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Buttons and zips

Some children can find it hard to open and close buttons and zips but there are a number of ways you can help them develop this skill.

Buttons

If your child is struggling to do up their buttons, you can try:

  • Using large buttons on dolls or jumpers and starting from the bottom so they learn to match the buttons to the holes. Once they’re confident with this, move onto smaller buttons
  • Using the ‘backward chaining technique’ where you leave the last small step, e.g. pulling the last button through the hole. When they’ve mastered that step, you let them to do the last two steps and so on until they can get do their buttons up themselves
  • Removing and reattaching the buttons so there’s about half an inch of thread between the button and the fabric to make it easier
  • Encouraging your child to do up their buttons in front of a mirror
  • Replacing all buttons, including sleeve buttons, with Velcro fastenings or poppers
  • Using a shoe box, cut a variety of slots into the lid and ask your child to put buttons or coins through them
  • Making a ‘Button Board’ by sewing flaps onto a piece of fabric and doing them up with large buttons, making the button hole a quarter of an inch larger than the button. Try putting fun pictures underneath the flaps to encourage your child to open them
  • Using threading cards, games and activities

Zips

If your child is struggling to do up zips, you can try:

  • Showing them how to do up and undo a zip, asking them to help you with it
  • Adding zip tags (a piece of ribbon, a zip ring or large paperclip) to make it easier to grasp
  • Starting with large zips which have big tabs or rings as these slide more easily
  • Practising unzipping a purse or pocket to reveal a surprise
  • Replacing zips with Velcro tabs to encourage independence if your child is still having difficulties

If you’ve tried all of these techniques and you’re still not seeing any improvement after four months, please read the referral criteria so that we can ensure your enquiry is directed to the right area and follow the directions on that page.