How to Deal with a Clumsy Child

Clumsiness is not created equal. You have probably seen kids as well as adults who seem to be infected with a clumsiness gene. You may have even called them spaz or klutz, though I hope that if you used such words they were spoken as terms of endearment. If it sometimes seems that some kids or adults are clumsier than others, you are not mistaken. An adult deemed to be a klutz may be experiencing the result of an incomplete development of motor skills and locomotive functioning. Another reason may simply be age; we all tend to totter once we move past a certain age. And, as you might have suspected, certain medications and drugs have clumsiness as a side effect.

If your clumsy child is under three years old you must keep in mind that physical coordination develops slowly and this development is slower for some kids than others. Yes, in this age where standardized tests have many people who should know better actually believing that all minds develop equally and at the same rate, it is sometimes difficult to remember that coordination is not created equal. In addition, the competitive psyche of American society immediately has new parents comparing the development of their child to that of other children despite the fact that they too should know better. The fact is that the majority of children under three years of age are not anywhere near to obtaining full coordination. Precision in hand and leg movement is almost unheard of in a kid this young and while your three year old may not be as clumsy as she was when she was two, there is no reason to expect her to be as in control of motor skills as she will be when she’s five years old. Even if your best friend’s three year old seems to be able to pour a drink accurately into a bottle, there is no reason to get upset.

Believe it or not, but there does seem to be a genetic predisposition for clumsiness. If your kid is five or six or seven and seems clumsier than his friends, you should look back into your own history and that of your families to determine whether this might be the case. The single worst thing a parent can do with a clumsy seven year old is scold them. The reason? Being punished for clumsiness will induce anxiety about the situation and anxiety tends to aggravate clumsiness. The more attention you draw to a child’s lack of motor control, in other words, the more you may worsen the situation

For parents whose kids are being medicated for one reason or another, understand that drugs at an early age can very easily affect motor skills. Children taking drugs to control epilepsy, for instance, can almost be guaranteed to express clumsy behavior. This does not mean that a kid who is clumsy and on medication needs to be taken off the medication. You have to determine the worse of the conditions: clumsiness or whatever the medication is used to treat. Another cause of clumsiness is a nervous system disorder or a muscular condition. Both of these types of afflictions may be the reason why Antoine or Keyshiawna can’t play Jenga very well or is never going to be the star athlete you always dreamed of having.

Speaking of athletics, however, the clumsy child should take part. Athletics and sports may actually serve to reduce the clumsiness, especially those around three years of age. Baseball, tennis and other games with a ball help to improve eye/hand coordination. Running helps develop leg coordination. Dancing is also recommended for clumsy kids. It is better to do this in an informal setting rather than a dance class because other kids may initially pick on the clumsy dancers. There is also a very good reason why Fisher Price has always been successful with those toys where the kids bang pegs into a hole with mallet. That game is very fun, even when you’re the parent, but for kids it is an invaluable tool for developing coordination between the hand and the eye and even sets the stage of mastering more complex activities from needlepoint to woodworking.

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