Monthly Archives: November 2015

What’s Wrong with W-Sitting?

By: Bridget Hobbs, PT, DPT

Many parents and teachers know that w-sitting is bad for a child’s development, but they might not know why.   So, I am going to shed some light on what w-sitting is, what proper sitting positions look like and how best to encourage little ones to sit with correct posture.   W-sitting is sitting with bottom on the floor, knees in front and legs splayed out to the side, making a “w” or “m” shape depending on which way you look at it.

When babies are learning to crawl and transition in and out of sitting, they often go into w-sitting momentarily, which is completely normal and fine.  However, when a child sits in this position for longer periods of time, that is when you need to take action and help them to learn to correct their sitting posture.

Some children sit in a W because it is comfortable for them.   Other children with low muscle tone or weak core strength w-sit because it gives them a wider base of support to help keep their sitting balance.  This W-sitting position makes is difficult for a child to reach across midline and rotate their trunk which can lead to coordination and writing problems down the road.   W-sitting can also have negative orthopedic ramifications.  W-sitting puts strain on the knees and hips and can cause pain and tightness to these joints and muscles as well as to the back.  It also can affect the child’s sitting posture as it makes it difficult to sit up straight which is important for developing strong trunk muscles.   Children who have hip dysplasia also have a higher risk of hip dislocation if they w-sit.

Benny_T

How to Help Your Child Correct W-Sitting

Correct sitting postures include: tailor sitting (cross-legged sitting), long sitting (sitting with legs straight in front of you), or side sitting (legs to one side).

Tailor Sitting                          Long Sitting                  Side-Sitting

To encourage your child to sit cross-legged, try verbal cues such as “criss-cross applesause.” “pretzel sit”or “fix your legs.” Some children respond well to a simple tactile cue, such as a gentle tap to their knees.  If your child needs more motivation, you can have them earn a sticker or a small treat for every time that you catch them sitting the correct way.

For pre-school and early grade school when children are often sitting on the floor, using cube chairs can be helpful for children that have a hard time sitting correctly.  An added bonus is that these types of chairs help kids who are fidgety or wanting to move around more likely to stay put for story-time.

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Cube Chairs

Proper sitting positions, such as tailor, long and side-sitting, help your child develop their core muscles by sitting up taller and enabling them to rotate across their body.  They also encourage proper weight shifting to allow a child to reach for toys outside of their base of support and also let a child use both hands at the same time on one side of the body.  If you are concerned about your child’s sitting posture, feel free to seek out a physical or occupational therapist at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley for ideas and feedback on how to help your child play in different positions.

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Fine Motor Fun

By: Laura Bueche, Occupational Therapist

You have probably heard about fine motor skills from your child’s teacher, occupational therapist, or child development book. But what exactly are fine motor skills? Why are they important to develop? What should my child be able to do at their age?

What are Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor tasks involve small movements of the hands and fingers and are necessary for performing many daily occupations.

Why Are Fine Motor Skills So Important?

Fine motor skills are essential to performing everyday tasks.

As your child grows and learns, fine motor skills are crucial in the education and participation in school. Your child will be learning concepts through using their fine motor skills to color, cut with scissors, and paint with a paintbrush. Later on, they will need more precise fine motor skills to write letters and numbers, operate a calculator, and type on a computer.

Play is also an area that requires fine motor skills, such as constructing legos, kenix, duplos, stringing beads, playing board games, manipulating play doh, and making crafts. 20150320_ES-LegoRoom-22.jpg

Self-care activities also require fine motor skills. Tying shoelaces, buttoning buttons, zipping up a jacket, and using a knife and fork to eat food, opening and closing containers, opening doors, all require fine motor control.

What Are Some Fine Motor Milestones?

The following list describes SOME activities that your child should be able to do at their developmental age level.

0-3 Months                  Can hold object involuntarily when placed in palm

2-4 months                  Swipes at objects independently

3-3.5 months               Clasps hands together often

3.5 – 4 months            Begins purposeful, visually directed reaching

3-7 months                  Can hold small object in hand

4-8 months                  Can transfer objects from one hand to another

4-10 months

  • Accurate forward and side reach
  • Rakes or scoops small objects to pick them up
  • Intentionally releases object

Age 1

  • Transfer items from one hand to another
  • Accurate forward and side reach
  • Able to grasp small object with finger tips of thumb, pointer, middle finger
  • Pokes and points with fingersNicholas_T

12- 18months

  • Hold crayon with whole hand
  • Emerging skill in picking up a small object with fingertips and moving it to the palm of the hand

Age 2

  • Take off socks
  • Take off shoes
  • Finger feeds self
  • Scoops with spoon or fork and brings it to mouth
  • Uses a fork and spoon well
  • Holds utensil with thumb and all fingers, thumb pointing down
  • Can draw and copy a vertical and horizontal line
  • Snips paper
  • Turns single pages of book
  • String large beads

Age 3

  • Fastens Velcro or elastic laced shoes
  • Completes simple puzzles (5-6 pieces)
  • Build a tower of 9 small blocks
  • Drink from cup with one hand
  • Holds pencil with 3 fingers (tripod grasp)
  • Copies circle, traces square
  • Draws person with head
  • Unbuttons small buttons

Age 4

  • Prepares tooth brush with toothpaste
  • Obtains soap from dispenser
  • Can cut straight, curved lines, and simple shapes
  • Draw and copy a cross, square
  • Folds paper in half
  • Dominant hand has better coordination (no longer switches)

Age 5

  • Puts on and zips up jacket
  • Uses a knife to spread, dull knife to cut
  • Laces shoes
  • Colors within lines
  • Cut out complex pictures
  • Draws a complete person

Age 6

  • Brushes hair
  • Brushes teeth well
  • Completes all dressing including fasteners and belt
  • Unlocks and opens doors
  • Can fasten a safety belt
  • Complex puzzles
  • Prints uppercase and lowercase

Age 8

  • Uses personal care devices such as contact lenses, glasses, hearing aids, and orthotics

Age 9

  • Folds laundry well
  • Uses small kitchen supplies for meal prep
  • Uses key to open door

How Can I Help my Child?

Besides the resources at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley, there are some great websites with ideas for home activities that work on fine motor skill development.

If you are concerned about your child’s fine motor development, an occupational therapy evaluation will be able to assess your child’s fine motor skills, and compare them with what is developmentally appropriate for their age. An occupational therapist can recommend ongoing therapy or a home program to help your child catch up to their peers.

 

Frank in therapy

Screen Time Recommendations for Kids

By: Jessica Drake-Simmons, M.S. CCC-SLP

Technology is an increasingly present and necessary tool in every aspect of our lives.  Yet, the use of screens has been discouraged for children, especially young children.  Until recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended avoiding screen time for children under the age of 2 and limiting screen time to less than 2 hours for children over the age of 2.  It is clear that these are unobtainable standards for many American families as the average child is spending seven hours a day in front of entertainment media.

The American Academy of Pediatrics established these strict guidelines due to research that has shown media can lead to difficulties with attention, school, sleep and obesity.  What is now being acknowledged are the many variables related to the quality of screen time a child is exposed to.  Screen time comes in three forms:

  • Consumption- passively watching a TV show

consumption

  • Creation- researching a topic, creating a presentation

creation

  • Communication- Facetime with Grandma, writing a text message

communication

Screen time for the purpose of creation and communication is typically a beneficial activity.  Screen time for the purpose of passive consumption is what needs to be more closely monitored, as it does not activate a young child’s brain the way that real interaction with another person does.  Children learn most efficiently from back and forth communication, interaction in the real world and hands on play.  However, the screen can be a platform to promote back and forth interaction between a caregiver and child.

Research is clear on what to AVOID:

  1. Background TV– leads to decreased parent-child interaction, poorer play and decreased executive functioning ability
  2. Fast paced screens– temporarily impairs young children’s executive functioning skills
  3. Media before bed– the effect of the neurologically stimulating screen can make it difficult for children to go to sleep

The American Academy of Pediatrics is changing their recommendations for screen time and the complete guidelines will be released in 2016 here.

Learn more about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley at EasterSealsDFVR.org.