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OT Articles >> Fine Motor Control in Children

Fine Motor Control in Children

Fine motor skills are important to a child’s development. Not having these skills can interfere with school and home activities. It is important to understand the difference between fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills are those skills that require smaller, more delicate movement; usually using the smaller motion with an emphasis on the coordination of those movements. Gross motor skills are those skills using the larger muscles in the body, those to run, jump and move about.

Concerns with a child’s fine motor skills can be treated by a therapist with a strong focus in the area of pediatric occupational therapy. A child with fine motor problems may become easily frustrated in school when having to copy things from the blackboard or in art class because he or she may have problems either writing neatly, staying within the lines when coloring or cutting out shapes.

A child’s motor planning and speed of movement can be greatly affected in cases of fine motor control development. Motor planning involves the visual detection of motion and errors in movements. For a child’s movement to be effective things must be timed adequately and fine motor skills require a certain amount of attention and concentration as well.

What is more important is the order in which certain movement is made to accomplish a task. Managing complex activity using the smaller muscle groups may be compromised when dealing with fine motor skill problems. School age children face more fine motor skill problems than most other age groups, making pediatric occupational therapy a very important step in the treatment of this problem.

Children with fine motor skill problems may present other behaviors as well. At times a child may have underlying issues that could be associated with fine motor skill problems. They may actually present problems with articulation of words and sounds due to the fact that fine motor control has to do with tongue movement as well; being the tongue is a smaller muscle. Fine motor control struggles can be due to sensory problems in the brain; the child may have an aversion to being touched and being introduced to new things. In these cases the child’s ability to behave and control their fine motor skills may be hampered by the over stimulation of the senses, causing frustration and clumsiness.

Children experiencing fine motor skill problems may present the following issues:

  • - Clumsy pencil grasp (pincer grasp activities)
  • - Poor scissor skills (activities with scissors)
  • - Not able to grasp and release things in a controlled manner
  • - Cannot hold small objects or use tools such as pencils and scissors
  • - Dislikes completing mazes and dot to dots due to being easily frustrated with them
  • - Has problems copying from the blackboard in class


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