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Natalie Clauss

Aspects of child development - movement

In the last article on child development via the senses, it already became clear that it also takes place in interaction with motor development, i.e. movement development. Therefore, I would now like to go into this area.

Like other areas of development, motor development already begins in the mother's womb. It begins with movements of the entire body, which the growing child can still hardly control. The further the pregnancy progresses, the more complex these movement patterns become. The unborn child can now, for example, bring its thumb to its mouth to suck on it. Due to the tightness in the last weeks of pregnancy, every movement requires enormous muscle activity, so that the muscles are strengthened.

In the newborn, movements of the entire body are initially also mainly recognizable, which still seem little coordinated and harmonized with each other. How could they? Before, the baby only knew the weightlessness in the amniotic fluid, and now it is something we call gravity, which makes it incredibly difficult to even lift the head.

In addition, at a very young age, many early childhood reactions are still recognizable, which gradually become less so. These include, for example, the grasping reflex, the sucking ref lex or the swallowing reflex. These serve at this time for survival and protection. Other specific reactions such as the ATNR (Asymmetric Tonic Neck Response), the STNR (Symmetric Tonic Neck Response) or the TLR (Tonic Labyrinth Response) also occur and are tested by the pediatrician. However, I will not go into further detail here. The early childhood reactions are gradually integrated with the advancing development of the child, i.e. they are reduced, since they stand in the way of the baby's development and are no longer needed.

In general, movement development always proceeds between symmetry and asymmetry. Both areas are necessary for motor development. Symmetry always conveys stability and security. Here, for example, I stand with both legs next to each other, it is a safe stand. But without asymmetry, locomotion would not be possible. If I want to start walking, I have to put one leg forward. And with that I am more unstable, but I can move forward. The motor development takes place in a spiral upwards from symmetry to asymmetry back to symmetry.

This principle also becomes clear in the so-called milestones of motor development. I will keep these relatively short below, so don't be surprised if small steps are skipped. Let's see if you can recognize the changes between symmetry and asymmetry.

After birth, the newborn first practices lifting its chin, then later its chest, and goes into forearm support with it. It goes into an unstable position and tries to turn, roll, gyrate or later crawl.

Finally, the baby pushes itself into the quadrupedal position, which is again a safe position. Only when this position is solidified will the baby begin to sit down over the side or crawl off. Most children next stand or pull themselves up somewhere into a standing position. This is a very wobbly position at first and children need to develop secure footing here. At this point, they have already accomplished a great many steps in the fight against gravity.

The next step is now that our not-so-little babies can stand on their own and eventually start walking. Some children start out very timidly and look at everything very carefully first. Others just start running and perhaps fall a little more often. The different temperaments of the children become very clear here.

Over the next few years, the movement sequences become more fluid and better coordinated. In the coordination of the different body parts and also in combination with the senses, they gain more and more confidence.

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