Natural Movement is Essential for Children’s development

Encouraging Exploration: Letting Children Play Freely

As parents, it can be challenging to let children play freely and watch them from a distance. We often worry: What if they get hurt? What if they fall? However, if you give your child the trust and freedom they need to explore their environment and understand their own bodies, they will recognize their own strenghts and limitations better.

Natural Movement is Essential for Children

Freedom of movement is incredibly important for a child’s development, starting from just a few months old. A baby wants to roll over onto their stomach, push up on all fours, and crawl around. These activities help develop not only their muscles and coordination but also their cognitive abilities.

Children are naturally persistent when learning physical skills like crawling, climbing, or walking. Even after many failed attempts, a child will keep trying until they can walk independently or balance on a swing. This perseverance is a natural part of basic motor development. It’s important for parents not to hinder their child to much out of fear of injury, but to support their learning process. By doing so, you not only help prevent serious injuries but also boost their self-esteem by acknowledging and valuing their progress.

For instance, stimulating a baby to crawl forward or turn over in a lying position with their favorite toy until they succeed boosts their self-confidence. Honest praise from you can lead to significant joy and affirmation.

Crawling – An Essential Milestone?

Crawling is an important milestone in your child’s development. For many parents, it signifies a step towards independence. Through crawling, babies practice cross-coordination, moving one arm and the opposite leg simultaneously. This coordination involves communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which is crucial for later skills like reading and writing.

For a long time, it was believed that children who skipped crawling would have difficulties in school. However, this theory has been debunked. Long-term studies have shown that approximately 13% of children skip the crawling stage without any adverse effects on their later development.

And I can add here, that my son also skipped crawling, as he started right away walking, when he was only like 8 month old… and nowadays being 14 years old in 2024, he has a good posture, strong back muscles and good grades in school :-).

Home Activities for Motor Skill Development

Especially when there is no garden available or the weather is unsuitable for extended periods, there are alternatives to promote children’s motor and cognitive development. While babies who are just starting to crawl are fully occupied exploring their home, older children need bigger challenges.

It is especially important today to give children the opportunity to build strength in their upper body, shoulders, and arms. Upper body strength is becoming increasingly rare, due to increasing screentime. You can achieve this in a child’s room with a sturdy hook on the ceiling for hanging various “toys” like a rope for climbing or athletic rings that children can use simply because they are available, so they would just start to play around with them occasionally. Bunk beds with climbing or rung walls are also great. Children rarely need to be encouraged to use these training opportunities.

Building forts / caves is also a natural inclination for children. If not prohibited, they will move and rearrange everything they can to create fantastic hideaways from pillows, chairs, and even mattresses pulled off the bed. This activity fosters their three-dimensional thinking and planning skills, but also their physical abilities.

From Active Toddlers to Overweight Schoolchildren

Often, parents have little time for trips to the playground and may unconsciously encourage their children to remain quiet and still. Promoting a child’s natural need for movement is crucial not only for their personal development and posture but also for their health. Children who do not move enough often become overweight, leading to general dissatisfaction, low self-confidence, and even cardiovascular diseases.

Experimenting with their bodies is essential for children to understand their limits and avoid uncontrolled hyperactivity. Children should learn to control their bodies while moving and use their abilities responsibly toward themselves and others.

While toddlers in daycare are naturally very active, many school-age children become more sedentary and gain weight. This trend is partly due to many primary and secondary schools not prioritizing adequate physical activity during the school day. Weekly gym classes are often insufficient or even skipped, if there is something more important going on – like to prepare for a math or language test.

Therefore, it is especially important for parents to actively create a balance. Enroll your child in sports clubs, take them to the playground as often as possible, and set a good example by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking or cycling to run errands instead of driving. Your child will model their behavior after yours.

By doing so, you not only meet your child’s natural need for movement but also improve your own fitness, health, and overall well-being.