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20 Amazing Vestibular Activities For Kids

Vestibular activities are a great way to help your child develop their 7th sense. Yes, you read that right! There are actually more senses than just taste, sight, smell, hearing, and touch.

The vestibular system along with the proprioceptive system allows us to maintain our balance and move in a swift and smooth motion.

Some children have difficulties with vestibular processing which can make daily living very challenging.

Engaging in daily vestibular activities at home is a great way to help support your young developing children.

What is the Vestibular System?

The vestibular system is a sensory system that is found in the inner ear.

This part of the ear is actually lined with fluid and hairs, and every time we move our head or make a movement this fluid gets brushed against these hairs. The more we move, the more hairs gets stimulated.

The information from our inner ear then gets passed on to the brain so we know where and how to move! Pretty amazing stuff!

This important sensory system is the reason why we can maintain balance, have hand-eye coordination, and plan out motor movements.

When used the right way, vestibular activities can also help to calm and soothe an overactive child. These children are known as vestibular seekers. (more information below)

Signs of Under-Developed Vestibular System

Some children might have an underdeveloped vestibular system or issues processing sensory input. If that is the case for your child you may see the following signs:

  • Poor posture when standing and sitting – may sit in the W position
  • Clumsiness or falling frequently
  • Poor handwriting
  • Impaired attention span
  • Difficulty with problem-solving
  • Poor reading, writing, and math skills
  • Poor body coordination during activities or sports

Within this group of children, you may find kids who actively seek out vestibular input. While this isn’t always a bad thing, some children can go overboard. This is because their brain is under-processing the vestibular stimulation so they are always trying to find more ways to get sensory input.

Vestibular Seeking Behaviors:

  • Seeks out activities where feet are off the ground (swings, slides, bike riding, jumping)
  • Climbs up very high on things without any fear or regard for danger
  • Difficulty remaining still – may need to move or sway to pay attention
  • Enjoys being upside down and frequently changing directions
  • Does not appear to get dizzy even with excess spinning

On the other hand, some children in this group will show avoidant behaviors and will avoid vestibular input at all costs. This is because their sensory system is on over-drive, and their brain is receiving too much vestibular input for them to handle.

Vestibular Avoidant Behaviors:

  • Does not like the swings
  • Fear of climbing
  • Prefers calmer activities
  • Does not like to play rough with others
  • Frequent dizziness and motion sickness
  • Does not like rapid change of directions or hanging upside down

While all this may seem a bit overwhelming, there is good news! Vestibular activities can help both groups of children develop their vestibular sensory processing.

20 Necessary Vestibular Activities

For kids who seek out this type of input, vestibular activities can help fulfill their need for stimulation. This, in turn will help kids to become more calm and focused.

For children who avoid these types of activities, it is important to slowly expose these kids to vestibular input. Over time, they should become more tolerant of this type of stimulation.

1. Sidewalk Chalk Tight Rope

Grab some sidewalk chalk and start drawing straight lines, loopy lines, and zig zags. Then, have your child walk along the lines as if walking on a tight rope!

2. Rocking chair

This is a great calming activity for very energetic children, but it is also a good activity for children who avoid vestibular activities because of how relaxing and safe it is.

kids engaging in vestibular activities

3. Simon Says

Certain Simon says commands can really help to improve a child’s balance and movement. Try saying commands like “Bend over and touch your toes” or “Spin around in a circle two times”.

4. Gymnastics

Doing cartwheels, forward rolls, and handstands are all extremely beneficial during child development. There is a reason why so many young kids take gymnastics classes!

5. Stomach Lying Read-aloud

Positioning your child on their stomach during activities like reading is a great way to provide sensory input and get the body used to being in different positions.

6. Log rolling

Whether inside or outside, have your child lie down on the ground and roll all around. To make this activity even better, try log rolling down a hill!

7. Dancing to Music

There are so many amazing benefits of music for kids! As you play music and encourage your child to dance, you are helping them to move and grove in many different directions.

8. Bike Riding

Bike riding is a wonderful physical activity that really encourages balance, body coordination, and planned movements. While it may be difficult at first, practice makes perfect!

9. Gardening

There is something about playing with dirt and soil that children are really drawn to. For both kids and adults, gardening can be a really relaxing activity. It’s also a great vestibular activity since you have to bend over and move quite often.

10. Bouncing on an Exercise Ball

There are many different ways to use an exercise ball. Your child can simply bounce up and down or lie on their tummy and rock back and forth.

11. Spinning in a Swivel Chair

If you have a swivel office chair at home, allow your child to spin themselves in the chair. They must do this activity by themselves because spinning is actually an extremely powerful vestibular input activity.

12. Stretching

Stretching is a calming activity that encourages children to become comfortable with their head and body in different positions.

13. Jumping

While this activity should be done under direct supervision, it is encouraged to have your child jump around, whether on the bed, a sofa, or even a trampoline!

14. Hopscotch

I really like this game because it requires children to accurately plan their movements as they jump, either with one leg or two in a forward motion.

15. Obstacle Course

Try creating a simple obstacle course that encourages children to move high, low, and in different directions.

16. Playing Twister

This is a fun floor game that requires children to bend, lean, and twist their bodies! It’s a great way to get those kids giggling too!

17. Sled Riding

If you live somewhere that snows, then sledding is a must for your kids! The movement down a hill is a fun way to get the vestibular system activated.

18. Swinging

This is a very relaxing activity for kids. Swinging your child in a blanket, lying in a hammock, or going to the swings at the park are all great options!

19. The Floor is Lava Game

This was my favorite game growing up! Provide your child with cushions, blankets, and whatever else you have, and encourage your child to use these supplies to make it across the living room without touching the lava ground!

20. Monkey on my back

This is a classic game that all children love. Have your child climb on your back and gently move around in different directions and speeds to get the ‘monkey’ off your back!

I hope these activities help your little ones with their vestibular development!

Remember, while we want to expose our children to these types of activities, it is important to never force anything and make sure to stop completely if you see they are in distress.

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