For physical therapy to be effective, it has to be practiced routinely. This means doing physical therapy exercises at home. For kids, physical therapy exercises can seem boring and tedious. Finding ways to make physical therapy exercises fun can help motivate your child to do their exercises regularly. He or she may even begin to look forward to their daily physical therapy routine! There are a few easy changes you can implement into your routine to make physical therapy time an exciting part of the day!
We’re starting to hear about “gameification” a lot nowadays; the gameification of the classroom, the gameification of exercise. To gameify something means to turn a seemingly mundane task into a game to stimulate motivation. By creating a game out of your physical therapy exercises, you can motivate your child to do their physical therapy exercises with gusto. Giving them a goal to work towards and achieve makes exercising feel more like winning a game. Here are a few ideas for gameifying physical therapy exercises at home:
- Spinners. You can either make the spinners or download some spinner apps on your smartphone. The way this works is you spin one spinner to determine which exercise your child will do and then you spin the other spinner to determine how many repetitions of the exercise your child will do. Your child can even use the spinners herself to select the task and number of repetitions. This helps your child to feel more in control and motivated to do their exercises.
- Dice. Using a die is similar to using a spinner in that your child can roll the die to determine how many repetitions or sets of an exercise to do. You can have a list on a dry erase board that your child crosses off as she goes through the exercises. Alternatively, you can make a die out of cardboard that has a different exercise on each side so that one die is rolled to determine the exercise and the other is rolled to determine the number of sets or repetitions.
- Sticker Chart. A sticker chart is a great way to visually track your child’s progress. On the left side of the chart, list the activities that you want your child to complete. Next to each activity should be seven tick boxes. Each day, whatever exercise your child works on gets a sticker. At the end of the week, if the whole chart is full, you can provide a special treat for your child. This can include a dance party, using the wii for exercise, or paying a visit to your clinic!
- Jenga. Finally, Jenga is another great game to play with your child. You can use colored markers to make differently colored shapes on each Jenga piece. Depending on the age and skill level of your child, you can either set up the Jenga set and have them pull pieces out without knocking the tower over or have them simply choose pieces out of a bucket. Each shape should correspond to a different activity and each color should correspond to a different number of repetitions. This is another great way to help your child feel in control and to make exercising feel like a game!
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center is a top therapy center serving families of children and adolescents with disabilities. Our team consists of the leading experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavior sciences. We offer intensive, hands-on therapy for children and adolescents as well as resources for families. We are real therapists helping real families with real issues. If you are concerned about your child’s behavior, take a moment to fill out our quick questionnaire. If you’d like to schedule an appointment, call 202-561-1110 (Washington, D.C. office) or 301-577-4333 (Lanham office) or contact us via our website. Want to keep up with our latest news and blog posts? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.