11 activities to support your child’s mental development

As important as it is for your child to grow strong physically, so is it for them mentally. An important step in your child’s growth is known as crossing the midline.

So, what’s crossing the midline you ask? Well, to put it simply, it’s your child’s ability to reach across the middle of their body using their arms and legs. Why is this important? Because it stimulates both sides of your child’s brain and is foundational to their bilateral coordination and hand dominance.

Children who can cross the midline will be able to perform tasks on the opposite side of their body such as:

  • drawing a horizontal line across a page without having to switch hands in the middle
  • sitting cross bridged on the floor
  • inserting puzzle pieces using the dominant right hand when the puzzle is placed on the left-hand side of their body.

If you’re concerned that your child isn’t crossing the midline yet, but aren’t 100% sure, there are some simple signs you can look out for. These include:

  • using both hands to draw a horizontal line across a picture
  • finding dressing and feeding challenging
  • using one hand for one side of the body
  • positioning things on a table or floor in a way that doesn’t require midline crossing
  • having difficulty riding a bike or using a trampoline

This may sound a little worrying at first but have no fear, there are many ways to help stimulate your child’s brain and get them over that line so to speak. Some of these you can even do together!

11 activities you can do with your child:

  1. throw a frizbee
  2. play tug of war
  3. use a hula hoop
  4. threading or beading
  5. playing twister
  6. walk your pet
  7. try some yoga poses
  8. play an instrument (drums or bongos)
  9. play some bat and ball games (tennis, baseball, cricket)
  10. push toys or trucks along a figure 8 track
  11. tap a balloon.

All these activities are excellent ways to incorporate both visual tracking and crossing of the midline. The best thing is, they can all be done at home or in your local park! Not only will they support your child’s mental development, they’re also pretty fun.

If you feel you need more help with your child, we’d love you to have a chat with your Occupational Therapist here at OTFC. This is a great at providing reassurance if you’re at all concerned.

Our occupational therapists can work with your child to help develop:

  • hand dominance
  • overall coordination skills to support success in gross motor activities (bike riding, trampolines)
  • visual motor and visual tracking skills (writing, drawing, building blocks)
  • isolating different muscle groups (refrain your child from twisting their whole body to reach for something.

If you’d like to speak to one of our occupational therapists, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us for an appointment or assessment. While you’re here, have a look around our website as well.

We’re now based across three locations Adelaide CBD, Mile End and Parkside.

OTFC Group – We’re Influencing Lives. Creating Possibilities. Making a Difference

OTFC is a South Australian clinic-based service that is centrally located and services children and adolescents from birth through to 21 years of age both locally and nationally. Dedicated to providing a client focused approach where children and families feel validated in their concerns, supported in difficult times, encouraged to be proactive and inspired to facilitate change.

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