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154 S. Livingston Ave, Suite 204   bullet   Livingston, NJ 07039   bullet   973. 535. 5010  

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Gross Motor Skills

gross motor skills A child uses gross motor skills to develop and explore their surroundings as babies and to engage not only in daily activities but in things we so often associate with childhood: jumping, balancing, riding a bike or playing ball.  But perhaps your child is content with being in one position, not interested in, or maybe having difficulties participating in, sports and outdoor play; they may tire easily or appear clumsy or awkward in approaching things like playground equipment, balls, and uneven surfaces; or they may just appear to have overall body awkwardness. In fact, your child may have been recommended for a physical therapy evaluation and treatment by your pediatrician, teacher or activity leader. Those professionals may feel that your child does not appear to be as skillful as same age peers in large movement activities, or may be avoiding these activities altogether.gross motor skills 2

Pediatric physical (and occupational) therapists have a unique understanding of how body scheme and internal body map can be out of sync. When this occurs, a child may have a problem with motor planning (dyspraxia). Your child, who may have normal motor strength and agility, may still have difficulty approaching new motor sequences.  For example, they may be able to kick a ball, but not be able to use that skill in a game.  Or, they may have the strength to ride a bike, but somehow cannot seem to make their body pedal the wheels.  Children with motor planning difficulties are reluctant to participant in sports programs, as they do not automatically understand how to initiate, duplicate and expand the skills necessary to participate in specific activities.

Pediatric Potentials physical therapists have a full understanding of developmentally appropriate gross motor skills, motor planning abilities and musculoskeletal/nervous system development.  In order to determine what is interfering with your child’s gross motor skills acquisition and what treatment your child might benefit from, Pediatric Potentials highly skilled therapists will evaluate your child using an age appropriate developmental approach.  Depending on your child’s age and development you may consider such an evaluation if you see you child:

  • Seems weaker than peers
  • Endurance fluctuates compared to peers
  • Has difficulty with hopping, skipping, running, etc. as compared to peers
  • Appears stiff and/or awkward / appears limp or floppy
  • Seems to be developing early milestones later than peers such as independent sitting, rolling and crawling
  • Seems to throw him/herself back or down to the ground constantly
  • Is clumsy, does not appear to know how to make his/her body work, bumps into others or objects
  • Does not have a sense of right, left, up, down, front, back, as directionality relates to him/her self
  • Avoids playground equipment or may not try new equipment
  • Has poor posture, often leaning into things
  • Has difficulty initiating movements
  • Has difficulty coordinating the two sides of the body to complete a task
  • Has unusual, unsteady walking, toe walking, drags feet
  • Trips and falls easily
  • Seems to know what he/she wants to do but cannot make his/her body “do it”
  • Has difficulty imitating a teacher or leader, or does not benefit from watching the other children or from group practices
  • Resists organized group activities
  • Watches while others play, possibly verbally prompting others but not participating.
  • Seems to forget motor activities that he/she previously was able to do
  • Went from sitting to walking with little or no crawling/belly time
  • Crept on stomach rather than hands and knees

If these “red flag” issues are getting in the way of your child’s enjoyment or progress in typical settings, we need to address them.



SN Pediatric Potentials, Inc.   bullet   154 S. Livingston Ave, Suite 204   bullet   Livingston, NJ 07039   bullet   973.535.5010   bullet   director@pediatricpotentialsnj.com


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