Fine motor skills are a developmental milestone that all children will reach at some point. There are many activities and everyday skills such as picking objects up off the floor, turning the page of a book, and brushing your teeth that require fine motor skills. This article will discuss how pediatric chiropractic care can help improve your child’s neural brain development and fine motor skills.
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What are fine motor skills?
Fine motor skills refer to the use of small muscles in the hands and fingers. These fine movements dictate your child’s ability to do things like button a shirt, tie their shoes, write legibly, and put together puzzles. The development of fine motor skills is essential because it lays the groundwork for more complex tasks like writing.
What are gross motor skills?
Gross motor skills are a more significant, more complex movement of the body. Examples include running and jumping. These use larger body muscles and are typically easier for children to develop than fine motor skills. Even though these terms may go hand in hand, they are significantly different.
How do fine motor skills develop?
Fine motor skills develop over time as a child’s brain, nervous system, and muscles mature. Typically, fine motor skills are developed by the age of three. However, every child is different, and some may take a little longer to develop these skills. Several key factors contribute to the development of fine motor skills:
The more muscle strength a child has in their hands and fingers, the easier it will be to do fine motor tasks.
The hand that your child predominantly uses is called their dominant hand. Most children have a dominant hand, but some may use both equally. It’s important to note which hand is dominant because this will determine what activities your child is better at doing with that hand.
Eye-hand coordination is the ability to move your eyes and hands together to do a task. Eye-hand coordination develops over time and is needed for tasks that require fine motor skills.
Sense of Touch
The sense of touch helps a child know where their hands are in space. Touch is essential for tasks such as picking up a small object.
Signs Your Child’s Fine Motor Skills Are Lacking
If you’re concerned that your child’s fine motor skills are lagging, there are several signs to look for.
Some common indicators that a child may have difficulty with fine motor skills include:
- Difficulty picking up small objects
- Problems holding a pencil or crayon correctly
- Inability to turn the pages of a book
- Difficulty tying their shoes
- Difficulties zipping up a jacket
Ways to Improve Fine Motor Skills
If you feel like your child’s development isn’t on track and are looking for ways to improve their fine motor skill ability, here is a list of activities for younger and older children that will help your child develop these skills.
Activities for Young Children
- Play-Doh or Putty – Play-Doh or putty is a fun activity for younger children to improve their fine motor skills. Encourage your child to squeeze, pinch, roll or stretch the putty. This type of play is also great for sensory play for your child’s development.
- Painting – Painting allows your child to play, use their hands, and get a little messy. Whether you do finger-paint or painting with a brush, it can help strengthen eye-hand coordination and dexterity.
- Sponges – Playing with sponges is an easy and simple activity that doesn’t require much setup. You will need a clean sponge, two bowls, and water. Put water in one bowl and leave the other empty. Encourage your child to soak up the water in one bowl and squeeze the water out into the empty bowl. This is a great activity to strengthen hand and forearm muscles.
- Rice Activity Bowl – This is another easy and fun activity you can play along with your child. You will need four bowls, plain white rice, and tweezers. Put plain rice in two of the bowls and leave the other two empty. You can make this fun and have a race with your child and have them pick out the rice with the tweezers to the empty bowl. Whoever can get all of their rice from one bowl to the other wins. You can do this activity with any small object.
- Water – Water play is fun and great for improving fine motor skills. What you’ll need for this activity is cups, water, and an eyedropper. Put water in one cup and have your child use the eyedropper to move the water from one cup to another. Add a little bit of food coloring for some extra fun!
- Gardening – This is a great activity to get your child outdoors. Let your child use a trowel to dig a small hole and transfer seedlings from the package to the hole. Gardening is a significant emotional and behavioral activity that can allow your child to see their hard work as the plants grow and thrive.
Activities for Older Children
There are many activities to refine and improve fine motor skills in older children as their neural development is more advanced than in younger children.
Here is a small list of some activities you can encourage your child to do:
- Building – This may sound wild, but allow your child to help with home repairs. Let them hold and use hand tools like hammers and screwdrivers to fix things around the house. This also improves hand-eye coordination.
- 3D puzzles – Foam puzzles that create models or buildings are great for improving fine motor skills. Sometimes it’s better to start with simple foam puzzles first and then work your way up to more complicated ones.
- LEGOs – LEGOs are great for older children. Find an advanced LEGO project that has hundreds or even thousands of pieces. They can build many new and unique things.
- Playing a musical instrument – Playing an instrument can significantly improve fine motor skills, such as playing the piano, guitar, or a woodwind instrument. Private lessons can sometimes be pricey, but most schools offer band as an extracurricular activity which can also provide your child with a new social setting and opportunity to make new friends.
- Cooking – Get your child in the kitchen and let them cook with you. It can be as easy as making a homemade pizza together. Kneading the dough, spreading the pizza sauce, and sprinkling cheese are all great activities to improve fine motor skills. It’s a great way to spend and enjoy time together.
How can pediatric chiropractic care improve fine motor skills?
Pediatric chiropractic care is effective and safe. It may seem scary for parents to send their child to visit a chiropractor, but they can see some serious health benefits. Pediatric chiropractic care aligns your child’s spine, which allows their bodies to function at it’s best.
When you’re child’s body is aligned, your child’s immune system, nervous system, and behavioral emotions can be improved. Pediatric chiropractic care can do more than address nervous system issues, though. By gently aligning the spine, their nervous system can communicate to the rest of the body more efficiently. Increased brain development promotes the ability to concentrate better and have smoother small muscle movements.
Case studies have shown children with developmental delays can see benefits from regular chiropractic care. In one of the cases studied, a 4-year old boy “significantly improved his speech and fine motor skills” after seeing a chiropractor.
Fine motor skills are important for every child and can be improved with the right attention. You may know that fine motor skill development is crucial to childhood development, but it’s also integral in later life as well. Motor skill delays could lead to difficulties with handwriting or other tasks requiring good dexterity, which means you should pay close attention to your child’s abilities in this area. Pediatric chiropractors who specialize in children can help improve a child’s fine motor skills by helping them adjust their spine through gentle adjustments.
Contact ADIO Chiropractic today if you want more information about how we can help make sure your young one develops into a happy, healthy adult.