Poor body awareness can often go hand-in-hand with asynchronous development. Things that seem simple to typically developing peers can be a struggle for those who are differently wired, causing confusion for those around them. Things that seem obvious and simple to most of us, often confound kids living with asynchronous development.
- Anxiety and clingy-ness – not knowing where your body is in relation to others and the environment is stressful!
- An inability to complete daily living tasks that might seem to simple to others – it’s hard to feed the pet when you can’t judge how far your body is from the food bowl.
- Emotional overwhelm and outbursts at the slightest provocation – perceiving and interpreting body signals is the first step to determining what you are feeling.
- Chronic tenseness (or the flip-side, floppiness) – lack of discernment over signals of safety and danger can put your child on either high-alert or complete shut-down.
The good news is, with practice and consistent input, your child can build her sense of body awareness. Some activities that help develop body awareness:
- Play, especially outdoors – large movements, negotiating unpredictable surfaces, self-discovery of what feels good are all powerful components of body awareness
- Interacting with others – think about when someone sits too close or plays too rough
- Mindfulness games – activities such as frog jumps and butterfly body scans are great ways to orient your child to his body
- Exploring textures – textures often evoke a sense of comfort or revulsion. Exploring a few different textures not only brings awareness to the tactile sense, but also gives your kiddo a chance to experience an emotional reaction and name it.
- Breathwork – bringing attention to breath coming in and out of the body, exploring where your body expands and contracts, noticing what it’s like to hold your breath for a moment
- Yoga – great practice for following directions and organizing your body in space.
- Painting – holding the brush, dipping into the paint, drawing the brush across the paper with the right amount of pressure
- Clay – great for working with pressure
- Glue – squeezing a bottle with the right amount of pressure or pushing a glue stick with the right amount of pressure
- Stickers – fine motor skill of getting it off the sheet, tactile sensation of stickiness, organized movement to get it on the paper and sticking it with the right amount of pressure
Bonus tip: Make sure to check in with YOUR own body frequently, and give it what it wants! Here’s a helpful post to get you started.
A crucial key to all of these activities is input and support from you! In a sense, you’ll become your child’s brain while he’s developing the skills. This can be accomplished through simply talking out loud while your child is having an experience. For example, “What are you noticing?” or “I see your belly getting bigger when you take a big breath. What does that feel like for you?”
While your child might not yet have a strong sense of body awareness, with exposure and a bit of coaching from you, you’ll be on your way to greater emotional regulation and well-being.