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A child’s difficulty is like a stone thrown into the water

Your weekly DevelopmenTip:

We tend to talk about the child as a whole. In my lectures and work with educators and other caregivers, often the question arises of how you perceive the child as a whole? How does a child’s difficulty in one area affect the child overall, and what does it all mean?

To explain my take on this, I use the metaphor of a stone that is thrown into a lake and the ripple effect created in the form of enlarging circles around it.

A child’s difficulty in a particular skill or function is the starting point, the stone thrown into the lake. The widening circles are the child’s different areas of functioning. The greater the stone, or difficulty, the wider the circles will be and the greater their impact.

This can be illustrated by numerous examples in all areas of functioning among children. Here is one example: The impact of a child having significant difficulty with his fine motor skills is broader than the specific challenge of handling a pencil - the child may be less independent at home, with eating, getting dressed, and in other areas, graphomotor development may be delayed, and there may be difficulties with cutting, arts and crafts, and hand-eye coordination - and when children compare themselves to their peers, it can affect them emotionally and lead them to develop low self-esteem. Furthermore, it can have a negative social impact because these children may refrain from playing certain social games that involve fine motor skills, and can even have an impact on behavior, causing avoidance, difficulty accepting boundaries, and more.

So, now that we are at the beginning of the school year, I would like to remind you all in this DevelopmenTip of the importance of early detection and treatment of difficulties and avoidance in children, in order to enable them a full and joyful development. If you are having doubts, consult or ask for a diagnosis (I am always at your service), and if you detect difficulty, intervene by contacting the appropriate professionals.

There is a substantial difference, though, between the stone and the child in this metaphor, and it comes with a great responsibility for us parents, educators and caregivers: When a stone is thrown into the water, the circles become increasingly feebler and eventually disappear, but what about in a human being?

Guy Yaakov Yekutieli, Occupational Therapist; Writer and publisher of developmental activity books


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