Fine motor skills


The ability to button and manipulate clothing fasteners is a significant self-care skill most parents want their child to learn. This is an important task children need to have independence with dressing.


It requires coordinated movements of both hands while both hands perform separate tasks at the same time.

It requires a good pincer grasp to hold onto the button, as well as intrinsic hand strength to push the button through the hole while the other hand firmly holds onto the button hole. Buttoning requires visual motor skills and motor planning.

Advice and strategies

Pre-button skills

  • Posting games, such as pennies into a piggy bank.
  • Threading games.
  • Post pennies through a slit in a piece of paper or lid of a tub.

Button skills

  • Practise buttons outside of stressful, busy dressing times.
  • Make sure your child is sitting comfortably.
  • Start with undoing buttons first.
  • Use a garment that the child is not wearing with large buttons and work towards smaller buttons.
  • Use dressing toys to practice buttons.
  • Start the button for your child and encourage them to finish doing up the button.
  • Hide toys or treats inside a buttoned pouch and ask your child to find it.
  • Sit your child in front of a mirror to help them see what they are doing.
  • Use correction fluid or a marker to paint half of a large button, this will help your child understand where to hold the button and which part of the button goes through the opening first.
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