How Do Motor Skills Relate to Development?
November 6, 2017
Honestly, we could answer the headline of this article with one sentence: “Every single way in which you could possibly think.” But don’t worry… we’ll go into some detail.
First, what are motor skills?
The appropriate definition is “motions carried out when the brain, nervous system and muscles work together,” according to Baby Center. Then we’ve got fine motor skills v. gross motor skills. Fine motor skills are your smaller movements (e.g. holding utensils). Gross motor skills, on the other hand, are those bigger movements, such as rolling over or sitting.
So, back to the question at hand: how do all these types of motor skills affect our development over time? Well, like most things in life – say, our eating and drinking habits, for example – motor skills are developed as a youngster. What we learn as a child is often what we bring with us into adolescence and eventual adulthood. Motor skills are no different. Sure, things can be learned at a later age, but anything taught to us as a younger person often sticks with us more easily throughout life.
How does it affect development?
It’s an important question, one which many parents face every single day. Also, it’s frustrating reading blog after blog about when your baby is supposed to be developing such motor skills. If they are, great! But the harsh reality is that this isn’t the case for some people.
According to a report from Parenting.com, it can often depend on the child. While many kids “should be able to smile, roll over, and reach for an object at five months,” this might not always be the case. Same goes for sitting without support. Generally, children are able to do this by eight months, but some parents can experience delays.
And the reason for those said delays: temperament, natural strengths, siblings, body size and being born early.
Ensuring your baby is on the “right” track.
It’s simple: nurture… but not too much. Be sure to be there for them, letting them know it’s okay if their motor skills are developing a little later than usual. But at the same time, don’t dissuade them from trying. As noted in the very same Parenting.com article, make them work for it. The best way to do this? Play with your little one!
From Parenting.com: “When you play together, put a few of his favorite items just out of reach so he’s tempted to crawl, stand up, or point to try to get them. For younger babies, tummy time is especially important, so he can build muscles in his arms, legs, and neck.” We recommend hands-on activities (so put that Ipad away and turn off the TV!). When your little one has the opportunity to pick things up and move them, like building blocks, you may see more development. Let them get a little messy, too– unfold that arts-and-crafts table cloth and let them finger paint, knead Play-Doh, squeeze sponges, or even just color with crayons. All of these activities work your baby’s fine motor skills.
Everything we do with our little ones at these critical ages affects the way they’ll grow up. So, in the end, motor skills have a LOT to do with how we develop throughout life. Between nap time and teaching healthy eating habits, remember to spend plenty of time playing! As a parent, it’s important to pay attention. But also, as always, enjoy it!