When it comes to children’s development, fine motor skills are extremely important. It helps them to complete the most basic everyday tasks, such as picking up items and writing. If your child experiences any issues with these activities, they might have problems with fine motor development. It’s always important to identify these issues earlier rather than later.

What Are Fine Motor Skills?

There is a difference between fine motor skills and gross motor skills – fine motor skills relate to all the smaller movements made by smaller muscle groups in your child’s hands, wrists and fingers, whereas gross motor skills refer to larger movements that use larger muscle groups such as the the arms and legs. Both of these sets of skills are important in your child’s development, but fine motor skills are especially crucial as it allows them to perform detailed tasks with greater precision and confidence and this contributes to them being able to perform self-care tasks on their own.

Problems with Fine Motor Skills

Problems with fine motor skills can affect around 10% of school-aged children. Although children develop at different rates, you should consider seeing consulting an Educational Psychologist if your child is showing signs of struggle when it comes to fine motor skills. This can include:

• Being unable to tie their own shoes

• Dropping items often

• Having difficulty holding a toothbrush or spoon

• Finding it difficult to colour, write or use scissors

Helping Your Child Develop

It is always recommended to consult your paediatrician or a professional such as a child psychologist to assess your child if you suspect that he or she may be struggling with fine motor development. However, there are a few things you can do to help your child improve their fine motor skills, such as encouraging them to:

• Letting them hold their knives, forks and spoons when they eat

• Wiping the table with a sponge

• Helping to set the table

• Pouring their own juice into a cup

• Getting dressed on their own

• Opening and closing containers with lids

• Putting together puzzles

• Finger painting

• Playing board games

• Building with small blocks

These are just some of the everyday things that to you can have your child do on their own to help them develop their fine motor skills. These skills are extremely important, and if you are unsure whether your child is developing correctly, it’s always best to see a professional.

For more information about the development of fine motor skills or to book a consultation, contact Anel at anel@childpsych.co.za.