Developing independence in self care skills is one of our goals for all children. Children love the sense of accomplishment that comes with being independent.
There are so many great ways to help children learn to:
- do up buttons
- zip and unzip
- use press duds (also known as snaps)
You don’t even have to be using the buttons and zippers. So many activities practice the specific skills and are lots of fun.
What skills does your child need for buttons and zippers?
They need to be able to some complex things. They need:
- Bilateral Coordination (using both sides of the body and hands together)
- Visual Motor Skills (visual discrimination, eye-hand coordination, and tracking)
- Fine motor Skills (finger dexterity and a pincer grasp)
- Motor Planning (completing the activity from the beginning to the end in the correct order)
Why do some children have trouble with self help skills?
For the young children in our Bondi Junction clinic, there are many reasons why they may be behind in their play development. This can include:
However, the reason for the delay in self care skills isn’t the important thing. Working with a child to develop independence in this area is what matters. Identifying and treating self care skills early has such positive outcomes.
Let’s look more closely at what you can do at home to develop self care skills.
Play activities to work on self care skills
- Stringing beads (small, medium, or large beads depending on your child’s age)
- Cutting paper with one hand while holding the paper with the other hand
- Pushing toothpicks into styrofoam
- Sorting buttons into different sizes and shapes
- Lacing cards
- Peeling Stickers
- Threading buttons
- Using clothes pegs to pick up objects
- Squeezing tweezers or tongs to pick up things
- Using a hole punch to cut out designs on paper
Early zipper and button activities
- Make a button snake like this one from Happy Hooligans
- Cut a slot out of an empty box or plastic container and put buttons into the slit
- Practise using buttons and zippers on clothing that is not on the child’s body
Now you can start practising on clothing that is on the child’s body!
What to do if your child’s still can’t do up buttons and zippers?
Some children will need help learning self help skills. Occupational Therapists and Certified ESDM Therapists can help children with self help skills. The Occupational Therapist will assess the child to work out what skills need to be strengthened and improved to learn buttons and zippers. For young children in the Early Start Denver Model it is included in their program.