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It’s hard for a kid (and some adults) to resist a raised brick divider. They can’t help but hop on top, stretch to their arms for balance, and put one foot in front of the other as though they’re walking a tightrope.

From the time your kids are able to walk, helping them to strengthen their physical ability to balance will improve their motor skill development, strengthen their sensory processing and give them confidence. When we focus on balance exercises, we’re improving the body’s vestibular system, which is centered in the inner ear. This is why an inner ear infection can often lead to a feeling of dizziness or imbalance. Focusing on exercises that improve balance can benefit your child’s sense of well being.

For a child with sensory processing disorders, trying to work some balance exercises into her daily routine can help her to feel more secure and in control of her space.

JUMPING — On a trampoline, or with a jump rope, get bouncing. For added coordination, draw a line or two circles on the sidewalk and jump back and forth over the line, or between the two circles. Hopscotch is another fun way to add jumping exercises; so is sitting on an exercise ball and bouncing in place.

HULA HOOP — Remember those old things? You can still get them, and they’re cheap. There are even some that are designed for exercise and are a little heavier.

BALANCE BEAM — It doesn’t have to be a raised beam, although most parks will have something kids can walk across. For younger children, especially, stick some masking tape on the carpet, or draw a chalk line on the driveway and have them pretend they’re walking across a tight rope.

WHEELBARROW RACING — Hold your child’s legs while she balances on her hands, walking forward. This also helps to build upper body strength.

FITNESS BALL — If you have access to a Bosu ball at a gym (they’re pricey) have your child practice standing on it. Once she gets stable, have her squat in place, arms stretched out. Doing squats without the Bosu ball can also help with coordination. Start with both feet on the ground, and then try doing half squats with one foot in the air.

YOGA — So much of yoga is about balance and movement. Downward-facing dog, tree, warrior, and half-moon poses are some of the best moves for strengthening balance and coordination.

DON’T LOOK! — Doing any of these exercises with your eyes closed — as long as you’re keeping an eye on your kiddo — will add more of a challenge.

It will also further strengthen your child’s sense of balance and coordination.

Talk to Jenna

Jenna Kochenauer is a news anchor on WORD 106.3 FM radio. Follow her @JennaOnTheAir. Read her blog at www.NotSoFitGirl.com.

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