“Miss, when I listened to my feet, they said they were happy that I took such good care of them.”
What is body awareness?
Before giving 12 reasons why it is important to stimulate body awareness among children, I first want to share a little more about what body awareness actually is.
The definition that I use during training is:
Body awareness is the conscious perception and understanding of one’s own body, corresponding to the bodily sensations one feels.
Body awareness is the awareness that you have a body that consists of different body parts, organs, tissues, cells and all of them having different visual characteristics. And it goes beyond that, it also covers the awareness of your posture, where your body is in space (spatial awareness), how you move, your movement capabilities and the awareness of the physical sensations in your body. With well-developed body awareness, you are able to listen to the signals from your body. You can understand the language of your body and become aware of how you are doing physically, emotionally and mentally. Body awareness makes it possible to make choices that serve your health and well-being.
Why is promoting body awareness important for a child’s development?
Here are 12 reasons:
1. The child creates a connection to the body and get’s in contact with the body.
When we stimulate body awareness, attention is shifted to the body and what is perceptible there. In this way, the child makes a conscious connection with the body. I call this “coming home” to the body, which is essential for the further development of body intelligence and self-awareness.
2. It stimulates the discovery of self and self-image.
Young children perceive the body as something separate from the self. By stimulating body awareness, children learn and experience that they form a unity with the body.
3. The child learns to understand the language of the body.
By stimulating body awareness, the child becomes aware of the physical sensations and learns to distinguish what feels good and what doesn’t feel good, and learns to discover the causes of discomfort and well-being.
4. The child learns to take care of the body.
When the child perceives the signals from the body and discovers the connection with choices made, the child learns that it can influence their own health and well-being.
5. The child learns to respect his own body.
When a child acquires knowledge about the body and acquires the concept about, among other things, anatomy and physiology, a more intimate relationship with the body is created. The appreciation and respect for one’s own body are thereby positively influenced. If the child understands and experiences the ways in which the body serves him/her and in what wonderful vehicle he/she lives, it often motivates the child to take good care of the body.
6. The child increases his movement vocabulary and movement skills (kinesthetic intelligence).
Body awareness stimulates the child to become aware of how it moves and teaches the child to move in a way that feels good and is good for the body, respecting its unique anatomy. It also stimulates curiosity about new possibilities for movement.
7. The child learns to use the innate wisdom of the body.
Body awareness teaches the child to tune into the innate wisdom of the body and thus use the body as a compass.
8. The child develops a positive relationship with the body which ensures a positive body image and self-esteem.
Body awareness ensures that the child becomes comfortable with his own body, which has a positive effect on self-esteem and body image.
9. The child learns to deal more effectively with stressful situations.
When the child is aware of the body, it can recognize and name the signals of stress earlier. In general, these signals are often only noticed when the tension/stress in the body has already risen considerably. Complaints such as heart palpitations, headaches, and stomach pain can then be felt. With greater body awareness, the child can name these alarms at an earlier stage and look for solutions, possibly together with the teacher, parent(s) / caregiver(s). This contributes to enhancing resilience.
10. It stimulates the child’s resilience.
Increased body awareness allows the child to feel its limits earlier and better. This makes it possible to communicate his/her boundaries and/or needs.
11. It stimulates the autonomy of the child.
The more the child learns to trust the wisdom of his/her body and take the perceived signals seriously, the easier it becomes for the child to follow its own course in life and thereby remain true to himself. This helps the child to sustain itself in an environment/society in which there are many external stimuli and expectations.
12. The child becomes aware of the connection between body, mind, and emotions.
Body awareness is essential to teach the child to experience the connection between body, mind, and emotions. It makes the child aware that certain physical signals can be related to emotions and these emotions are related to certain thoughts.
From this awareness, the child can learn that changing thoughts have a positive effect on his physical and emotional well-being. This promotes self-reliance.
“The lack of information about the human body in our years of education is surprising because it is our home for a lifetime.” – Andrea Olsen
It is clear that possessing body awareness is a very essential life skill, especially in the modern and challenging times in which we live. A time when our physical, emotional and mental health and well-being are at stake by the constant invitation of our society to perform and the overwhelming amount of external stimuli we have to process. This does not only apply to adults but certainly also to children. This is reflected in the increase in stress complaints, anxiety, and even burnout in our youth. Stimulating body awareness in children has always been important and I believe it is now even more important than ever! That is why I advocate that promoting body awareness should be a basic part of the primary education curriculum.
Would you like to start supporting children and help them improve body-awareness, self-awareness and self-worth? Become a certified teacher and sign-in for the Journey through the Body training or organize an incompany training for your team.