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You may wonder what body awareness is. You may also be concerned when you see your child being too clumsy or not moving in a coordinated manner. Poor body awareness in a 14-month-old child can reveal itself through many symptoms. Know what they are and what you can do.
Most of us are aware of our bodies and how we move about in a space. As a child grows, he learns to do the same. Yet for some children, this perception doesn’t develop properly and makes it difficult to learn new tasks and to do things. If not dealt with early on, they can face embarrassment when trying to perform simple activities.
Understanding What Is Body Awareness in Toddlers
Proprioception or body awareness is the understanding of where our bodies are and how to move. It’s the internal sense that tells us where our body parts are without having to look at them or touch them. This awareness is a combination of sensory systems such as the unconscious input we receive from receptors in the joints, muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue. Children who have poor proprioception have difficulty learning new tasks. They’re not quite sure where their body parts are at a given time unless they look.
Signs of Poor Body Awareness in Toddlers
- Difficulty in judging distances and spaces and orienting the body. For example, attempting to fit the body into a space that’s too small
- Using too much or too little force on things. For instance, a child with poor body awareness breaks toys frequently, and may write too light or too dark
- May look at body parts frequently to ascertain where they are
- Frequently sliding off chairs
- Clumsiness and moving stiffly, because they don’t realise where their own feet are
- Prefers to be in a small enclosed places rather than open spaces. Toddlers with poor body awareness feel more secure in small spaces rather than open areas
- Children having poor body awareness don’t usually like the dark since they rely on their sight to know where they are
- They have a hard time learning new gross motor activities because gross motor activities rely on the input children get from their muscles and joints
Therapy for Children with Poor Body Awareness
One way to help children with poor body awareness is to consult an occupational therapist. They work hand-in-hand with parents and teachers to formulate suitable activities. Exercises that work on judging distance and placement such as throwing balls into hoops or over lines are helpful for such children. Obstacle courses are also good therapy as they require coordination and confidence. They also help improve muscle tone, gross motor functions, and proprioception.
Doing simple tasks such as walking down the stairs or playing tag with friends can become embarrassing for children with poor body awareness. They shy away from taking part in games and other social activities because of their clumsiness. Giving them visual cues to help learn new activities, or breaking down bigger tasks into simpler ones till they get the hang of it, makes it a lot easier for them to cope.