Low muscle tone- encouragement to move

Hi there-
My son is 4 years old and has low muscle tone. He was in PT through the school district until age 2 for a small gross motor delay, but everything was resolved. The PT did mention he has low tone. Now that he is 4 he loves to watch tv, do puzzles, read, fine motor things etc… how can I encourage him to move!? We have been doing charts with an award of candy or toys but that is getting old…

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@Laura1 Kids with low tone usually benefit from some postural work so I always love to recommend yoga! When kids hold poses, they build their muscular endurance. Cosmic kids yoga is often a lot of fun and you can find her channel on YouTube. Also, swimming and outdoor play at the playground are also great activities. Since kids with low tone usually fatigue easier because just initiating movement takes more energy, building endurance can be key! However, we have so many amazing PT’s in our community that I’m sure will have some awesome ideas! I will tag them as well! @tots-allison @Starfishtherapies @Alinclusivetherapy @Swtintle @Giselle_Tadros @magicmomentstherapy @BritapedsPT @HeatherPedsPT

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Love the ideas already mentioned by @tots-mary! I also love love using indoor obstacle courses! Cardboard boxes, bins, pool noodles, couch cushion and painters tape can allow you to get creative. Adding in lots of big movements like jumping, walking over the pillows, hopping, walking in a straight line can encourage movement and strengthening! Start with smaller obstacle courses initially, since your little has low tone. Sensory bins with water are also beneficial, they require less energy but still, some heavy work to play with water but are great for encouraging TV-free play. Hipe that helps!

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I agree with @tots-mary and @Tinytotspt. Some other fun things are crawling up and down the stairs, or over softer surfaces. Make a big pile of pillows and cushions and cover it with a quilt (or not) and put puzzle pieces all around and he has to crawl across to get one at a time to put back in the puzzle (or any game with multiple pieces!). Also animal walks are great. We have a blog post with animal ideas (and we did a youtube video workout - Here’s our playlist with all our fitness videos) and we have animal cards in our shop (as well as obstacle course cards). I can keep trying to come up with ideas but lots of fun whole body movements!

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Love all these ideas!! You all are so helpful, I miss our PT and having preschool to push him. So thank you all!! How would you handle him not wanting to do these activities…? He is an opinionated 4 year old and digs his heels in the ground when he doesn’t want to do something. How far do I push? I don’t want him to hate big movements/gross motor? But also know he needs to be pushed!

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That’s tough. I completely get it. What if you do them with him? Or, if you have a small pod/bubble of people is there anyone that he might have more ‘fun’ playing with? Sometimes it’s easier coming from someone else. Or you could make it part of the day. For instance 9:00 is exercise time and you could have several options for him to choose (making them fun). Just brainstorming some ideas but happy to help come up with more!

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@Laura1 That’s definitely a challenge! How about giving him a choice? If you have a big cube/block, writing these activities on a paper and sticking it on each side. He can roll the dice and do the activity that comes up. Maybe setting up a visual chart for the day? Helps some opinionated kiddos! If it’s a part of the routine like brushing our teeth, it can become less challenging maybe.

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Hi @Laura1
I agree with doing more postural work combined with deep breathing or singing to help with core pressure. Singing, blowing out candles (pretend) with a purses lip helps increase intra thoracic pressure which will in turn increase extremity force felt strength! ( evidenced based)
So start his movement demands by beginning to get him to do some counting , singing while doing a wall slide or blowing a tissue while lifting his head off the floor to make it go high ( attempting a sit up )
After these ideas :bulb:, immediately try jumping or marching and singing or counting simultaneously bc leg strength is stronger when vocal folds are