Why Is Buttoning And Zipping So Important For Fine Motor Skills?
Fine motor skills are the ability to make movements using the small muscles in our hands and wrists. Gross motor skills are the ability to make movements with whole body muscles and joints. Fine motor skills are very important for young children to achieve their daily tasks such as buttoning a shirt, tying shoe laces, grasping a pencil, using utensils, typing on a keyboard and much more. Fine motor skills can also help develop hand-eye coordination in young children.
Most children can get pants with elastic waists on themselves and pull a sweater or shirt over their heads, but the fine motor skills involved in zipping, snapping, and buttoning may be more challenging for young children. Buttons, zippers, snaps and buckles are all clothing fasteners that require finger dexterity and fine motor skills to open and close. The proximal muscles of the shoulder girdle and trunk function as a stabilizer when fastening clothing. Efficient control of the larger muscle groups in the neck, shoulder and trunk is necessary to maintain stability to place the fingers and hands in the proper position to button/unbutton, zip/unzip, snap and buckle. Young children need time to practice using their fine motor skills in everyday situations. Although it can be tempting for adults to jump in and finish buttoning or snapping shirts or pants or tying shoes because it is faster, it is important young children get the opportunity to finish these activities because it helps them work on developing their fine motor skills.
Using zippers is a complicated functional skill for kids. Managing two hands at the same time at the belly level, using one hand to hold down the zipper chamber and the zipper pull while the other hand is holding the end of the zipper and trying to thread it into the chamber it’s a huge motor planning process, requiring many essential skills.
It is important to remember that each child develops at his or her own pace, and that these are not set in stone, but it is often helpful to have a general idea of when these skills should be emerging. Below are the skills typically expected at the listed ages.
18 – 24 Months: Able to unzip a zipper with a large tab
2-3 Years: Able to unzip and unsnap clothing while wearing it
3-4 Years: Able to button and unbutton large buttons, unzip and zipper after it is “started”
5-6 Years: Able to hooks and zip up a zipper while wearing the clothing
If zipping or buttoning is an ongoing challenge in your child’s life, seek professional assistance from Jeevaniyam.
At Jeevaniyam we provide Occupational Therapy to help your child achieve independence with fasteners. Our team of doctors and occupational therapist assess & improve the skills such as sensory processing skills, balance and bilateral coordination skills, visual-perceptual skills, eye-hand coordination skills, postural control & proper stability in the context of buttoning or zipping in order to design appropriately targeted treatment strategies.