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Dressing Skills: Developmental Steps for Kids

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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How To Tie A Shoe Part 1 | Pediatric Therapy TV

In today’s webisode, a Pediatric Occupational Therapist shows us the first steps in teaching a child “How To Tie Their Shoes”.   Click here to read a blog with how to steps on shoe tying:

Click Here For Part 2 Of Shoe Tying

In this Video You Will Learn:

  • When your child is ready to tie shoes
  • What materials you need to prepare your child for shoe tying
  • What story you should use when teaching your child to tie shoes

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman. In today’s segment, Marissa Edwards, Pediatric
Occupational Therapist, will be showing us how to teach tying a
shoe. Marissa?

Marissa: Hi. The first part of today’s how-to, which is shoelace tying,
is how to prepare your child to be able to accomplish this
skill. First of all, shoelace tying is an expected skill for a
child to achieve by the age of 7 years old. So just keep that in
mind. Kids a lot younger than that can also tie their shoes, but
it is expected by 7.

Kids are going to need a lot of repetition in order to learn how
to do this skill. All kids are different. Some kids may need six
months or more of repetition in order to get it. Some kids may
need just a few weeks. It’s all based on their own abilities.

A strategy I use to help kids start to learn this skill is I
teach them how to make friendship bracelets. Just by doing that
initial knot over and over and over, they get that skill down
and mastered. Another strategy that I will use sometimes is
using two different colored laces because that will help the
child to remember which lace does what.

Then the way that I teach kids is I use a pirate story, which
was actually published in the Advanced Magazine for Occupational
Therapists. In the next part of this segment I am going to
actually show you the story.

Robyn: Thank you, Marissa, and thank you to our viewers. And remember,
keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of
mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To
subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit
our website at LearnMore.me. That’s LearnMore.me.

Loop, Swoop, and Pull! Teaching Shoe Tying

Learning to tie shoes can be an exciting milestone for a child; however, teaching your child to tie their shoes can feel very daunting! Here are some tips to make it a littler easier and much less stressful.

Tips for making shoe tying a little easier

  • Child's hands tying shoeTake your child’s lead to determine if they are ready to learn this new skill. Children typically have the coordination and dexterity to tie their shoes by the time they are going to preschool or kindergarten. This, however, is not a steadfast rule and some kids may be ready earlier and some later.
  • Find a time to practice when
    you are not rushing out the door. Before or after dinner or on the weekend might be a good time to sit down and practice.
  • Choose a method and break it down into steps. Whether you use the two loop or one loop method be sure to go step by step. Either method starts with making an “X” and then a knot. Sometimes this is a good place to stop. Have your child master these first two steps before moving on.
  • When you are demonstrating for your child make sure you are sitting beside or behind them so that they are watching from the correct angle rather than in front of them where they would have to mirror your movements.
  • A rhyme or story can help your child remember the steps to shoe tying. One of the best known and simple rhymes is “Loop, swoop, and pull.”
  • When you first begin, have your child practice with their shoe on the floor or on the table. Sometimes this is easier as they can get up close and see what they are doing. There are also books and dolls available that have laces for practice.
  • Praise them for each step that they master! A little encouragement goes a long way!