How to Help Your Child Develop Fine Motor Skills

There are few things as precious as watching a young child grow. Those first wobbly baby steps, the first boisterous belly laugh, and the sweet sound of a first word—these experiences are priceless. As a parent, you know how important the first few years are for a child’s growth and development. Putting an emphasis on fine motor skills is one crucial aspect that can help a child strengthen hand muscles, allowing him or her to learn how to independently complete everyday tasks, like buttoning a coat, tying shoelaces, or writing with a pencil. At the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas, we promote hand health for people of all ages, from one to ninety-nine. Check out some of the best activities we’ve found for encouraging the development of fine motor skills in your children.

Finger Aerobics Activities

The OT Toolbox is a great resource for learning techniques to help children develop fine motor skills. Finger aerobics are a valuable tool in helping children learn how to manipulate their hands. With your child, try a few of the following exercises daily.

  • Fingertip touch: Have your child touch their thumbs to each of their fingertips (the left thumb should touch the left fingertips and vice versa). Next, have them touch the base of each finger with their thumbs. Mix things up by having them repeat the exercise faster or slower.
  • Fist squeeze: Have your child make a fist with their hands. Show them different thumb positions (over the knuckles, tucked into the fingers, etc.) and have them squeeze as hard as can. Then, teach your child how to stretch out their fingers after completing this exercise.
  • Finger pick-ups: Have your child place their hand flat on a table or desk. Then, have them raise one finger at a time while keeping the palm, thumb, and other fingers flat against the surface. Repeat with each finger several times.

Pincer Grasp Activities

Fun Learning Ideas has a helpful article about various activities to help children learn how to use their thumbs and index fingers to grab or pinch objects. We’ve picked out a few of the activities to feature, but all of the ones listed in the article are great for teaching children how to pick up and manipulate objects.

  • Play with beads: Have your child take several small objects like Cheerios or beads and thread each onto a pipe cleaner. (Note: If this activity is done with very young children, don’t use beads as they can pose a choking threat.)
  • Play with clay: Have your child manipulate, squeeze, pinch, and mold playdough or clay. To step it up a difficulty level, have the child use tweezers or tongs to pinch the dough.
  • Play with games: This activity is one your child will love. Puzzles, mazes, and blocks all promote the development of fine motor skills—plus, your child will have a blast while strengthening their hands!

Fine motor skills are important for all areas of life—academics (coloring, writing, using scissors), play (dressing up dolls, using a computer mouse, building with legos), and self-care (brushing teeth, using the bathroom, and zipping up a jacket). If your child is struggling with their fine motor skills because of hand pain or an injury, schedule an appointment today. Your child’s hand health is our top priority!

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