This is a continuation of Motor Tips for Parents – Part 1 where I try to summarize the answers to questions and pointers I’ve given to my friends who have become parents in recent years.
- Less Equipment, More Floor Time – I know its a challenge in this day and age to avoid the plethora of equipment that is available for kids and babies because they make parents lives easier and can keep kids contained and occupied. However, this limits their chances for movement, sensory and environmental exploration. Equipment such as exersaucers and bumbo chairs, while not bad when used in moderation or for therapeutic purposes with kiddos who need extra support, can get in the way of movement development if used excessively. Kids benefit from practicing figuring out sitting and standing through trial and error, not to mention they develop their motor planning by figuring out what works and what doesn’t work as they not only try to maintain sitting and standing but also work to get into those positions. By just putting your kiddos in bumbo chairs and exersaucers all day long (okay exaggeration there to help my point) they are getting extra stability and support that they wouldn’t normally have when trying to explore the motion on their own. Now I’m not saying don’t use equipment but be aware of how much time your child gets for floor time.
- Practice, Repetition, Consistency – A lot of times parents, or my friends have questions about how to teach their child a new skill. Obviously depending on the skill there are going to be different techniques involved but a big factor is that to master a new skill kids (and adults) need lots of practice, repetition and consistency. If you want your child to learn how to get off the couch without diving head first then every time you get them off the couch help them to turn around and go down feet first (it even helps if you add a consistent phrase to the activity). If you pick them up and set them down on the floor every time it doesn’t give them any frame of reference. Same for a kiddo learning to sit up on their own. If they are lying down and you want to get them into sitting, help them move through the motions of getting into sitting rather than picking them up and placing them in a nice sitting position. In the beginning you will probably have to help them a lot but they will start to get the hang of it and figure it out on their own. Feel free to apply this concept to almost any skill your child is working to develop!