5 ways movement helps your child grow | NPNparents.org
Written by: Erica Hornthal
Photo credit: Lance Shields/Flickr
As a dance/movement therapist and founder and CEO of Chicago Dance Therapy, I have seen the benefits of movement in children's growth and development firsthand. Here are five ways movement is not only beneficial, but necessary for kids, especially those with developmental differences.
Secure attachments are developing the moment our children are born and perhaps even before they enter the world. Prenatal yoga, skin-to-skin contact, a nurturing touch and a gentle hug, are all ways in which movement enhances the attachments we create with our children. Movement allows us to empathize, validate and support our children as they grow and develop.
Movement in infancy has been linked to neurological change and an enhanced ability to learn. It also plays an important role in the development of executive functioning. Many of us are familiar with the importance placed on tummy time. This develops neck muscles, core support, early identity formation, as well as the development of sensory processing.
Body language is universally spoken and present before birth. Our children can have developmental and cognitive differences, but can still manage to express themselves through movement. Movement is vitally important for non-verbal communication. The ability to express emotions and feelings through the body and mind make for more grounded and adaptable children.
Eye contact is one of the most basic movements we can instill in our children. The use of technology has played a role in enabling our children to not make appropriate eye contact, which negatively affects social skills. Making eye contact shows that we are invested and engaged in others and therefore encourages social interaction.
Movement not only creates greater awareness of one’s own spatial relations, but also facilitates empathy toward peers. To recognize others' movements and emotions means we can raise more compassionate and considerate children.
Dance/movement therapy is not about a formal stylized form of dance or choreography, but rather learning to move our inner thoughts, desires and emotions. Movement is beneficial for our physical and emotional wellbeing.