Toddlers usually don’t need much encouragement when it comes to hand movements. What some toddlers suffer from, however, is coordinated muscle movement of the fingers, thumb and wrist, resulting in a delay in grasping and manipulating objects.
The development of motor functions in children is crucial for a host of physical and mental skills. While some toddlers don’t need any prodding, others need encouragement in learning how to use their hands with more precision. Given time and lots of support, your toddler can easily get there with the help of some strategic activities designed to develop their motor skills.
Strategies for Developing Fine Motor Skills
1. Pointing of the Finger
Pointing to objects or pictures in books is a good exercise for the development of individual finger movement. Even allowing your child to press buttons or doorbells is a good strengthening activity for the index finger.
2. Banging and Hammering
Activities such as banging on a toy drum with a drumstick or scooping sand or water help strengthen a child’s grasp. They also help in strengthening arm movement extending from the shoulder to the elbow, down to the wrist.
3. Dressing and Undressing
If your toddler loves dressing up, encourage his obsession by providing him with a heap of manageable clothes that he can put on and take off. The simple task of dressing and undressing provides your toddler with plenty opportunity to practice finger and hand coordination.
4. Stacking and Sorting
Toddlers take pleasure in the act of piling things up only to knock them down. It’s why building blocks were created to help with fine motor skills development in children. To promote the ability of stacking objects, you could initially provide your toddler with empty tissue boxes or shoe boxes before moving onto smaller items. Once your toddler masters this movement you could introduce him to stacking blocks. It allows for better finger and hand coordination while at the same time your child will learn to sort the blocks according to their colour, shape and size.
5. Self-Spoon and Finger Feeding
Allowing your child to eat with their fingers while gradually helping them learn to eat with a spoon is another set of daily activities which greatly assist motor skills development. Learning to grasp and eat with a spoon is especially important for developing a child’s pincer grasp, which is one of the biggest milestones for a child to overcome.
6. Scribbling and Drawing
Somewhere between the ages of 12 to 18 months, your toddler will take to scribbling illegible markings. Drawing with a crayon opens up a host of opportunities to fine tune their motor skills. On your part, do all you can to shower praise on them for every time they present you with their handiwork. Encourage them further by setting up big sheets of paper to the table and allowing them to tap into their imagination with crayons or washable pens.
Each toddler is unique. They develop at their own pace. Parents should always pause to remember this before beginning to worry about their toddler’s delay in grasping and manipulating objects. Pushing them to achieve different milestones is bound to have an opposite effect!