Dressing Skills | Buttons [PDF 155KB]

Helpful Hints:


Encourage your child to practice doing up buttons in loose fitting clothing. Loose fitting clothing is easier to manage than tight fitting clothing.  E.g. Practice putting on Dad’s flannel pj’s – this will generally be loose fitting and will have large buttons.


Practice with large buttons first as they are easier to hold. Large buttons do not require as much fine motor control.

Button Hole:

Ensure the buttons holes are not tight.  Get an old shirt and enlarge the button hole (slightly cut the material).  This will make it easier for your child to push the button through the button hole. By practising on a larger shirt with large buttons and large button holes your child will be able to learn the technique of doing up buttons.  Once this technique is learnt your child can then progress to doing buttons up without looking at what he/she is doing and doing up smaller buttons.


When practicing, start with the buttons at the bottom of the shirt.  This ensures your child can see the buttons they are doing up.  The top buttons requires you to do up buttons without looking. This is a lot harder.

Backward Chaining:

Use backward chaining.  E.g. As the parent you identify the button, then grasp the button and put it partly through the button hole.  Your child then grasps the button and pulls the button through the button hole. Praise your child immediately. Once your child has successfully completed this step, gradually increase the amount of the task your child is to complete.

This technique will give your child immediate success.  This is often a good technique for children who are quick to give up.

Taken from “Pre-Dressing Skills Revised by Marsha Dunn Klein, M.ED., OTR
Images from “Pre-Dressing Skills Revised by Marsha Dunn Klein, M.ED., OTR
Image from “Dressing Skills: Step by Step Visuals” by Your Therapy Source Inc.