Body awareness is a child’s ability to know where their body is in space and how it moves. Children who struggle with body awareness may appear clumsy, or uncoordinated, and may sometimes be described as ‘dare devils’. Signs that you can see or experience include:
·observing their body while moving
·chewing on their clothes
·wanting to give/get bear hugs
·always being on the move
·not liking to close their eyes
·preferring to avoid physical activity
·pushing too hard while writing
So, what does this have to do with safety month?! Simply put, we can’t be safe without having body awareness!
Safety concern 1: If children are not sure where their body is in space, they may want to crash into things. This helps them figure out where their body is and may include crashing into walls, furniture and more. It often seems as if they are always running! Constantly being on the go is a safety concern in itself by simply increasing the chances to trip, fall, or hurt themselves.
Safety concern 2: Children with less body awareness tend to focus less because they are looking for that input that tells them where their body is. Because of this, they may jump or climb over objects in an unsafe manner, go into the street without looking, or run/crash into objects and people that could hurt them.
Safety concern 3: When children with less body awareness do focus, they often need to focus intently on even the simplest of tasks to successfully complete them. This can even include watching their feet while running! And whenever we are extremely focused on something, we tend to tune out other sights and sounds. So they may not hear someone yelling a warning call or other safety messages.
So, how can we help a child figure out where their body is in space while still being safe? Here are some ideas:
·Give them large pillows to crash into
·Play games/songs that incorporate identifying body parts: Simon says; Head Shoulders, Knees & Toes; The Hokey Pokey
·Do yoga together
·Play games and activities with spatial awareness added (i.e. over/under, in front/behind, around/through)
·Sing/acting out ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’ song
·Walk like animals (bear, snake, frog, etc.)
·Do balance activities: walk over pillows or other unstable surfaces, stand on one leg
·Play mirror/shadow/mimicking activities (child moves left arm-you move right arm, similar to mirroring/then reverse and have child mirror your movements)