A few weeks ago, I was at a birthday party with my children. During the party for kids 5-10 years old, a game of dodge ball was played. As I watched the children play, I realized so many of these children were not able to throw and catch an average size ball. When the ball was thrown, it was not near the target, and when the kids tried to catch it, most of the time they missed or were hit in the face. As I observed this more, I realized these kids didn’t know how to move side to side, fell more than normally, and generally didn’t move well. One parent told me her 10-year-old couldn’t ride a bike yet.
Talking to the parents at the party, all of the parents were surprised that their typical developing children couldn’t do basic motor skills. Only 2 kids out of 35 could climb a rope, pull up on a gymnastics bar, and walk a balance beam. And every single parent said “I need to take my child outside more. We are putting up the screen.”
Now, I am not against screen time…within reason and of course, always for kids who use as communications devices. But, our kids need to move more. Children – disabled or not – need to be playing outside, climbing trees, throwing balls, kicking balls, and playing with their friends. This is how they develop strength and coordination. Rolling down hills, climbing playground equipment, jumping, running, falling and getting back up, swimming, and riding bikes all develop core muscle control which is essential to coordination. There have been many studies done on core control, coordination, and how children perform in school as well, and improving symptoms of ADHD.
So, this summer, take the kids outside. Ride a bike (wear a helmet), play catch, swim, climb a tree! And the next time your child plays dodge ball, they might just be on the winning team!
Missy Dafler, PT, DPT, C/NDT, CKTP,