Introduction to the psychomotor development of the child


In order to process the topic concerning the psychomotor development I was inspired by the mothers, which I used to listen to on the playground. One of them was proud that her baby is able to sit already , even though the baby was just 5 months old. Other mother noted that she bought her 8 months old son baby walker, and the third mother only stood in the background sadly watching the discussion from afar, and various thoughts went through her head, whether her child is not belated, when it is „just” rolling and crawling, and in addition her own mother tells her, that she was already in one year without diapers.


Each of you has already heard a similar discussion of mothers or perhaps you joined the discussion as well. Maybe you felt similarly, when you head praise about someone else’s child. I would like to explain everything, and i would be very glad if you would lead your children according to their psychomotor development. Maybe you are proud of your child, but hurrying the development, doesn’t benefit your child’s health.

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is irrecoverable change of the position of the vertebrae, manifested by a visible curvature of the spine in a „C” or „S” shape. The shoulders are not in the same height and the pelvis is usually tilted. Excessive scoliosis can be manifested for example by stepping on the inner side of the outsoles. Read more about it in article about scoliosis in children.



Central nervous system (CNS) is composed of cerebral cortex, core centers, extended spinal cord and spinal cord. CNS of the newly born child is not mature yet and it is gradually developing till the sixth year of life. The single parts of the CNS mature gradually and it can be said that the motor skills mature from the spinal cord (in the spine) directing the cerebral cortex (in the skull). The newborn in the phase of first month basically only lies and his movements are depending on the reflexes from the spinal cord, vegetative nervous system (controlling for example the activity of the intestinal tract) alternatively controlling from the extended spinal cord (securing for example breathing and heart activity).


Approximately by the 4th year of the child’s life ends the maturation of the CNS in the gross motor skills (gross motor skills is for example walking, etc.). You can test the maturity of the CNS yourself. Three year old child should be able to stand on one leg for at least 3 seconds or it should be able to lift its arm above the head, so that the arm would be stretched up from the head as much as possible.


Approximately by the 6th year of the child’s life ends the maturation of the CNS in the fine motor skills (fine motor skills is for example movement of the hand or gentle movements of the facial muscles). The child should be able to hold objects without your help. Therefore the maturation of the CNS is connected also with attending the school, where the child learns how to write. Maturation of the fine and gross motor skills is genetically preprogrammed.


Roughly from the 2nd month of age, in dependance on the maturation of the CNS, children starts to lift up their head while lying on the stomach, to increase their visual field. If they lie on the back, thanks to motivation they can reach for a toy, and turn around etc. In principle it can be said that without a motivation (desire of the child to accomplish something) there would be no advance in the development of the movement. From here is derived the medical term „psychomotor development”.


I would be very happy if all mothers would respect the genetically programmed psychomotor development and would not rush the the development of their child, because the skeletal system is in the first years of life very soft, cartilaginous and it is very easily structurally damaged. One of the example can be the fact that children who are prematurely, passively seated by their parents are prone to anatomic changes on the vertebrae, from which can results the risk of formation of structural scoliosis, and also the internal organs inside the thorax and abdomen are inadequately pressured by the weight of the head and upper part of the trunk.


Correct direction of the psychomotor development of the child can be tested in three ways:

1) Test evaluating the level straightening or in other words postural activity. Specialist but also mothers can observe what the children can do. Whether they rotate, hold a toy, put it in their mouths or just looking at it. In such case is evaluated the quantity and quality of the movement. With each week and month, there are certain activities and skills which the child should achieve.


2) Another test is evaluation of the postural reactability, which can be tested by seven positional reactions. The child reacts according to the changed position with a movement answer. The best known test among mothers is when we slowly lift up the child which is laying on the back, by pulling them up by their arms, and seating them. During this test is evaluated how much is the child pulling, and does it „sit”. These tests are usually performed by a child neurologist. However even pediatrician should know these tests so that he could timely evaluate whether the child is going through an incorrect treatment.


3) in a complete evaluation of the tests also belongs testing of the primitive (newborn) reflexes. That is reflexes which are controlled by the spinal cord. These reflexes will never disappear with age. Only depending on the maturation of higher levels of the CNS, that is when these reflexes are „covered”, dampened, they cannot be evoked later by the child with a healthy development. These reflexes can be observed only in case when the CNS is damaged, for example after stroke by adult person, infectious diseases of the CNS by children etc.



Examining toddlers reflexesExamining the childs development


I would be glad, if more mothers would be at least little bit able to evaluate the psychomotor development of their children, and in case of necessity they would visit a pediatrician for possible deviations.

In following articles i am more in depth dealing with the specific development of the psychomotor development of children according to individual phases of their life.

I would like this introductory article to end with a statement from a renown, but unfortunately already deceased specialist Doc. MUDr. Václav Vojta: „Mothers are the best diagnosticians of their children. It is them who observe their children and spend with them most of the day. Their perception is for the specialized doctor the best entry point for revealing the possible problems.”




Published in magazine Uzlíček, no: 4/2007
Author: Mgr. Iva Bílková, FYZIOklinika fyzioterapie Ltd, Prague, Czech Republic

Login to post comments

Exercises that might interest you

Exercising with babies - reflexive crawling

Reflexive crawling is one of the global therapeutic models of…

Exercising with children - reflexive turning - 1st phase from supine position

Reflexive turning one of the global therapeutic models of the…

Exercising with children - reflexive turning - 2nd phase from the side

2nd phase of the reflexive turning starts in a position…

Videos that might interest you

What might interest you

Psychomotor development of the child - 9 to 10 months

In the previous article from this serie we focused mainly on how can the development of your child be disrupted…

Postnatal paresis of the brachial plexus

Brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves led from the spinal cord from the 5th cervical and 1st thoracic vertebrae.…

Prof. MUDr. Václav Vojta, DrSc.

Prof. MUDr. Václav Vojta was born 12.7.1917 in Mokrosuky in southern Bohemia. He was among the most significant czech and…