Gross Motor Delay in Children

Gross Motor Delay in Children

A child’s development, like most things, is a spectrum whereby children will acquire skills at different times.  Not all children will acquire the same skill at the same time; however we have basic ideas of when the vast majority of children are able to achieve certain skills. So how do you know if your child is delayed or just taking their time?

We have expectations of when a child should be able to perform certain skills, e.g. jumping, hopping, or skipping. Just because a child hasn’t learnt to skip between 4 to 5 years of age doesn’t mean that child is delayed.  They may not have had exposure to a movement or skill and will thus require some time to develop that skill. If they are taking a long time (more than what you would expect for a new skill), there might be a problem with coordination, strength, motor planning or other aspects of movement.  It would be a good idea at this time to ask a few questions:

  • Can they keep up with their peers?
  • Do they enjoy doing physical activity? (Many kids who struggle don’t like to participate)
  • Do they fatigue more than their peers?
  • Are they what you would consider an ‘uncoordinated’ child?

A new skill will take time to become proficient at and as children get older, it is expected that they are able to perform more complex and challenging tasks. If you suspect your child is delayed, struggling to pick up new skills or uncoordinated, there may be underlying reasons such as low muscle tone, hypermobility, or coordination issues.  A small delay as a young child can increase to a large delay as they get older due to the complexity of movements required in activities and sports.  It is important to get your child assessed if you suspect your child is delayed in their gross motor skills. Have a look at simple tasks that are age-appropriate and do a quick screen to see if your child is age-appropriate. 

For more information about age appropriate milestones please see our Gross Motor Skills milestones page.