Fine motor skills and dressing


Why won't my kid just get dressed? Have you ever asked yourself that question?

Many skills go into the occupation of getting dressed. Last week I talked about the sensory issues involved with getting dressed and wearing clothes.

Now, I’d like to highlight how fine motor skills impact dressing performance.

Fine motor skills include:

- Strength

-Coordination

-Dexterity

-Speed

-Accuracy

When we look at dressing, issue with fine motor skills may look like:

  • Being unable to grab their pant waist and pull up.

  • Difficulty managing the buttons or zippers on pants.

  • Coordinating movements to turn their shirt around.

  • Unable to tie shoes, or thread velcro loops.

As a caregiver what can you do to help?

  • Offer clothing that is appropriate for their skill level. Loose fitting clothing that has stretch is easier to put on. If you want them to be more independent - set them up for success!

  • Share the task with them- you can pull their socks halfway off, or put their head through their shirt and have them do the rest! This way you are promoting independence and building on the skills they have. This will help with self esteem and motivation.

  • Work with an OT to help isolate your child's skill level and make a plan to help them access their dressing and improve their skills! I can help you! Utilizing a coaching model in tele-health combined with direct skill instruction and feedback – you can better understand you child’s developmental level, adaptations to make them more independent, and get tailored activities that will improve skills.

There are also some great products that can be helpful for children with emerging skills or interest in dressing.


Dress up clothes: These are great for on/off practice and can help some kiddos get used to different fabrics. Magic cabin has some beautiful well made options.⁠

Buckle Buddy This is a great toy that has many buckles on it – fun practice and good to keep little hands busy!

Dressing Dolls Melissa and Doug Toys makes a very cute dressing bear!

Busy boards are also a great way to isolate practice on specific dressing tasks such as buttons, zippers, laces.

Practicing with actual clothing or bags/backpacks is great too!

With all these toys - always provide supervision as there may be small parts. ⁠

Always speak with your doctor if you have concerns about your child's development! They can refer you to specialists to help!

If you are a Pediatrician, MD, PA or NP - Make that referral!! There are therapists ready to help!

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