In the physical developmental area, there are a few skills that your little one will master soon. If we focus on gross motor skills, there is an exciting milestone that children accomplish between 18 and 36 months: running.

Since your little one’s brain, muscles, and nerves continue to develop, it’s important to support the acquisition of new skills. Sometimes we think that the development happens automatically, by instinct. However, recent studies show that the activities you and your child are involved in have a great impact on his skills.

12-24 months

A sign that your son is about to start running is his growing interest in going up and down the stairs, dancing, and jumping. These are signs that his muscles are getting stronger and are getting ready to run. To do so, he must improve his balance and develop his spatial skills, which will help him become a better runner.

How can you help him during this stage? Create a game where he needs to sit on a chair and get up repetitively, for example by playing musical chairs. This activity will stimulate his spatial skills, movement planning, balance, muscular strength, and instruction comprehension.

It is also recommended to give instructions while he is moving to foster his cognitive area, for example by saying “Stop!” or “Wait for me”. Maybe your son won’t follow the instruction at first, but little by little you’ll see how he starts to understand their meaning while he works on his language comprehension and concept of cause and effect.

24-36 months

During this stage, you’ll notice that your child’s movements become more coordinated, he keeps his balance for longer, jumps while holding something, has better reflexes, and maybe runs short distances.

It is recommended that your child engages in at least 30 minutes of physical activities and 60 minutes of free play every day. We don’t recommend that he remains inactive for more than 60 minutes. Instead of sitting him in front of a movie, go to the park, follow the lines on the floor, or play hopscotch.

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These kinds of activities will strengthen his muscles, perfect his acquired skills, and help your child feel safe enough to experiment with new movements. For example, by running over different surfaces, turning in the middle of a sprint, or practicing better arm control. Also, you’ll have fun together.

36-48 months

During these months, you’ll notice that your child becomes a very active little boy. Now, his gross motor skills will be very diverse, he’ll be able to master certain skills like running and jumping, his balance will be much better, and he’ll start acquiring new skills like throwing, catching, and kicking a ball.

How can you stimulate your little one’s skills? Aside from the importance of free play that we’ve already mentioned, your son will be ready to follow a short process that will help him acquire new skills. We will show it to you by using a simple example of how the steps work.

  1. Watches the action performed by others: Ask your little one to watch how dad kicks a ball to score a goal.
  2. Creates an image of the action: Ask your child to imagine and describe how did dad come close to the ball and where did he kick it to.
  3. Imitates action: Now he’ll need to stand beside his father and try to kick the ball.
  4. Practices action: Probably he won’t be able to kick the ball the first few times, so make sure he keeps trying.
  5. Is motivated and repeats action: Remember that the motivation he receives will make him feel confident enough to try again. Tell him you know that he can do it, so he feels comfortable enough to keep practicing.

By the time your child turns 3, he’ll need many opportunities to practice these skills. Try to let him solve a problem by himself and, when you see him struggling after a few attempts, help him out by guiding his actions.

Don’t forget that one of our goals is for you to do the activities together. A safe and secure environment will foster an optimal development. And what better way of creating such a space than playing with your little one while he develops other skills.

More information:
Motor skills: needs some exercising in order to develop!
Ready, set, go: A journey of my child’s physical skills