Body awareness is something you might not hear a lot about, especially in children. Body awareness is something people think about when they exercise or do activities that require balance and coordination. However, there is another side to body awareness that is a bit more important when it comes to parenting and teaching children. Many people believe that children develop body awareness on their own, and while that’s true in some senses, encouraging and fostering that bodily awareness can not only help its natural development and progression, but also enhance its capabilities and teach your children how to best sense changes and sensations in the body.
Just like you may not know exactly what body awareness exactly entails, you may already be teaching your child all about body awareness without even realizing it. Everything from riding bikes to playing Simon says can increase body awareness and help grow that skill set. Even so, you might be still be wondering what the purpose of teaching body awareness to children is. Here are just a few of the reasons why you need to teach your children all about body awareness.
1. Body Autonomy
Body awareness is inherently tied to bodily autonomy, which is a highly important lesson that children need to learn and understand as they grow. Everyone has bodily autonomy, but certain social constructs don’t give children the respect of the assumption of that right. Bodily autonomy is essentially the power to control one’s own body, which means being able to decide who can touch you, what your boundaries are and trusting your intuition. But without an awareness of one’s body, those decisions can become a lot harder or even inaccessible to some. By being keenly aware of the sensations and functions of their bodies, your children will be able to set more informed boundaries and truly practice bodily autonomy.
The concept of proprioception isn’t just about body awareness, but about the sensory experience of existing. Essentially, proprioception is a sense, just like the other five senses that color the human experience. Again, this plays into body awareness in a very important way. It’s the sense of body awareness — of knowing where you are in space and understanding how to navigate with it. Not only is this important to enjoy and understand the human body, but also in order to have things like stability and equilibrium.
3. Sensory Perception
Much like proprioception, being able to have the body awareness to perceive all of the senses to the best of your ability is an important part of life and human function. Being able to see, hear, smell, taste and touch — as well as the ability to maintain an acute awareness of those experiences — are all things that can help with brain development and understanding the surrounding environment. Of course, everyone has a different sensory experience and no two people are exactly alike, but teaching your child how to maintain that awareness can help a lot.
Another reason why body awareness is so crucial to kids is the ability to use it for movement and exercise. So many activities that involve movement, coordination and body sensations rely heavily on bodily awareness. Similarly, practicing movement activities can also help to develop a sense of body awareness, especially in kids. Essentially, it’s a two-way street that can benefit your child and benefit from its own practice. Plus, you can lean into whatever your child naturally enjoys doing to both build body awareness and use it to its fullest potential after some practice.
5. Brain Development
Of course, brain development is also a factor here. While body awareness certainly plays an important role in the understanding of the body itself, the connection between the body and the mind is undeniable. When you teach your child to be aware of their own body, they connect that in their mind and create more overall awareness, and this continues throughout every age progression, even up to kindergarten ages. Just like any other activity that gives your child the space to explore new ideas and understand themselves in a deeper way, the stimulation of learning body awareness can help with brain development.
Teaching Children Body Awareness
There are so many great reasons to teach your child to be aware of their body, from the understanding of bodily autonomy to the movement and brain development practices that it can help pave the way for, the awareness of the body is about so much more than even equilibrium and sensory experience — though those things are a part of body awareness, too. Kids need all kinds of stimulation in order to grow up healthy, and this just happens to be one of them. What body awareness practices do you try to teach your kids regularly?