Strategies & Advice

Everyday activities need your child to be able to make sense of the world around them and use their motor skills. This information is aimed at children who are having difficulties with these.

Tips for Children with Motor Coordination Difficulties

Everyday activities need your child to be able to make sense of the world around them and use their motor skills.  This information is aimed at children who are having difficulties with these.  It lists some of the ways these difficulties can present and gives tips and strategies for you to try.

How Motor Coordination Difficulties can affect your Child

  • It can be difficult learning motor tasks that most children learn automatically. Some children can have problems coming up with and remembering a correct plan of action. Other children may not have the adequate skills needed for that task e.g. a child may not have the strength to pull on their shoes.
  • Handwriting is a complex activity which combines many skills at once.
  • Some children may have difficulty with a number of daily life skills including dressing, toileting, feeding and organising belongings. They may also take longer to become independent with these skills.

 

 

  • One reason for difficulty with attention is due to poor sensory processing. The child has trouble tuning out the non-relevant stimuli (e.g. noise outside) and tuning in the relevant stimuli (e.g. the teacher’s voice). They need to put in a lot more effort than other children to achieve seemingly simple motor tasks. Due to this effort it can be more difficult to keep up this level of concentration throughout the day.
  • Difficulties with learning a new task, handwriting, self-care and poor attention can affect confidence and motivation to try new things such as joining in with friends or groups.
  • Difficulties with learning a new task, handwriting, self-care and poor attention can cause behaviour issues in class and at home often due to frustration and motivation.
  • Performance in any task may vary from day to day and even from hour to hour.

 

How Motor Coordination Difficulties can affect your Child

  • It can be difficult learning motor tasks that most children learn automatically. Some children can have problems coming up with and remembering a correct plan of action. Other children may not have the adequate skills needed for that task e.g. a child may not have the strength to pull on their shoes.
  • Handwriting is a complex activity which combines many skills at once.
  • Some children may have difficulty with a number of daily life skills including dressing, toileting, feeding and organising belongings. They may also take longer to become independent with these skills.
  • One reason for difficulty with attention is due to poor sensory processing. The child has trouble tuning out the non-relevant stimuli (e.g. noise outside) and tuning in the relevant stimuli (e.g. the teacher’s voice). They need to put in a lot more effort than other children to achieve seemingly simple motor tasks. Due to this effort it can be more difficult to keep up this level of concentration throughout the day.
  • Difficulties with learning a new task, handwriting, self-care and poor attention can affect confidence and motivation to try new things such as joining in with friends or groups.
  • Difficulties with learning a new task, handwriting, self-care and poor attention can cause behaviour issues in class and at home often due to frustration and motivation.
  • Performance in any task may vary from day to day and even from hour to hour.

Strategies To Help Your Child Learn New Motor Tasks

  • When teaching a task, try to practice it in the same place with the same materials each time.
  • You may need to repeat the task for several days or even weeks. With each repetition, remain consistent.
  • Give clear and short instructions. Use one command at a time. Do not overload the child with lots of verbal instructions, as they will become confused. Demonstrate visually where possible.
  • If a child is not ready or willing to learn a skill it will be much harder to teach. Teach one step at a time making sure the child has some success no matter how small.
  • Encourage your child to do as much as they can without expecting too much. Involve them in each task, even if you are doing it for them.

 

Helping your Child with Dressing

Why is Dressing Difficult for my Child?

  • Poor Balance - e.g. standing on one leg to put on trousers.
  • Fine Motor Difficulties - e.g. using hands to do up buttons and zips.
  • Poor Motor Planning - e.g. knowing the order of clothes to put on.
  • Poor Body Awareness - e.g. sensing that your foot feels ok in the shoe.

If possible dress in the same place every day. Minimise distractions.

When? Teach at a time when you are not rushing e.g. on the weekend or after school.

Arrange clothes in order the night before. Use pictures to help with the sequence.

  • Make it fun: Practice with dolls or play dress-ups.
  • Be consistent e.g. teaching in the same order.
  • Balance the amount of help you give and the amount you let your child do.

Helping Your Child With Fastenings

  • Use Velcro instead of buttons.
  • Try putting bands or rings onto the zips to help with pulling it up.
  • Sew elastic onto the back of buttons to help with the sleeve and top buttons.
  • Start with bottom button first.

 

Helping Your Child With Clothing

  • Test the clothing before you buy it.
  • Use socks made from stretchy fabric.
  • Buy jumpers and t-shirts with large head openings.
  • Choose t-shirts and underpants with a motif on the front to help with recognising the front and back.

Why is Toileting Difficult for my Child?

  • Often children will not tune into the signal to go to the toilet or can suffer from constipation.
  • Poor body awareness, e.g. not being able to locate the correct part of their bottom to wipe without looking.
  • Poor fine motor skills, e.g. difficulty with fastenings on clothing.

Helping your Child with Toileting

  • Ensure the child wears clothing that is easy to put on and take off.
  • Place wet wipes next to the toilet to help with wiping.
  • Place a mirror next to the toilet so the child can check their appearance before leaving.

 

 

Sports and Physical Fitness

Why are Sports Difficult for my Child?

  • A variety of gross motor skills are required to be efficient at sports.
  • Children with poor motor planning need extra time to plan their movements.  During team sports they do not have enough time to plan their movements.
  • Weak hand and finger muscles make if difficult to hold onto a bat or catch a ball.
  • Poor eye-hand co-ordination makes it difficult to catch or hit a ball.
  • Poor Eye tracking makes it difficult to move both eyes together to keep track of a moving ball.

Helping your Child with Sports:

  • Give your child plenty of time to practice a skill before they start a particular sport.
  • Practice ball skills with slow moving balls such as balloons, foam balls, bubbles.
  • Use large bats and balls to start with, e.g. inflatable toys.
  • Use verbal cues to aid with timing e.g. “1,2,3 catch!”
  • Encourage your child to talk about their performance e.g. whether they throw the ball too hard, too soft etc.
  • Always reward effort!

Sports and Hobbies

It is important to encourage your child to lead an active lifestyle and one, which they can enjoy. Therefore less competitive sports/hobbies may be the preferred option.

Below are some suggestions for activities, bear in mind that some may not suit all children:

  • Swimming.
  • Scouts.
  • Horse riding.
  • Drama classes.
  • Gymnastics or trampolining.
  • Games in the garden with hoops and balls.
  • Learning to play a musical instrument.
  • Arts and crafts.