So, we have discussed over and over how important it is to approach a child through his or her BODY. This is vitally important as we deal with children who are pushing against the forms of the day – the “I won’t”s, “I can’t”s, “No”’s and “Make me”s (and yes, I have a child that typically falls into the last category, the “Yes, make me!”). We can approach it like a sledgehammer trying to blast through a piece of concrete or we can take our twenty, thirty or forty years of living and try a more imaginative, sideways approach!
If you would like some background regarding an anthroposophic approach to the first two and a half years of working with the body, please see this post:
If you need some guidelines regarding when children traditionally can do what from a gross motor perspective, please go back a few days in this series and look for the day on “Realistic Expectations”.
Working through the body most effectively combines gross motor movement with fantasy or imaginative elements. Moms ask how to do this all the time and all I can tell you is that is takes practice and experience. Set yourself a goal to try to address your child this way twice a day if you are new to this.
Here are a few examples to whet your appetite and stimulate your own thoughts of how to approach things:
Running in the house: “Excuse me, Mr. Race Car Driver, this is only the warm-up lane, not the racetrack! We go slow in this lane!” (and the corollary is the racetrack is outside, )
Not wanting to brush teeth: “But Ms. Crocodile, you must open your mouth so I can count all your beautiful teeth! Have you been eating bananas again?! Let me see!” (and you open your mouth so they can imitate you!)
Children with extreme cases of “the wiggles”: Turn it into a game where they are flamingos standing on one foot, humped camels, mice with tiny footsteps, wiggling worms on the floor.
Trying to get calm for bed: Be a caterpillar wrapped up in a cocoon of silk that must be rocked before it can come out as a butterfly.
Those are just a few ideas to get you going, submit your situation in the comment box and maybe all the wise mothers out there can also provide some ideas for you!
I think the other “arm” of this being in the body goes back to the twelve senses and what we are working on developing in the Early Years – those Lower Foundational Senses. Remember those? Here they are again in case you forgot (and remember those Middle Senses we are still trying to protect!)
The Lower Senses are seen in our will forces, they are unconscious, and they manifest in the metabolic-limbic system. These include:
The Sense of Touch – through the organ of the skin. This includes what is inside of me and what is outside of me. Important ways to boost this foundational sense include vaginal birth, swaddling, holding, positive tactile experiences (NOT PASSIVE experiences, like through media or Baby Einstein! Active experiences!) The lack of completion of this sense is strongly related to ADHD according to Daena Ross.
The Sense of Life or sometimes called The Sense of Well-Being – this encompasses such things as if you can tell if you are tired, thirsty, hungry. The best way to boost this sense is to provide your children with a rhythm to help support this while it is developing. Some children have great difficulty recognizing their own hunger or thirst cues, or their own need for rest or sleep. A rhythm can be a great therapeutic help in this regard.
The Sense of Self-Movement – this is probably more familiar to therapists in some ways as the “proprioceptive system” in some ways. This sense encompasses the ability to move and hold back movement, and can also encompass such sensory experiences as containment (which can be a form of massage for premature babies) and also swaddling. Childhood games that involve starting and stopping can also affect this sense.
The Sense of Balance – This is balance in two separate realms, from what I gather from the Daena Ross presentation. It is not only the ability to balance by use of the semicircular canals of the ears for midline balance so one can cross midline but also refers to the balance of life and being able to be centered, which again goes back to rhythm and the idea of in-breath and out-breath. Donna Simmons calls this one a gateway to The Middle Senses.
So ask yourself if the activities you are coming up with involve these senses in an appropriate way. One resource that may assist with this is Donna Simmons’ “Joyful Movement” book. It really is a good resource for common activities, verses, songs and movement to help you put all of this together. Here is the link:
So, for small children the Sense of Touch would include textures and natural fibers in the home and on the child, working with soil, sand, mud, sticks, and other sensory experiences for touch. The Sense of Life is really YOUR job for the child – get a rhythm going! It is important! The Sense of Self-Movement would include all those singing rhymes and games, gentle bouncing games, and experiences with practical life activities such as stirring, kneading, movement games, fine motor skills. The Sense of Balance is not only working toward more complex practical projects for the six-year-old, both gross and fine motor wise, but also working with the notion of BALANCE in your child. It is YOUR job to help your child balance. If your child wants to sit around and read all day and page through books, it is your job to structure the rhythm so this is not possible and that your child has increased opportunities for fun movement, being outside, learning to ride a bike, etc. If your child is active, active, go, go, go, it is YOUR job to set the rhythm so there are times for a candle lighting and a soft puppet show, times to sit and snuggle and hear a wonderful fairy tale, times to be calm and centered. This is what parenting is all about.
Love to all,