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Cyndi demonstrates how-to support children with zipping a zipper

Last week, I talked about encouraging your children or students to do more functional tasks, in order to help them feel and be more independent. One of the functional tasks, which will come in handy more now that it’s cold in most parts of the world, is zipping up a coat. This can be a difficult task for children to complete because there are many steps, however, my video will assist you in how to best support your child or student through this process in a fun and visual way.

Side note to parents and teachers, give yourself a break if you get frustrated during this process. It may take 5, 10 or more than 20 tries until your child/ student gets the zipper engaged and is then able to pull one hand down to push the zipper up. I am giving you permission to sigh. If you need to leave the room for a second to jump up and down, punch the air or pull at your hair, it’s alright.

The Process:

The first thing you want to do is take Wite-Out® or nail polish and make a visual spot where the slither is where the part of the zipper will slide into. This slither is quite small to children, so it’s good to give them that visual so they know where that piece of the zipper needs to go.

Next, put the hood of the coat on your child or student’s head to give them the opportunity to find the areas where their arms go. If the coat doesn’t have a hood, you can hold the coat open, and have the child back into the coat to find the arm holes. Then, have your child hold one side of the zipper, you can hold the other side, show them those colored spots and ask them to put the part they are holding in the colored part you are holding.

Finally, take your hand and pull down on the coat while your child pulls the zipper up. Eventually, your child will be able to do this part without your assistance, however, the first couple times you do this, I recommend you stabilizing the zipper down, because these two contradictory hand motions of pulling down with one hand and pulling up with the other hand are very difficult for most children to grasp the first couple go-arounds.

If you are beginning to teach your child or student how to zip up their coat and you have been using my methods, let me know how it’s going. If you’re experiencing some difficulty, I am happy to offer more solutions from my OT toolbox. Please either leave me a comment below or send me an email at Thank you so much for watching and thank you for working with children!

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