For all individuals our foundation needs to be strong before we work on strengthening our extremities. Imagine a tree……the larger and stronger the trunk is, the more branches it can hold. This same theory works in our bodies. We must strengthen the core muscles in order for our foundation to be strong enough to produce good strength in our arms & legs. The core is comprised of the stomach, back, glutes, and hips. Our middle needs to be strong in order to stabilize our upper & lower bodies. Our arm & legs can will be most effective with a strong core.
Many children with developmental delays present with low tone and a weak core. Once we strengthen the core muscles our child will have a host of benefits. A strong core helps strengthen the upper & lower body, improves fine motor coordination, improves breath patterns, improves posture, and increases endurance. Children will be able to navigate their environment better which in turn will help them continue to strengthen more.
Developmental activities are things that children can be doing every day to improve their overall strength, brain developmental and neurodevelopment. The movements can be varied and should be fun!! Children should enjoy moving their bodies in different ways – but the activities may be challenging and this is where fun is the key. When a child is motivated by a fun game, noise, or person, they are much more likely to continue the activity.
These are three of my favorite (must-do) developmental activities to enhance our child’s growth:
- Game Play on the STOMACH – performing activities on their stomach helps strengthen a child’s back as well as gives intense input to the vestibular system (an important component to sensory integration). Try rolling a ball back & forth while lying on the stomach; pretend you are airplanes by lifting both arms & legs.
- Crawling – Even after a child has grown past the stage of crawling it is a wonderful activity to improve coordination, increase strength, and improve brain development. Research has shown that children with developmental delays were more likely to not have crawled or had an awkward crawl (army crawl, one leg straight crawl). Make it fun by crawling to get items in the kitchen; have them give their toys a “horseback” ride on their back while crawling.
- Specific CORE strength activities – Core strengthening is super important for people of all ages, but children need it done differently. For the activity to be successful it must be fun. Children do not typically enjoy route exercises so make it a game. Lift into a bridge from a prone position and drive cars underneath; pull the child on a blanket around the room while seated, their core will kick in to stabilize them; do the wheelbarrow walk to retrieve items in a treasure hunt; hold yourself into a ball and pretend to be a roly-poly; or walk out over a ball into a plank.
Incorporating these activities throughout the day on a regular basis will improve your child’s development and growth.
For more activities that are specific to your child, please speak with your therapist.