Letting Your Child Fall Safely During Developmental Play
by Abby Thompson, PT, DPT
Pediatric Physical Therapist at Kids Place West
Your child is now pulling themselves into standing, but they haven’t quite figured out how to lower themselves from a standing position. What should you do? Is it okay to let them fall or should you move them back into a sitting position? This is a question we often receive from parents.
It can be scary to let your child fall when they are playing, and ensuring safety and preventing injuries is a priority for all children. However, here are some of the benefits of allowing your child to fall in a safe and controlled manner during developmental play.
Development of Protective Reactions
Our balance systems integrate information when our center of mass falls outside of our base of support so that we are able to catch ourselves and not fall to the ground. These are called our protective reactions. When a child falls, their balance systems receive input on why the fall occurred. Opportunities for safe and controlled falling allows our protective balance reactions to develop, and for children to learn how to independently catch themselves if they lose balance.
However, children’s sensory systems may be delayed in developing protective reactions without practicing these responses. As a result, this may prevent children from wanting to participate in functional play due to their fear of falling and feeling incapable of catching themselves from a fall.
Opportunities for Motor Learning
Internal and external feedback on motor performance is provided to the body after a child falls. The brain then interprets the movement that resulted in a fall, providing learning opportunities. Giving children safe opportunities for independence during play can promote motor learning by allowing for problem solving during exploration of their environment.
While safety is always a priority, falling safely during supervised play can be beneficial for a child’s learning and development. This prepares them to fall less when exploring their environment in the future.
If you have concerns about your child’s development, Kids Place Pediatric Therapy in Arizona is here to help. We offer pediatric speech, occupational, physical and feeding therapy in Goodyear, Phoenix, Prescott and Gilbert. Click here to schedule an evaluation!