My success rate teaching kids to walk significantly improved when I changed my goal setting method. Instead of step by step goals, I now have one goal: walking.
This allows me to focus mostly on activating and strengthening muscles and muscle groups that keep the body upright and move the body forward in a standing position.
The beauty of this approach is that the children learn to sit, crawl on their own or with relatively small intervention.
Yes and no.
1. I follow the natural chronological pattern as much as possible, but it is best to address the ankles, the head and everything in between on a daily basis.
2. It is impossible to work on everything in one session. It would be overwhelming for the child, and it does not fit in the time-frame of a session.
3. The child's understanding of the given skill and movement affects the order. The ability to execute a new movement is complex and hard.
For example, working on weight bearing is not attainable until a certain point in the development, but it is possible to introduce it with many hands. Sometimes it means three people, mom, dad, and therapist will support the child at the first attempts.
4. There are certain steps from above that have to be maintained on a daily basis. I teach the parents my approach, and we establish a home exercise program to help the child practice the movements and skills. The parents work on several aspects:
We all heard that prevention is the best approach. And that the younger the child, the easier it is to learn the skills. With this I agree wholeheartedly.
However, we have managed, with dedicated parents as a team, to achieve standing, stepping and minimally supported walking starting therapy at 3 up to 8 years of age. It requires more work, more hands, and a longer time-frame but it is possible.
The ideal time to start is at eight weeks of age, or before three months. The next best is before the 9th month, and the last best is before the age of 15 months.
At 3, 9 and 15 months there is a cognitive change in the baby, and that makes it harder and harder to teach a habituated skill the new way.
Let’s assume you are worried about your baby’s development.
Maybe your baby is premature, or sleeps too much, or has difficulty sleeping, or cries too much, or eats too little, or is too weak/floppy, or arching all the time or does not lift his/her head on time, or does not roll on time… the list is long. I addressed some possible issues in my blog on head control.
To help you with the physical components of walking I wrote an extensive article about the ways babies learn to walk.
What can you do?
With intention, a vision, a clear goal, patience, persistence, daily repletion, and a joyful firm belief in your baby, in yourself and the universe anything is possible!
As always, enjoy your baby and motherhood.
See your baby (babies) as a gift for you to love and cherish.
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