress Up
You don't have to buy a lot of fancy costumes to play dress up. You can encourage creative play using the clothes in your own child's drawers or closet along with basic craft supples.
Help your child layout some or all of their clothes and encourage them to create new outfits. You can use the illustrations in the book as a guide - ask them to pick out their "show pants, fancy pants, lucky pants, etc." You can also use craft supplies to help your child make their own versions of the pants in the book.
Key Skills and Knowledge:

​Learning to get dressed represents important developmental milestones for children.

Fine motor skills - The physical skills required to use and coordinate several small muscle movements to complete a task. Examples include using buttons and zippers.

Gross motor skills - The physical skills required to use and coordinate larger muscles of the body to complete a task. Examples including pulling arms through sleeves and standing on one leg to pull on pants.

Cognitive skills - The mental skills involved in every day thinking, knowing, reasoning and remembering. Examples include knowing the right order to put on clothes and the ability to choose appropriate clothes based on activity and weather. Also included in this area are language skills such as the naming of different pieces of clothing and awareness of the time of day and relative condition of the day.

Dressing Tips and Strategies:

​Teaching a child to dress themselves is slightly different for each child and it's important to not get frustrated. Here are some tips and strategies.

  • Practice dressing on a stuffed animal

  • Allow extra time for dressing

  • Buy slightly larger sized outerwear

  • Look for larger buttons and zippers

  • Break dressing down into steps

  • Have them say each step with you

  • Sit down when dressing to start

  • Look for clothes w/ obvious front/back

  • Start with undressing first

  • Start with elastic bands and velcro

  • Practice buttons/zippers before wearing

  • Use a mirror when dressing

  • Offer choices and let them pick

  • Lay out all clothing before dressing

  • Help just when they need help

  • Resist the urge to "take over"

  • Try teaching the last step first

  • Teach them to look for tags

  • Try to establish a regular routine

  • Guide with your hand over their hand

  • Keep it fun

Dressing Development Milestones:


1 Year:

  • Remove socks

  • Take off a hat

  • Assist with sleeves and pant legs


2-2.5 Years:

  • Remove shoes

  • Push down pants

  • Use large buttons


3 Years:

  • Put on t-shirt with help

  • Put arms through sleeves

  • Put socks on with help

  • Push off shirt once it's over the heads


4 Years:

  • Identify the back and front of clothes

  • Take off t-shirts

  • Use buckles and zippers

  • Put socks on correctly

  • Put on shoes with some help


5 years:

  • Dress and undress

  • Lace and tie shoes

Coloring Pages
You can wear short pants - coloring page.
You can wear show pants - coloring page.
You can wear smarty pants - coloring page.
You can wear clown pants - coloring page.
Childhood dresing development milestones.
Childhood dressing development milestones 3-5
Tips and strategies for teaching your child to dress themselves.
Even more tips and strategies to teach your child to get dressed on their own.
Important childhood skills and knowledge related to getting dressed fine motor and gross motor.
Important childhood skills and knowledge involved in getting dressed cognitive skills.
Every day dress up game to encourage your child to learn to dress themselves.
Fun daily way to encourage your child to get dressed.
Encourage your child to want to get dressed using skits and songs.
Match Game / Role Play Game

Download and print out the sheets below. Print out two copies of each sheet. Optionally you can run the sheets through your printer a second time and print the backs with the back sheet. Cut out the cards to use with the match game and the role play game. Instructions for both games are available on the third sheet.

Pants Match Game Sheet 1
Match Game Sheet 2
Match Game Sheet 2
Match Game Back Sheet


  • Wix Facebook page
  • Pinterest Social Icon

© 2017-2019 by Dominic R. Villari

230 N. Maple Ave. Ste B1 #345, Marlton, NJ 08053