5 Reasons Why Your Child May Have Balance Issues

Child Balance

We see and hear reports of balance issues a lot…. whether your child has difficulty navigating throughout the community or even just a hard time standing in place by themselves, balance is HUGE for their ability to perform daily tasks independently.

There are not only five reasons your child may have poor balance, but here are the five most common causes…

1. Visual Impairment:

Sure it may seem your child is just weak and doesn’t want to listen to you, but a reason they have poor balance could be poor visual efficiency. Your eyes give you a ton of feedback to your brain about where you are in space. This doesn’t mean clarity of vision (although that could be contributing also). It is actually how our eyes interpret our environment to see one clear image. If our eyes are not on the same page of interpreting what is in front of us, it could most definitely be causing balance impairments!


2. Decreased Core Strength:

It always comes back to core stability. If we have a weak core, it throws off our balance of the rest of our bodies. It’s likely to think that leg and hip weakness is the culprit, which a lot of the time it is a factor, but it always must start at the core. You can have really strong legs, but if you can’t stabilize your trunk, you won’t be able to stand still in place to maintain your balance. Even if your child isn’t quite standing yet, your child may not be able to hold their head upright due to the inability to hold their trunk upright.


3. Poor Body Awareness:

You may have heard this term “body awareness” before, but in case you haven’t, it just means your ability to know where your body is in space. For example, if I hold my arm out to the side, my brain knows that I am holding my arm out to the side and I am getting feedback to my brain to tell me that. Sometimes if that processing is a little off, we don’t get as good of feedback to tell us where our body is so it can contribute to lack of coordination and even safety concerns.


4. Poor Midline Development:

Similar to the concept above, it is really important to know where our middle is. It helps us stay upright and stay centered. If your child doesn’t have the true sense of their midline, they will have difficulty balancing and keeping good posture.


5. Reflex Integration:

Fancy words but to explain … we are born with reflexes. As we grow these reflexes integrate, meaning they go away and are no longer present. We have them as human nature to facilitate what we need as infants. With neurological conditions, sometimes these flexes don’t integrate. Let’s use the Babinski reflex as an example of how a reflex, normally not present after age two, can affect balance. The Babinski reflex occurs when, after the sole of the foot has been firmly stroked, the big toe moves toward the top surface of the foot and the other toes fan out. This nerve path starts at our feet and goes all the way up to our cortex and back down our body. When children retain the Babinski reflex too long, it means they don’t have a clear central nervous system and their brain has to work harder on other functions. A child who retains the Babinski reflex will find it uncomfortable to put their feet on the floor and have good balance because their toes and inside of their foot arch will always want to come up off the floor. This is a common and normal reaction for babies before the age of two, but imagine if your feet could not touch the floor without wanting to come up off of it as a child just learning how to play!


There are many more than 5 reasons your child’s balance could be off. It could even be a combination of things. What’s most important is your awareness and knowing that issues like this affect the quality of not only your child’s life but also your family’s lives.

Questions about your specific situation? Would love to help! Email me at christine@breakthroughptli.com

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Christine Astarita