Have you ever noticed that some kids just seem to be accident prone? They trip and fall over air, do not have much coordination, and do not seem to move as fluidly as other children, why is this?
Well, there are quite a few reasons why a child (or an adult) is clumsy. It can be so difficult and tiresome trying to prevent your clumsy kid from hurting themselves, but understanding the reasons for their clumsiness can help you target activities to help improve their deficits.
Proprioception is one of our eight senses and it helps us know where our body is in space. If you close your eyes, you know where your foot is and where your head is or if you spin in a circle, you know when to stop to get back to your starting place. This sense helps us keep a proper distance from other people and things in our paths.
Clumsy kids might struggle with this sense but you can work on it by incorporating lots of weightbearing activities like crawling, climbing, pulling a full wagon and wheelbarrow walking. Also, play games like simon says and sing hokey pokey to bring more awareness to each body part, it is fun and inviting and a great mind and body exercise for kids!
If a child isn’t able to stand up straight or balance on a bumpy surface without falling, then yes they appear very clumsy. While their actions are normally attributed to climsiness, it could be that they have a weak vestibular sense, which helps them receive information from their movements. In children, poor balance can be caused by frequent ear infections or fluid in the ears since the vestibular sense is housed in the inner ear.
They might also have poor balance from muscular weakness in their core and legs. To improve these weaknesses, incorporate lots of movement that encourage squatting and standing, rolling, swinging, and changing positions (another thing to fill all that free time with, right mama?). Some examples include squatting to clean up all of their toys and putting them into a bin on a table. You can also try yoga or homemade obstacle courses to encourage different body movements and work on balancing through exercise. Finally, venture outside and encourage your child to walk or run across the grass, bumpy sidewalks, or sand at the beach for some great balance practice.
Vision plays a vital role in how we take in and process the world. The obvious part to that is that a child has to be able to see or have 20/20 vision to be specific. But theres more to vision than meets the eye (We love a good pun!). Depth perception and visual tracking are two key areas of visual development that mature over time and if theyre not up to speed, clumsiness will ensue. Depth perception begins developing around 4 months, especially during tummy time practice. Crawling is also a really important time that depth perception matures.
What you can do? Bring back crawling and tummy time into play (it doesn’t matter that your child isnt a baby anymore!) Play games on your bellies and crawl around the room during a game of chase (you’ll even feel your muscles working hard!). Go outside and blow bubbles up into the air and have your child watch them fall, trying to pop them as they come closer. Play a game of I-Spy to track items around the room and encourage doing mazes and connect-the-dot worksheets. If your child is really struggling in this area, a developmental optometrist is a good specialist to see along with a specialized vision therapist.