Developing body awareness can sometimes be a challenge for children
Picture a preschool-age classroom. Does chaos come to mind? Most children at this age are always on the move. Playtime is more than just fun and games; it’s an opportunity for children to learn. And one way that children learn about their sense of physical self is by moving, touching, running, and playing.
Not only are they developing a sense of their physicality and presence, but they are also absorbing a huge amount of data from their environment and surroundings. Learning body awareness – that is, the ability to understand our bodies and movements – is an important part of feeling like we fit into this world.
When a child is struggling to develop body awareness, they may feel disconnected from the world around them. Maybe they give intense focus on gross motor skills like walking, staring at their feet as they move. Or, maybe they put all their might into concentrating on their writing, gripping the pencil so hard that it breaks.
Fortunately, there are some ways that you can work with your child to develop a stronger sense of body awareness. Here’s what you need to know.
What is body awareness?
Body awareness is the phrase used to describe a person’s objective understanding of their physical self. How our bodies fit into space, how our bodies move. For example, if you reach out your hand for the glass of water sitting on your desk, your brain tells you how far you should reach for that object in order to grasp it.
Body awareness is something we develop during early childhood. Most of us are so accustomed to the normal patterns of our bodies and space that we don’t think twice about moving around in a dark room or maintaining personal space boundaries with other people. We are intuitively aware of ourselves and how our bodies work.
Why is it important to help my child develop body awareness?
What happens when body awareness doesn’t develop at a typical rate? We don’t often think about the consequences of not having a strong sense of body awareness, but people who struggle with this can face a negative impact socially. Have you ever been at a party, chatting with someone who leans in a little too close, invading your personal space? You might start backing away slowly, maybe even unconsciously. You feel uncomfortable, awkward, and eventually find a way to slip out of the conversation.
Other examples might include struggling with gross motor skills, which can cause a person to be clumsy and uncoordinated. For children, these types of problems can impact their social relationships, isolate children from playing games with others, and even cause safety concerns.
Therefore, it is important for parents to work with children to help develop body awareness, especially if you notice that your child is not developing at a typical rate.
Tips and activities to practice together
Fortunately, there are a lot of ways that you can work together to increase your child’s physical sense of self. Here are a few games to try:
- Simon Says games require a child to jump, stomp, clap, and mirror
- Mirroring games where a child sees you perform and action (like touching your nose) and copies it
- Singing and dancing, especially when the song is accompanied by specific movements like “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”
- Arranging and rearranging blocks, Play-Doh, or other similar games
- Imitating animal sounds
All these activities require children to become aware of their bodies as they create, move, dance, and speak. These functions are important for helping children understand spatial awareness, linguistic awareness, personal space, and sensory interpretation.
Children learn through play. When a child lacks a strong sense of body awareness, parents can help by playing together in a way that increases exposure to triggers that will help the child absorb the concepts of their physical space.
For example, creating the letter “A” with Play-Doh requires the child to use their hands and fingers to mold the Play-Doh into the proper shape. This will help them understand texture, shape, and space.
Similarly, mirroring movements in a song or dance helps children see firsthand how their bodies move and take up space, which increases their spatial awareness. It can also help children develop muscle tone, which is important for developing the gracefulness necessary to run, walk, jump, and dance.
You can make learning body awareness fun and enjoyable by playing games together that require children to move about and experience their bodies as they play.
Creating a customized plan just for you
At Lumiere Children’s Therapy, we work one-on-one with each family to develop a custom treatment plan to reveal each child’s dynamic potential. If you notice that your child is struggling with body awareness, you may benefit from therapeutic intervention. A few common symptoms might include:
- Watches feet when running
- Cannot play games with mirror movements
- Moves awkwardly or avoids physical activity
- Afraid of the dark or even closing their eyes
Our assessments involve a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, assigned as part of a personalized team for your child. Together, we collaborate with you to create a therapeutic plan that includes all the areas of development your child needs to become strong and successful.
We offer speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, developmental therapy, social work/behavioral therapy, and physical therapy. We strive to provide a nurturing and loving environment where your child’s needs can be met with the utmost care and attention.
Contact us to learn more about how we can assist you and your family today.