Development of Motor Skills

After birth, a human's body begins to develop a more mature nervous system. With this more complicated nervous system come more complicated actions. The development of motor skills causes much grief among mothers. Many mothers will worry if their child is not sitting up or walking when his peers are; however, children in general, unless they have been abused or have some kind of inhibiting disability, tend to develop at nearly the same rate as far as motor skills are concerned.

There are two different kinds of motor skills: fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Fine (or small) motor skills use small muscles such as the eyes and the fingers, and also use more than one part of the body at the same time. Gross (or large) motor skills involve, obviously, the larger muscles like the arms and legs, and also include balance and coordination.

Developing at Different Rates

It is important to understand that a child's brain develops in sections, and that development of different capabilities may happen at different rates. If a child is speaking and reacting to speech better than his peers but still lacks the motor development of his peers, there is no problem with the child in question. Children develop motor skills later on, so a child could be talking quite effectively and not yet walking.

Children in different cultures tend to develop at slightly different rates as well. For example, 90 percent of babies in the United States will walk by the age of fifteen months, but most babies will be able to walk by the age of ten months in Uganda. But even blind children will begin to walk at nearly the same time as their peers in their culture because of the maturation process.

A human being is born with the ability to suck, swallow, spit up, eliminate, and breathe, but other functions develop as the baby's nervous system further develops. The human body matures from the top to the bottom. First an infant will move her head, neck, and shoulders, then her arms and trunk, and eventually her legs. An infant should be able to turn her head at two weeks, sit on her own at eight to nine months, and skip by age five — but as mentioned earlier, that is just a generalized outline of development.

Don't try to force your child to develop skills before he is ready. Biologically speaking, the cerebellum develops very rapidly at this time, giving children the ability to learn to walk at nearly the same age. Genes also affect the maturation process of children's motor skills, causing slight differences in timing, but on the whole these differences usually even out within a short period of time.

Increasing Development of Motor Skills

Some doctors suggest things, which most people take for granted as just being part of child's play, to increase the development of motor skills. For example, playing with stackable toys, turning pages in books, and scribbling all help to develop a child's motor skills. Preschoolers who cut paper with scissors, finger-paint, and play with Play-Doh are helping along their motor skill development. These activities will eventually develop into tying shoes, buttoning clothes, and later on to playing tag and skipping.

  1. Home
  2. Psychology
  3. Human Development — Conception, Infancy, and Childhood
  4. Development of Motor Skills
Visit other About.com sites: