Many children struggle with coordination for various reasons, ranging from sensory processing differences to cerebral palsy to dyspraxia/developmental coordination disorder (DCD). Often, there is no identified cause, the coordination trouble can have a real impact on our children’s lives. Regardless of the cause, there are numerous ways to support children in becoming active and improving their coordination. It’s important to recognize that coordination issues typically do not resolve on their own; the belief that children will “grow out of it” is often inaccurate. Instead of relying on the “wait and see” approach, here are actionable tips to help children build confidence, self-esteem, and an active lifestyle now and in the future.

1. Martial Arts & Swimming

These individual sports help improve body awareness, sensory processing, and balance. They’re sensory-rich and can be modified for individual differences. Structured activities like martial arts and swimming provide repetitive movements that enhance coordination and control. These activities also promote discipline and focus, essential components for children with coordination challenges. 🥋🏊‍♂️

2. Fun Movement

Explore fun, social, and noncompetitive activities like hiking, yoga, and creative movement. These activities are enjoyable and help develop coordination in a relaxed setting, encouraging children to participate without the pressure of competition. They also offer opportunities for social interaction and sensory exploration, which are beneficial for children with coordination difficulties. 🌳🧘‍♀️

3. Timing & Music

Encourage timing development with music and movement opportunities. Activities like dancing or playing musical instruments can enhance a child’s sense of rhythm and timing, which are crucial for coordinated movements. Engaging with music can also be a joyful and expressive outlet, providing both physical and emotional benefits. 🎶🎤

4. Adapt Environment

Adapt the environment for success with picture schedules, written lists, and typing instead of writing. These adaptations help children manage tasks more efficiently and reduce frustration, creating a more supportive learning environment. Using tools like pencil grips or raised line paper can also help children with fine motor challenges. 📋🖥️

5. Multitasking Practice

Practice listening, looking, and moving simultaneously with games like “I Spy” during walks. This helps children improve their ability to process multiple stimuli simultaneously, enhancing their overall coordination. Such activities also promote cognitive flexibility and attention to detail. 👀🚶‍♂️

6. Feedback Modeling

Model the use of feedback during play to bring awareness to the process and encourage improvement. For example, if you practice shooting a basketball with your child, bring attention to when you throw too hard, too soft, too high, or too low. Help your child notice these things and how to adapt next time they throw. Positive reinforcement and constructive feedback are crucial in this learning process. 🏀🎯

7. Backward Chaining

Help your child learn tasks by starting with the last step and working backwards to build independence. This technique makes complex tasks more manageable and less overwhelming for children with coordination difficulties. It allows them to experience success early and gradually build confidence and competence. 🔄

8. Sitting Supports

Use supports like yoga wedges or towel rolls to help your child sit upright. If your child is a wiggler when sitting for fine motor or reaching activities, they might need support for their core to feel stable. Proper sitting posture aids in better focus and coordination during activities that require fine motor skills. 🧘‍♂️

9. Postural Imbalances

If your child often falls out of their chair or trips frequently, they may have postural imbalances that hinder their ability to develop core strength and better coordination. A screening with a specialized physical therapist can identify these issues and provide targeted interventions to address them. Early intervention can lead to quicker progress and improved overall function. 🤾‍♀️

10. Team Up with a local Pediatric Physical Therapy and/or Occupational Therapist

Partner with a PT or OT specialist to lay a strong foundation for movement, ensuring more effective and successful practice. Professional guidance provides tailored strategies to address your child’s specific needs and promote better coordination. Regular sessions with a therapist can help monitor progress and adjust strategies as needed. 👋

Supporting a child with coordination troubles requires patience, encouragement, and the right strategies. By incorporating these tips into your daily routine, you can help your child build confidence, improve their skills, and enjoy a more active and fulfilling life. Remember, every child is unique, so it’s important to tailor your approach to what works best for them.

Kid PT, dedicated to helping children thrive, provides expert pediatric occupational and physical therapy to support children with coordination difficulties. Contact us to learn more about our personalized programs and how we can help your child reach their full potential and request a free screening HERE.

For more detailed strategies and insights, consider reading Joni Redlich’s book, “Turn Stumbling Blocks Into Building Blocks,” which offers a comprehensive movement blueprint for children with developmental challenges or request a free sample sent to your inbox HERE.