Body awareness is often talked about like a skill that you have or you don’t — but did you know that you can teach your children body awareness so they develop it over time? In fact, you should teach your children body awareness so they can develop all kinds of skills along the way, from emotional development to movement skills and proprioception. Often, the means of teaching kids about their body awareness uses the skills that it helps to develop, and therefore creates a productive cycle of learning.
It’s never too early or too late to start teaching your child about body awareness. While you can start in the younger years, you can start with age appropriate skills at any time! Of course, every child is different, and their different learning styles will likely contribute to the way they learn about body awareness, like anything else. There are so many different ways to teach your children about body awareness, and you can try out different techniques until you find the right one for your family. Here are a few ways you can start teaching your child about body awareness.
1. Teaching Autonomy
Body autonomy is one of the most important new skills that parents are teaching their children, and it shows. The principle of bodily autonomy hinges on the ability to control one’s own body, even from a very young age. Not only can this work to provide a sense of body awareness and control, but it can also help with boundaries and interpersonal skills as your child grows. It is your child’s decision whether or not someone touches them and what they feel comfortable with — even if that means they disagree with you. That’s the point of autonomy.
2. Utilizing Autonomy
While the principle of autonomy is fantastic, you need to put that talk into action in order for it to manifest as body awareness and utilization of the skills themselves. This means allowing your children to have control over their bodies — which can involve refusing physical contact from anyone, picking out their own clothes and setting the boundaries that they need in order to fel comfortable.
Another way to teach children about body awareness is through the sense of proprioception. While proprioception may sound like a fancy new term, it’s simply a part of the sensory experience, just like the other five senses of see, smell, hear, touch and taste. Essentially, it’s the sense of knowing where you are in space and being able to navigate your surroundings, which is an important skill to learn from childhood in order to develop balance and directional skills. It is the sense of body awareness, and developing it can help your child develop it into other skills in the future.
4. Using Movement
Movement is a great way to help your children develop body awareness, even when they don’t quite know what that is yet. When kids are little, this might mean things like tummy time with toys or games, or when they get a little bit older it could mean activities like music and dance classes, or even kids’ yoga. When your children learn to move around and develop a keen understanding of their body in relation to the world around them, their body awareness will develop alongside that.
5. Using Stillness
First, you tell us to use movement, then you tell us to use stillness? Yes, you read that right. You can also use stillness to teach your children body awareness. In fact, a combination of both movement and stillness practices can have a great impact on your child and their varied life experience. Specifically, techniques like mindfulness and meditation can be extremely effective for children, as meditation is all about calming down and finding stillness in small moments, and mindfulness is about noticing the sensations around you and taking in the experience of being in your body — there are even mindfulness techniques designed specifically for kids!
6. Monitoring Sensory Perception
While this tip is more about ensuring that your child is developing along with mile markers, you should still pay a bit of extra attention to it if body awareness is a priority. Make sure your child can see, hear and navigate their surroundings in accordance with their developmental age, as it’s important to help them find assistance if they can’t. The sooner a child who needs glasses gets them, the better their experience of the world will be.
7. Use Games
This is one of the most fun tips, because it’s so easy to incorporate into your life at home! There are so many games you may not know increase body awareness, but you can turn to them for a bit of extra support as you try to build it. Classics like Simon Says, Red Rover and hide and seek all aid in body awareness development in their own ways.
Teaching Your Kids Body Awareness
Body awareness is an important skill to develop, and doing it from a young age can be a great way to make the most of it. From the movement skills you utilize to the stillness skills you try, paying attention to your child’s development shows how much you care.