What parents need to do with their child to develop good motor skills.

By BabyLove Spokesperson and Clinical Psychologist, Leanne Hall

Toddlers are certainly curious. As soon as they become mobile, life is all about exploring. It can be an exhausting time for mums, however it’s a critical time in their child’s development.

As toddlers explore they learn. Whether it’s learning about the environment, or about what they can now do. Life is about acting and reacting – experimenting with the senses and learning to manipulate surroundings.

So what can parents do to help develop their child’s motor skills? Here are my top 5 tips.

  1. Encourage/support independence. This is the “I can do it” stage – even changing a nappy can be a battle for mums/parents. This is where Nappy Pants come in – delivering a quicker nappy change for mum whilst empowering infants to stand and pull up their own nappy – which more closely resembles underwear with its stretchy waistband. By allowing your child the opportunity to do things themselves they will develop confidence. This teaches them what their bodies can do, and sometimes more importantly, what they can’t do just yet!
  2. Encourage active play. Jumping, running, throwing, kicking and catching. Activities that develop strength and agility, help build your toddlers confidence in their growing body. Kick a ball with your toddler and take them to the park, or bring out a skipping rope or scooter. You might have more fun than your toddler!
  3. Activities to support fine motor skills. Puzzles, drawing and colouring in teach toddlers to coordinate smaller movements of the hands and eyes. This can be good “quiet play” in the hours before bed time, or early morning (if your toddler is an early riser).
  4. Allow your child to feed themselves (where possible). Yes this can be messy, but exploring the taste and textures of different foods is exciting and fun, not to mention important in supporting independence. Of course it’s also a way of developing motor skills and co-ordination.
  5. Let them try and dress themselves. I did say “try”. Learning how to initially pull up their nappy pants and progressing to do up buttons, tie up shoelaces and even tuck in shirts – these are all important ways to develop those fine motor skills, and again – promote independence and a healthy self-esteem (even if their clothing choice seems a little un-coordinated!).

An important job as a parent is to encourage and support independence while at the same time supporting the development of a healthy self-esteem. Toddlers are always on the go because there is so much to learn, and sometimes the challenge for mums is simply to keep up!

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