A certain degree of clumsiness is expected for toddlers. After all, up until the time they are about age three, according to pediatricians, their muscles are growing quickly. At the same time, their brains and nerves are rapidly expanding, and often, their body is a little slower than their brains expect their body to respond.
So when should you just let it go as a parent and let your child work out their clumsiness? And when should you be concerned? Here are some important tips.
Tripping is persistent
Parents who worry about their toddler being clumsy shouldn’t worry about every little fall. However, if:
- Your child falls several times a week
- They seem to injure themselves frequently
- Your child doesn’t use their hands to break their fall
Then you should consult your pediatrician to have a look at your child.
Get your child’s eyes examined
Opticians say that children are born somewhat nearsighted, so besides their bodies and brains working in conjunction, they may suffer from vision problems.
Often enough, part of their toddler’s coordination problems are due to vision problems, and many children never have a vision test until they start to go to school.
One parent in Vancouver Canada, worried about her daughter being clumsy, only to discover when she enrolled her into a junior kindergarten program her daughter had distinct eye problems.
Part of the junior kindergarten program required each child to have an eye test. When she took her daughter to the optician, she discovered her daughter had both nearsightedness and a lazy eye, which required her to wear glasses.
Opticians suggest that children have their first eye exam at one year of age, well below the age in which most children’s vision is tested.
Watch your child’s walking gait.
When toddlers begin walking, it’s often a joyous event for parents. However, many parents become concerned when they see their child pointing their feet inward or outward, known as in-toeing and out-toeing.
In the distant past, doctors even recommended special shoes and braces to prevent in-toeing and out-toeing until it was discovered these special shoes or braces did not do much for the child’s gait.
Instead, pediatricians now recommend that parents videotape their children’s walking gait if they have concerns about how they walk. Over time, the gait should straighten out naturally, and the parent can view progress.
If the child shows no progress over a couple of months or tends to favor one leg over another, your pediatrician will examine your child, and perhaps recommend your son or daughter see a pediatric orthopedics doctor.
Childproof your home again
When you first got your new baby, and especially when he or she was at the crawling stage, you no doubt childproofed your home.
Outside of the tips we’re providing, it is not much you can do to accelerate your child’s coordination, and he or she will trip and fall a lot.
Short of making your child wear a helmet and knee and arm pads 24 hours per day. What you can do is re-examine your home for walking hazards.
Consider removing, or at the very least, adding foam rubber around all tables or chairs your child may into. Be sure and off stairs, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other areas you don’t want your child to go into alone.
Be sure and make a concentrated effort to close every cupboard and drawer. Consider buying magnetic closures to keep everything tidy and shut.
Remove or solidly tape down any electric chords.
Provide a soft landing
Since there is no question that your toddler will fall, consider a soft landing. This doesn’t mean that you need to hide your beautiful slate or wood floors throughout the house but consider carpeting key plan and exercise areas.
For example, carpet the living room and your toddler’s room. It won’t be long before your little one realizes, “Hey, when I fall here, it doesn’t hurt.” Soon the carpeted areas will be their favorite roaming grounds, and as a parent, you’ll be able to relax a little.
It could be a developmental coordination disorder.
Most times, parental anxiety about their children being clumsy is due in part to parents reliving their childhood when they weren’t very coordinated and good at sport.
However, a small number of children are afflicted with a childhood disease known as developmental coordination disorder. Developmental coordination disorder happens when a child has difficulty developing the proper motor skills necessary for functioning.
About 5 percent or so of children are affected by developmental coordination disorder. While it was once thought that children would simply outgrow DCD, in actuality, symptoms frequently continue into adulthood.
Another fact concerning developmental coordination disorder is that it is frequently not alone.
For example, 50 percent of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder also are diagnosed as having developmental coordination disorder.
Speech-language delays and emotional and behavioral problems are often found in children with developmental coordination disorder.
A diagnosis of developmental coordination disorder is often a collaborative approach between several professionals, and norms will be established as to your child’s motor skills compared to other children.
Once diagnosed, there is no cure for DCD. However, task-based training, often with the help of an occupational therapist, can greatly accelerate your child’s skills at home and school.
Parents can help with coordination activities.
Many experts say that parents can greatly assist the coordination of their children through coordination building skills. Chasing a ball around the yard, throwing balls, trying to skip rope, and trying to follow mom or dad at hopscotch are all great activities that help build coordination.
Some parents even go the extra mode of buying a trampoline that mom and child can do together.