Expert Articles

Toddlers Cross-Motor Development

Author: By Principal Ng SAU MAN
Sun Island English Kindergarten (Sai Kung Branch)

Physical activity development is crucial for individuals. If we want toddlers to develop in a healthy and well-rounded manner, we cannot neglect training both their large and small muscles. The initial three stages of physical development in toddlers are as follows:

  • Infants aged 0-1 are in the reflex action stage, where their movements are controlled by the brainstem and spinal cord, later transitioning to control from the cerebral cortex.
  • Toddlers aged 1-2 are in the initial action stage, where they can begin to control their movements. However, when a toddler wants to touch an object, they may still swing their entire hand and body.
  • Toddlers aged 2 and beyond are in the fundamental action stage, where they start to master the movements of their major muscles.

Therefore, the period from zero to six years old is a golden development period. Let’s first talk about the large muscles, which can be divided into two categories: movements such as sitting, crawling, walking, running, and going up and down stairs, and actions such as pushing, grasping, pulling, throwing, hitting, kicking, catching, and clapping.

In reality, each toddler is unique, and their development may vary. However, if parents notice delays in a toddler’s development compared to their peers, such as difficulties with balance, lack of agility when walking, frequent collisions with objects, clumsiness, easy fatigue or lack of energy, avoidance of physical activities and games, difficulties with self-care skills, lack of focus, or wrist bending during writing or coloring, there may be a possibility of developmental obstacles in their large muscle development that need to be addressed early on.

Currently, Hong Kong has many dual-working parents who are busy with their jobs, and some rely on domestic helpers to take care of their toddlers, which limits their opportunities for exercise. Therefore, parents can first understand the progress of their child’s development and collaborate on their training, encouraging repetition.

Here are some suggested activities to enhance large muscle skills:

Core muscle exercises:
  • Encourage toddlers to maintain a four-point kneeling position during certain games to strengthen the muscles around their spine, abdominal core muscles, and body balance.
Balance activities:
  • Walk with toes or heels to improve toddlers’ balance.

Engage in games and activities to enhance sensory input recognition and organization, such as touch, body posture, kinaesthetic sense, visual perception, and auditory skills.

  • Obstacle races: Place basic objects at home and instruct toddlers to avoid them.
  • Crawling up stairs or crawling down slopes.
Walking and running:
  • Walking on stepping stones or stairs.
Jumping and single-leg hopping:
  • Engage in activities that involve continuous jumping and hopping on one leg.
Ball games:
  • Use rackets to hit balls or play with balloons.
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Toddlers Cross-Motor Development