Dressing Skills: Developmental Steps for Kids

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Dressing may seem like a simple task, but it is actually a task that requires multiple skill sets from children. Dressing requires skills girl dressing such as fine and gross motor coordination, body awareness, bilateral coordination, right/left discrimination, postural stability, and motor planning. As a parent, it can be difficult to know at what age a child should develop certain skills in dressing.

Developmental steps of self-dressing skills in children*:

1 year:

  • Pulls off shoes
  • Removes socks
  • Pushes arms and legs through garments

2 years:

  • Helps pull down pants
  • Finds armholes in pullover shirts
  • Removes unfastened jackets
  • Removes untied shoes

2.5 years:

  • Removes pull-down elastic waist pants
  • Unbuttons large buttons
  • Puts on front button shirt

3 years:

  • Puts on socks and shoes (though it might be the wrong feet or socks upside down)
  • Puts on pullover shirts with some help
  • Buttons large buttons
  • Pulls down pants
  • Zips and unzips with help to place on track

3.5 years:

  • Identifies front of clothing
  • Snaps fasteners
  • Unbuckles belt
  • Buttons 3-4 buttons at a time
  • Unzips jacket zipper

4 years:

  • Removes pull over shirts without help
  • Buckles belt
  • Zips jacket
  • Puts on socks correctly
  • Identifies front and back of clothing

5 years:

  • Dresses alone
  • Ties and unties knots

6 years:

  • Ties bows and shoelaces

According to Jayne Shepherd (2005), achieving independence in dressing may take up to 4 years. During this time, parents gradually perform fewer of the tasks, and encourage their children to do more, with the ultimate goal of independence.

*Source:

Shepherd, J. (2010). Activities of daily living and adaptations for independent living. In J. Case-Smith, (Ed.), Occupational therapy for children (5th ed., p., 501). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

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Lauren Weichman

Lauren Weichman is an Occupational Therapist and a former Special Education teacher. She has always had passion for working with kids to reach their full potential in leading successful and happy childhoods. She attended Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana to earn her Bachelors degree in Special Education, with a focus on mild disabilities. Upon graduation she became a certified learning behavior specialist in Illinois and taught special education in the Chicagoland area for 3 years. Her classroom consisted of children with a variety of diagnoses, including learning disabilities, behavior disabilities, Autism, ADHD and others. Lauren made the decision to pursue the field of occupational therapy in order to work with children in achieving goals in all areas of their lives. She attended Rush University in Chicago, Illinois to earn her Masters degree in occupational therapy. While a student, she completed a twelve-week internship at North Shore Pediatric Therapy (NSPT). During this time she worked with the NSPT therapists and staff to learn first hand of the fundamentals of pediatric occupational therapy. Lauren is also a participant in the Best Buddies Illinois and is an active member of their Associate Board.

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