Why kids struggle with movement and coordination

By Andrew M.I. Lee, JD

Kids can struggle with movement and coordination in different ways. Some kids have trouble learning small movements, like how to brush their teeth or hold a pencil. Others may struggle with big movements, like how to kick a ball or ride a bike. These all use different kinds of motor skills. 

Trouble learning motor skills doesn’t mean kids are lazy. Or that they’re not paying attention when you explain how to do something.

Kids may be struggling with different types of motor skills: 

  • Fine motor skills use the small muscles in our hands and wrists. Trouble in this area can make it hard to do things like write, type, and use zippers.
  • Gross motor skills use the large muscles in the torso, arms, and legs. Trouble with these whole-body movements can make it hard to run, jump, throw, and catch.
  • Motor planning is a skill that allows us to remember and perform a sequence of movements. Trouble in this area can make it hard to do things like wash hands or tie shoes.

Some kids take longer to develop these skills and may just need more time to catch up. But others may need extra support to improve these skills.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Andrew M.I. Lee, JD is an editor and attorney who strives to help people understand complex legal, education, and parenting issues.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Priscila Tamplain, PhD is an associate professor in the department of kinesiology and the director of the Developmental Motor Cognition Lab at the University of Texas at Arlington.