Quite some time back, I was picking up several kids from school. We had to cross a big monsoon drain to reach my car. My son and daughter crossed through without thinking too much about it. However, the other two kids were left on the ledge calling for help. This got me thinking. What caused the difference in the two responses?
In this article we will look at how children develop physical coordination over time; why it’s important; what affects its development; and how you can help your child remain physically coordinated throughout life.
Born to Move
Going back to the other two kids that were calling for help to cross the drain. After helping them cross over several times through months, they became more confident. Naturally, it takes exposure and practice.
As you watch your child explore his or her new environment, it’s important to remember that children are born with the ability to learn. They have an innate curiosity about their surroundings and a natural desire to move. The more we allow children’s natural behavior (such as crawling) without interfering, the more confident they become.
While it may seem counterintuitive, allowing our children to move freely actually helps them develop better coordination skills!
Instead of saying, “Be careful, you might fall!”, which may send fear signals to the child; try saying something like, “I’m right here if you need some help.” This gives the child the assurance that you believe they can do it and if they require help, you are right there for them.
With time and practice, we know that good motor skills will develop and so will their confidence level. It starts at a very young age.
Balance in Life and Balance on a Beam
Physical coordination involves the coordination of different parts of the body to help us perform specific tasks or activities. For example, when walking on an uneven surface like sand or grass, we need to coordinate our feet with our eyes so that we don’t trip over any obstacles in our path.
When playing football, we need to coordinate our hands with our feet so they can kick or catch the ball properly. When swinging from monkey bars at playtime, kids need good hand–eye coordination skills to grab onto something safely without hurting themselves.
In knowing the importance of this, we decided to expose our youngest to artistic gymnastics at a young age, and boy, do we see the difference in the confidence level in physical activity. There’s so much enjoyment when she goes to the playground. She’ll tackle the monkey bars, balance on a beam, hang upside down on a bar. It usually causes elderly people some discomfort for fear that she may fall. However, because she does it so often at her gymnastics class, she’s gained the muscles and coordination to do it well, and effortlessly.
More than just having fun at the playground, her brains are also at work. Figuring out how to do things better. She feels good about herself and is in the position to help her peers to have fun too!
Let your children feel the joy of their physicality, and they will take that joy with them into their world.
As you can see, physicality is important for mental health, emotional health, social health, spiritual health and physical health. It also helps with cognitive function! All of these things are related to confidence in the world at large. This means that you want your children to feel good about themselves by feeling good about their bodies and what they can do with them.
Physical coordination—or lack thereof—is an indication of how confident your child will be when interacting with others and in different environments. Most parents know that if their child is clumsy or falls frequently then he or she will grow up less confident because they don’t trust themselves on their feet or able to balance properly when walking across slippery surfaces in ice skating rinks and such.
There are many ways for kids to improve their physical coordination: climbing ropes at recess; jumping rope; catching balls thrown by other children; dancing around during music class; riding bikes outside after school ends each day; roller skating at the park…the list goes on!
At any given free time, instead of handing them a device to entertain themselves, encourage physical movement.
You don’t have to be a professional athlete or coach, but you do need to make sure that your children have the opportunity to learn about and develop their physicality. Sending them to basketball practice or swim class does require an amount of effort and sacrifice on the parents’ part, but it is well worth the investment. The better they feel about themselves as physical beings, the more capable they will be in life—and the less likely they are to experience anxiety or depression later.
As a Parent Educator and Coach, she finds fulfilment in equipping families with tools and solutions to enjoy their family journey.
When given any opportunity, she hopes to share with married couples and families that you don’t have to be a super being to be a hero. All it requires is love, commitment and a workable plan.