How parents can support balance in kids
The excitement of an infant sitting up or crawling for the first time. The wonder of when a toddler takes a few new steps or whirls around on a tricycle. The awe of a child practicing cartwheels and riding a two-wheel bike.
Not only are these momentous occasions ones of emotional amazement for parents, but they are also healthy balance, motor skill, and brain developmental milestones for little ones!
A child’s sense of balance can easily be nurtured in all stages of development. Understanding the importance of this growth aspect along with utilizing a variety of ways to encourage advancement can support both physical and mental health.
Why is balance development important for kids?
Balance can naturally develop in children. One stage leads to another, each building upon the prior to expand the body’s ability.
For example, healthy balance developmental stages for an infant are:
– laying on the belly
All of these vital stages contribute to an overall sense of balance and if one stage is skipped, it can have future implications such as difficulties with certain physical movements and/or less confidence in social play.
In addition, there are two specific types of balance:
- static balance – keeping the body steady while staying still (such as standing on one leg)
- dynamic balance – the ability to run, jump, play, and engage in movement
When these types of balance properly mature, the results can include significant health benefits such as:
– a sense of personal body awareness and body space
– a boost in motor skills
– brain development, particularly the formation of neural pathways
– confident social interaction
– sport participation/enjoyable movement
– prevention of injury
which means safely walking across that fallen log during a hike or trying out the balance beam at the park can reap a wide variety of advantages!
How to support balance development in kids
While many children may naturally develop a sense of balance, today’s world can unconsciously promote a sedentary lifestyle and an overabundance of screen time – both of which can impede this well-needed growth.
To encourage balance, motor skills, brain health, and confident socialization in kids, try:
– belly time for infants
– a scoot bike (bicycle without pedals) for toddlers
– wobble boards and balance games for school-aged kids
And keep in mind that balance is well…something to balance.
A desire to protect a child and avoid injury is a major component to parenting, however, allowing safe, explorative activity can help a child discover their abilities as well as learn natural and normal consequences. Adult supervision along with safety tools such as helmets and protective gear can encourage growth with mindful attentiveness.
Balance is important in all stages of life. Whether for development for those starting out or for prevention in older years, balance activities can support overall wellbeing for an entire lifetime.