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Why is my child so clumsy?

Updated: Oct 16, 2019

Is your child constantly bumping into things? Standing too closely to others? Do they struggle walking up and down stairs or riding a bike?

While you may have just chalked it up to having a clumsy child, there may actually be an explanation for their clumsiness.

It may be that they have proprioceptive dysfunction.

Proprioception is one of the seven senses (yes, there are actually seven) and it’s guided by receptors in the body (skin, muscles, joints) that connect with the brain through the nervous system so that even without sight, your child knows what his or her body is doing. So, if your child’s proprioception is off, that can explain why they appear to be so clumsy.

If your child is constantly running into things or touching walls, they are seeking regulation, meaning they need help knowing where their body is in relation to other people and things. If they struggle with riding a bike or walking up and down stairs, poor motor planning may be the issue, meaning they may not have the skills to properly plan out how to remember and perform steps to make a certain movements happen.

Now that you have an explanation, we have even better news … We can help!

As occupational therapists, we see this problem often and have exercises and activities that can help your child better regulate their proprioceptive abilities. These include tasks that give extra input to the muscles and joints like pushing or lifting heavy objects to playing with playdough, cutting thick paper or playing games like Twister or Simon Says that help with motor planning.

Luckily, all of these activities are fun for children so they don’t even know they’re “working!”

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