Balance refers to the ability of a person to hold a controlled position during a task. It would not be possible for you to walk, climb stairs or even sit without balance and coordination. Balance can be classified into two categories.
Static balance refers to a person’s ability to stay in a certain position while remaining stationary. On the other hand, dynamic balance refers to a person’s ability to hold a position while being in motion. Both are very important for you to function effectively in any environment.
Coordination refers to getting your body parts to move in a coordinated fashion to achieve any task. Balance and coordination develop gradually in your childhood.
Babies can’t do much except lie down at first. Slowly, they learn to sit up and crawl. Gradually, their coordination and balance improve.
What to do If Your Child Struggles to Find Balance?
If your child is struggling to find balance and is not meeting their developmental milestones, they might have suffered an injury during birth. These injuries can occur during difficult births due to the negligence of the doctor in charge.
If you suspect something like this has occurred, get your child medical help as soon as possible. Also, look at some free legal resources to help bring the person responsible to justice. Moreover, try to help your child through the following building blocks necessary for developing their coordination and balance.
Here are some necessary building blocks to develop balance and coordination in children:
- Hand dominance
Hand dominance consistently favors one hand over the other when performing any complex task. This usually develops at 2 to 4, but children can still swap their dominant hand with the other.
A clear hand preference is established at 4 to 6 years of age. The development of a dominant hand is important for the child to master any skill. Consistently using one hand to do a task repeatedly will ensure that the child masters it much more quickly than if they continue to switch between the two. Favoring one hand also develops fine motor skills, precision, and strength.
- Body awareness
Body awareness is a person’s awareness of the position of their body parts in space. It begins at 4 to 6 months and is important for children to learn so they can coordinate their body parts around other objects and through space.
Children lacking body awareness appear clumsy and uncoordinated because they are unaware of where their body parts are. They might also have trouble imitating the movements of others. Occupation therapy can help such kids develop body awareness.
Additionally, mirrors are great tools that allow the child to compensate for their lack of body awareness with their sight to know where their body parts are.
- Crossing mid-line
A child who crosses the midline can reach across the middle of their body to complete a task on the other side. This requires both sides of the brain to communicate and helps kids develop their bilateral integration.
Children usually develop this ability at 4 to 6 months of age and continue to develop it for the next 8 or 9 years. If you see your baby lacking in this area, you can boost the development of this ability by lying them down on their stomach with toys in from of them and encouraging them to reach for the toys. Also, try to get them to clap at the midline of their body.
- Bilateral integration
Bilateral integration is the ability of a person to use both sides of their body at the same time. This is a very important ability because most basic movements, like walking, require you to use both sides of your body.
It can be further classified into symmetrical, asymmetrical, and reciprocal movements. Symmetrical movements are those where both limbs perform the same movements, like during clapping.
Asymmetrical movements are where both sides work together but perform different tasks, with one side leading and the other supporting. An example of asymmetrical movement is tying your shoelaces. Lastly, reciprocal movements are those where both sides perform the same task but in a rhythmic motion, like walking or swimming. If you see your child struggling with any of these, take them to see a doctor immediately.
- Sensory processing
When a child is exposed to different sensory inputs, they start to learn to organize them and assign some meaning to them. When they eventually learn to focus on one sensation, they can perform better at any task. Their movements are no longer clumsy and uncoordinated but precise and refined.
Eventually, they can process multiple sensory inputs at a time, making them more connected to their environment. If your child shows heightened reactions to certain sounds or touch or no reaction, they might have difficulties with sensory processing.
They may also appear disinterested in their surroundings and have trouble regulating emotions. If you observe these behaviors in your child, immediately consult a therapist.
- Attention and Concentration
Attention is the ability to ignore irrelevant stimuli and focus on the task at hand for long enough to practice it repeatedly. Repeated practice is essential for the development of balance and coordination. Lack of attention and concentration can lead to difficulties in learning new skills, socializing, and following instructions. Hence, if you suspect your child has trouble concentrating and paying attention to most things, get them evaluated by a professional to figure out how to help them.
Balance and coordination are required for you to accomplish any task, whether simple or complicated. A child having problems with balance and coordination may also face social isolation and poor self-esteem due to their inability to perform tasks.
Hence, it is important to aid the development of these skills by paying attention to the child’s body awareness and bilateral integration. See if they can reach the midline and are developing a dominant hand. Try to judge their attention span and how they process sensory inputs. These building blocks help develop a child’s balance and coordination.