Child Development 101: What Parents Should Know About Fine Motor Skills

A crucial part of early childhood development is developing gross and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills are movements involving the large muscles in the legs and arms, and it’s these muscles that enable babies to turn over, sit up, walk and crawl.

Fine motor skills, on the other hand, are movements involving the small muscles in your kid’s wrists, fingers, and hands. Both forms of these motor skills allow kids to live more independently. However, fine motor skills are particularly vital since the skill to utilize small hand muscles enables kids to conduct self-care activities without help.

These activities include eating, tooth brushing, getting dressed and writing.

Development of Fine Motor Skills

Your kid will develop fine motor skills naturally as he gains the skills to coordinate and control their muscles. Remember, however, that some kids may develop these skills earlier than others, which is perfectly normal.

So don’t be overly concerned if your kid is not acquiring these skills as quickly as other kids the same age as his. If your kid is already going to a preschool here in Salt Lake City, you should regularly meet with his teachers to check up on his development to allay your fears.

Vital Fine Motor Skills

Kids doing homework and writing

The following are the most crucial fine motor skills your kid needs to develop:

  • Wrist stability is typically developed during the early years and enables kids to move their tiny fingers with control and strength.
  • Palmar arches enable your kid’s palms to move inward. They help in coordinating finger movements required for gripping, writing, and navigating buttons. 
  • The skill side of hands includes the index finger, thumb, and middle fingers used to grasp things with precision.
  • Bilateral hand skills enable the use of both hands simultaneously.
  • Development of intrinsic hand muscles cover the ability to conduct small hand movements wherein the tips of the middle finger, index finger, and thumb touch.
  • Scissor skills are usually developed at around age four and are essential for hand-eye coordination and strength.

Potential Problems with the Development of Fine Motor Skills

While fine motor skills typically develop at varying rates, it’s best to consult your pediatrician if you believe he struggles with gross and fine motor skills. This is because delays could indicate a developmental disorder.

Kid playing in the grass

Common warning signs of issues with delayed fine motor skills development include difficulty holding a toothbrush or spoon and fork. Also, dropping things, inability to tie shoelaces and struggle using scissors, coloring and writing are also associated symptoms.

It’s also crucial to note that certain delays in fine motor skills are not identified until a kid is much older. But early diagnosis could help make certain that your kid gets the help they require for building these important skills and ultimately help them thrive as they grow.

Your kid might be diagnosed with a disorder if his:

  • Fine motor skills fall below the usual expectation for his age.
  • His motor skills development delays began at a younger age.
  • His fine motor skills make it very hard for him to perform daily tasks at home and in school.

Fortunately, with early diagnosis, sessions with an OT or occupational therapist, and follow-up activities at home, you could help your kid master his fine motor skills in time.