My child seems to have trouble sitting at the table for longer than 10 minutes at home for dinner, and his teacher says it's the same at school. She said it might be low muscle tone. How do we know and what do we do about it? 

Muscle tone is the amount of tension in the muscles, achieved by a continuous partial contraction of the muscles. This helps us to keep our bodies in a certain position. Muscle tone is different to muscle strength. Strength is more so a component of physical fitness. For example, if we pick up something heavy, our muscles exert force that gives us the strength to pick up the item. 

There are a number of signs that can indicate low muscle tone: 

  • Does your child seem to tire very easily?
  • Does your child sweat more than other kids during physical activity?
  • Does your child seem “floppy” or “double jointed”?
  • As a baby, did your child take their weight when you picked them up or were they a “heavy” baby?

Certain activities can be beneficial if you think your child may have low muscle tone: 

* Animal walks 
  • Bear walk on hands and feet with bottom in the air
  • Bunny hops
  • Frog leaps

Wheelbarrow walks 
  • Support your child at the hips while he places his hands on the floor and walks forward
  • Support just above the knees as your child becomes stronger

Scooter boards and balance boards are fun and help build core strength 

* Swimming or jungle gym play 

* Fun obstacle courses (set up your own in the backyard) using various combinations of witches hatsbean bagsfoot pods, and other gross motor products. Be creative! 

Because of the fatigue that is often related to low muscle, you may have noticed difficulties with fine motor activities such as writing, drawing, colouring or cutting. Improving these skills can increase participation at school and prevent your child from falling behind. If you suspect that your child may need extra help in this area, seeking the assistance of an occupational therapist can be beneficial.