By: Melissa Petcu
Moms, raise your hand if you’ve uttered these words. Dare I guess most of you are referring to your son?
I’ve been here, I get it. What I remind parents, including myself, are these few things:
- Everyone avoids things that are difficult. Everyone. It is likely that your child doesn’t like to sit still for long enough periods to color, cut, or draw. There is also a chance that your child’s hand development hasn’t matured yet, meaning that they don’t like to use their pincher fingers to hold the marker/ crayon, or operate the scissors.
- Motivation is key. Change the material. Change the activity. Bathtub crayons or paints are a favorite at my house. Just imagine your child saying, “What did you say mom? I can color on the wall?” when you hand them the paint or crayons in the tub. Washing the pictures away at the end of bath time is a great hand and arm exercise, while drawing on a vertical surface puts their wrist in optimum writing position. Cutting Styrofoam cups, magazines, junk mail, or tissue paper is SO much more fun that cutting paper. Also, pinching with tweezers uses the same muscles and hand movements as cutting with scissors.
- Quality over quantity. Drawing 2 shapes with a good grasp on a crayon is beneficial. Cutting for 2 minutes is beneficial. Making an activity fun by allowing movement breaks- rolling to get the crayons, or cutting only when music is on and stopping when the music pauses is fun! This creates quality time, makes a positive experience with a task that your child may not otherwise enjoy.
Try not to stress over the push back of practicing these important fine motor skills. When you provide these fun opportunities, the skills will come. Chat with a pediatric occupational therapist if concerns continue- they may be able to offer some new ideas, or spot an underlying cause for the challenge.