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Shoulder stability and fine motor skills

Having shoulder stability means that you can tense the muscles around your shoulder to make sure you can use the joint. If you have good shoulder stability, you’ll be able to easily coordinate moving your arms in a smooth way.

If your child has poor should stability, you’ll notice that they have:

  • Poor handwriting
  • Poor scissor skills
  • Difficulties with dressing and undressing
  • Difficulties manipulating tools and objects, including a knife and fork
  • Difficulties with ball games
  • Difficulties with washing and drying themselves

There are a number of techniques that can help your child improve their shoulder stability, including:

  • Encouraging them to lie on their tummy with their head propped up on their hands and elbows resting on the floor to read or watch TV
  • Kneeling on their hands and knees while they’re drawing or doing puzzles
  • Painting or drawing on a vertical surface, e.g. an easel that starts just below elbow height and ends just above their reach
  • Lifting heavy objects, e.g. pouring water from one container into another or lifting a toy box. Make sure that they bend at their knees and avoid hurting their back when lifting
  • Doing push ups, making sure that they’re bending at the elbow and keeping their body straight. If they struggle with this, get them to go down to their knees instead of their feet
  • Crawling through tunnels, around obstacle courses and over cushions. Try getting them to do a commando crawl and complete the same activity without taking their stomach off the floor
  • Kneeling down and balancing both hands on a ball which they need to move as far away as they can without losing balance. Once they’ve done this, ask them to bring it back to them without taking their hands off
  • Playing certain games and sports, e.g. darts, basketball, volleyball and swimming
  • Using playground equipment, e.g. monkey bars and climbing frames
  • Playing tug of war while standing, lying on their stomach or kneeling down
  • Using a kaleidoscope, but looking up towards the sky
  • Digging in the garden
  • Throwing large balls over-arm

If you’ve tried all of these techniques and you’re still not seeing any improvement after four months, please do speak to a teacher or health professional for advice.