Although toddlers begin learning how to dress themselves around age 2, typically they don't gain enough coordination to button their own pants until age 3. Don't be surprised if your child takes a few weeks to master the art of buttoning a pair of pants. This task is tricky for tiny fingers. However, you can guide your child through this important dressing skill successfully with a little patience, encouragement and repetition.
Demonstrate how to button a pair of pants before requiring your little one to give it a try. Start off by asking your child to watch you as you button and unbutton your own pants. Repeat the action a few times so that your little one starts to get the idea.
Button your child's pants while holding your hands over hers. Hand-over-hand assistance gives her practice so she will know exactly where her hands go and what steps they must take to get the button fastened.
Instruct your child to hold the button with her right hand and the hole in the fabric with the left. This is the starting hand position that your little one should use when she is ready to try buttoning her pants all by herself.
Tell your child to push the bottom half of the button through the hole in the fabric.
Explain that once she pushes the bottom half the button through the fabric, she can let go of the fabric with her left hand and use that hand to help pull the button the rest of the way through the hole.
Praise your child for a job well done, or for trying her best if she didn't quite get her pants buttoned on her first try.
Repeat the task a few times each day until your child can button her pants like a pro.
- Recruit an older sibling to help if possible. Little ones tend to idolize their big brothers and sisters and might be more attentive to a sibling's instruction than a parent's.
- Consider purchasing a dressing doll for your toddler to practice on. Dressing dolls have buttons, snaps, hook and loop fasteners, and strings so that little kids can develop their fine motor skills in a playful environment.
- Never punish your child for not being able to button her pants. Use only praise and positive reinforcement to encourage your child to keep trying.
- Don't try to teach your child how to button her pants before nap time or bed time. Wait until she is fully rested and able to pay attention.
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