Developmental Progression of Dressing Skills
Becoming independent in dressing typically takes four years of practice and requires a variety of skills. Over time, children gain more awareness of where their body is in space and gradually learn how to move their arms and legs to complete dressing tasks. A child must learn how to coordinate the two sides of their body and use appropriate grip and force when manipulating clothing including fasteners. Sequencing or being able to complete dressing steps in the correct order is also an important skill required for dressing.
Around this age, children will be able to assist with dressing by cooperating during the activity such as pushing their arms through shirt sleeves and legs through pant openings. They will also be able to pull off their socks.
Toddlers at this age will be able to remove their coat after fasteners have been unfastened, as well as remove their shoes if they are not tied. They will also begin to help with pulling down their pants. Once a shirt is placed over their head by an adult, they can find and push their arms through the arm holes.
Toddlers at this age will start to be able to pull down pants with an elastic waistband. They will also start to assist with putting on socks, coat, and shirt. They will also be able to unbutton large buttons.
At age 3, toddlers will be able to put on a pullover shirt with little assistance. They will be able to put on their shoes, although they may attempt to place their foot in the wrong shoe. They will also be able to put on their socks with assistance needed to adjust the sock properly on their heel. Toddlers will start to button large buttons and zip and unzip a jacket if the shank is already connected.
Children at this age can distinguish between the front and back of clothing items and can dress themselves with supervision. They will be able to unzip a jacket and separate the shank independently. They will also start to learn how to unbuckle a belt with practice and button multiple buttons.
Children at this age will be able to remove pullover garment independently and place socks on their feet correctly. They may be able to lace their shoes but still need assistance with tying the laces. They will be able to fasten buckles and connect the shank and zip the zipper completely. When a child is around 4 1/2 years old, he or she will be able to weave belt through the belt loops on pants.
At age 5, children will be able to tie and untie knots. They will begin to dress without supervision.
At this age, children will tie bows and manage fasteners that are positioned on the back of garments.
Items that can help with dressing skills: