When parents are actively involved in their children’s development, it helps their kids develop physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. And, there are so many things that parents of children with cerebral palsy (CP) can do at home with their kids to foster their children’s independence and physical development.
Top Activities Parents Can Do at Home
Many children with cerebral palsy undergo ongoing therapy to help with their coordination and physical development. Professional occupational and physical therapies are essential to improving quality of life for children with CP. But parents can also play an active role in their child’s development with at-home activities for kids with cerebral palsy.
There are tons of activities you can do at home to help your child improve their coordination, grasp, social interactions and independence.
One issue that’s common among children with cerebral palsy is grasping objects and moving their fingers. Activities that encourage hand play help children strengthen the muscles needed for these actions.
Types of hand play activities for children with CP include:
- Sorting Games: Choose objects like M&Ms, balls or large paper clips that are easy for your child to grasp and manipulate and let them sort them into baskets by color, size or shape.
- Sticker Play: Sticker books encourage your child to pick up the stickers using their thumb and index finger and rearrange them. If you don’t have a changeable sticker book, you can also place the stickers on their unaffected arm or clothes (make sure the sticker’s adhesive isn’t super strong before you put it on their skin).
- Playdough Activities: Encourage your child to break pieces of playdough off, roll it into balls or logs and make all sorts of artistic creations.
Music and Art
Music and art are both enjoyable and relaxing activities for you and your child to do together. They can also help your child’s vocabulary increase and improve their mobility and fine motor skills.
Your child can get the benefits from music by singing along to songs or making up songs about your daily activities to different tunes. They can also dance to the music or clap their hands and stomp their feet to the rhythm.
As for art, one study showed how art therapy can help children with CP, specifically those with dysarthria—when the muscles needed to speak are weak or difficult to control. While the children were painting, modeling clay and stringing beads onto necklaces, the therapist would talk to them about their color choices and what they were making. After a few weeks, the children were better able to control their volume, tempo, pauses and fluency.
Physical Activity and Stretching
One of the more obvious ways to help your children improve their mobility is by getting active. No need for expensive equipment or fitness memberships to get the benefits of physical activities and stretching, there are many things you can do at home:
- Regardless of what type of mobility aids your child needs, you can dance to music.
- You can also play catch together. If you want to make it easier and more fun, you can apply Velcro to paddles and a ball, so your child can grab it.
- Try doing yoga together. Some poses will help your child increase or decrease their muscle tone, breathe better and improve their balance and bilateral coordination.
If you would like, you can even combine these activities into a family game day. At the end of the day, you can hand out homemade medals for the different events.
Games and Puzzles
The final category for at-home activities for kids with cerebral palsy is games and puzzles. LEGO®, pick-up sticks and peg boards are all great games to play to help your child get better at picking things up and manipulating items.
Puzzles also help your child develop their fine motor skills. If your child is struggling to put the pieces together, it is all right for you to help them with that part. Let them pick up the pieces and place them where they are supposed to go.
If you would like more information on activities for kids with cerebral palsy or the different types of therapies for CP, browse our content on therapy and treatment options. Or contact the Birth Injury Justice Center for more information on filing claims for parents of children with CP.