Are coordination troubles keeping your child from tying their own shoes?
Are they having a hard time learning to read or write?
If so, this could be related to their fine motor skills development.
In particular, your child may be having trouble with crossing the midline.
Crossing the midline is a key component of many fine and gross motor skills that children develop in their early years.
In most cases, children naturally develop this skill.
But if they don’t, it can lead to developmental delays.
If your child is having trouble crossing the midline, pediatric occupational therapy in Portland can help.
For now, let’s take a closer look at this fine motor skill.
What Does It Mean To Cross Your Midline?
Imagine an invisible line that separates the left and right sides of your body, all the way from the top of your head down to your toes.
This is your midline.
Crossing your midline is what you do any time you complete an action which involves coordinated movement on both sides of this imaginary line.
Think of tying your shoes, moving your arms and legs at the same time when you swim, or moving your eyes across a page as you read.
In terms of early childhood development, crossing the midline means your child is successfully using both sides of their brain to coordinate movement.
You cross your midline to complete countless everyday tasks and leisure activities, including:
- Getting dressed
- Reaching for a cup of coffee
- Writing on paper
- Doing yoga
- Using scissors
- Reading a book
- Playing drums
- Preparing food
- And much more
Why Is Crossing The Midline Important?
Crossing the midline is a building block for many of the more complex skills that your child will develop in early childhood.
When you think of coordination, what comes to mind?
Maybe things like balance, aim, and controlled movement like throwing a ball or bringing a spoon to your mouth.
Coordination is all of these things.
But it can also be a much more subtle part of your everyday movements.
Being able to coordinate movement using both sides of the brain allows your child to learn puzzle and problem solving skills.
It also allows them to visually follow moving objects, and to learn more complex movement.
What Age Should Children Be Able To Cross Midline?
Crossing the midline is a skill that grows in complexity from early infancy until your child is about 8 or 9.
Your child might show early signs of crossing the midline by tracking an object with their eyes in their first few months.
They may also reach across their body to play with a foot or grab a toy within their first year.
When your child is a toddler or preschooler you might see finer and more complex midline crossing in things like their drawing skills.
As your child reaches school age, and up to the age of eight or nine, you can see their skills develop as they learn to read, kick a ball with more control, and improve their coordination and balance.
Why Do Kids Not Cross Midline?
Occupational therapists emphasize crossing the midline as an important step in your child’s development.
If your child is not crossing the midline, it means the two sides of their brain are not communicating well with each other.
Difficulty crossing the midline can be related to an underlying condition, environmental factors, or just be a case of a child developing at their own pace.
How To Tell If Your Child Is Having Difficulty Crossing the Midline
If you notice some of the following behaviors, it could be a sign that your child is having trouble crossing the midline:
- They switch hands while drawing, painting, or coloring
- They use their right hand on the right side of their body and left hand on the left side
- They don’t cross their arm over their body
- They use different feet to kick a ball
- They turn their body instead of reaching across
- They have trouble crawling
- They have trouble with jumping jacks
- They have trouble skipping
- They have trouble visually following objects
- They have trouble with handwriting
- They have trouble tying their shoes
How Can You Help Your Child With Crossing The Midline?
To help your child develop their ability to cross the midline, focus on bilateral integration, core stability, and integrating midline crossing into everyday activities.
Activities that encourage bilateral integration involve using both hands or both sides of the body at the same time.
Activities that encourage bilateral integration include:
- Gross motor skills play like jumping and skipping
- Playing catch
- Playing a drum
- Getting dressed
- Doing and undoing laces and buttons
- Threading beads
- Cutting with scissors
Working on core stability will help your child with balance, giving them a stronger foundation to cross the midline.
Activities that improve core stability include:
- Riding a bike (with or without training wheels)
- Yoga and dance
- Movement games like Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes or the Hokey Pokey
By building midline crossing into your child’s daily routine, you can help them practice and ease them into experimenting with midline crossing more on their own.
Some easy ways to integrate midline crossing into your child’s routine:
- Place shoes and socks to one side so your child has to reach across their body while getting dressed
- Washing under opposite arms during bath time
- Make a game of popping bubbles with only one hand
- Integrate midline crossing into games like Simon Says
If your child continues to have difficulties with crossing the midline, an occupational therapist can offer you strategies and support to help your child develop this skill.
How Can Occupational Therapy For Crossing Midline Help?
An occupational therapist can help identify the underlying skills your child needs to develop if they have persistent trouble with crossing the midline.
Occupational therapy can help your child:
- Develop the skills needed to dress themselves
- Develop the skills needed to eat on their own
- Develop a dominant hand
- Develop their literacy skills
- Improve their gross motor skills
- Improve their fine motor skills
- Improve their independence
- Prepare them to begin school
- And more
Book Your Appointment With New Horizons Wellness Services Today
Have you noticed that your child tends to do things sideways or move their work to one side of their body?
Does your child have trouble with coordination during physical activity or while doing fine motor tasks?
If you think your child might be having difficulty crossing the midline, we can help.
At New Horizons Wellness Services, we can help your child understand and develop the skills they need for future learning and adventure.
Yours in Health,New Horizons Wellness Services
13333 SW 68th Pkwy,
Tigard, OR 97223
New Horizons Wellness Services provides a true multidisciplinary approach to mental & physical health treatments for children, adults and families.