Is your child standing holding on to the surface with both hands, maybe even cruising…but will not let go and attempt independent standing?  

Not to worry, I have some simple ideas to encourage independent standing, building static and dynamic balance to ease the transition to ambulation!

We must remember that motor learning occurs in stages.  

Children require intrinsic and extrinsic feedback for each new skill.  

For standing, intrinsic feedback involves proprioception, utilizing the ground surface to push off for support, finding aligned neutral position, and engaging the necessary musculature to maintain balance.  

We can use massage to provide graded input to the foot.  

We can utilize joint compressions to the ankle, knee and hip to promote awareness of each lower extremity joint.  

Encouraging barefoot navigation as much as possible, to allow child to weight bear on different tactile surfaces, both indoors and outdoors! 

Here are some ideas to motivate:


independent standing children special needs

1) Take the focus off your child and more on the toys or objects that are motivating.  Instead of saying, “Stand up and look at this toy” try,  “Wow this toy is so fun!  Let’s play!”

independent standing children special needs

2) Use music, find a song that your child likes and have a “dance party”.  While they see you standing and bouncing to the beat, offer them a hand to stand and join the fun.  A good cadence can help encourage knee flexion/extension (facilitating leg musculature activation), which is important for independent standing and walking.  Let them hold an egg shaker or tambourine so that their hands are busy and they let go of your support.

3) Keep things off the floor, holding items at the level where child needs to stand and reach. 

independent standing children special needs

4) Change up the environment if you can, the park, friends/relatives houses, play spaces.  It is important to generalize skills, and if the child is associating home with “work” it is good to mix it up!

independent standing children special needs

5) Use one-on-one peer modeling (with peer who is standing/walking).  Bring out toy in open space at height that encourages standing and manipulating.  Allow your child to watch and engage with other child.  

independent standing children special needs

6) Play “make your own basketball” using different objects throwing into receptacle (held higher to encourage standing).  Think outside the box, for example throwing rolled up socks into laundry basket.

independent standing children special needs

7) Standing games, like ring around the rosy.  This encourages sit-to-stand transition as well!

independent standing children special needs

8) Bouncing, on your lap, on a therapy ball.  This is important for building that trunk strength/stability needed for standing and walking.

independent standing children special needs

9) Allow your child to experience different textures and deep input via joint compressions or massage to their feet and legs.  This provides them with the necessary intrinsic feedback their body needs to truly develop motor patterns.  While always providing positive extrinsic feedback and encouragement!

independent standing children special needs

10) Building confidence is half the battle, so be sure to allow for success in each activity and embrace your inner cheerleader!  

Motivate, encourage, participate!  

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