“The mind and body are not separate. What affects one, affects the other.”
Traditionally, kids’ development are categorized into 5 main areas and experts measure whether a child is developing healthily via these 5 parameters:
Social and emotional development
Speech and language development
Fine motor skill development
Gross motor skill development
While this system helps to set up clear developmental milestones and guidelines for parents and developmental paediatrician to follow, it talks about these 5 areas as if they operate independently of each other. Indeed, they do not.
Our mind and body actually affect each other inevitably and inescapably. Proper brain function is dependent upon early motor development (Gabbard 1998). The period from two to six years old appears to be particularly critical to a child’s motor development which will ultimately impact cognition.
Boring facts and technical terms aside, the mind-body interaction are actually happening every day to everyone. Here are few examples to illustrate this:
1. Recall the very last time your kid throw a tantrum. What was his / her facial expression? What about the body posture? How he / she spoke? What state was he / she in – happy & excited, or sad & angry?
2. Another fun example to demonstrate how our body and mind are interconnected is from this ‘Angry Birds Movie’ making of. Pay attention to the facial expression and body language of the voice over talents to see how they are using the body to tune themselves into the states of those little cute birds.
3. Try it yourself – find an uncomfortable chair and sit on it. Close your arms and body, make a frown and think of a happy moment you have had with your kid.
Then, find a comfortable chair or sofa. Sit with an open posture – arms apart, body relaxed, and make a happy face as if you’ve just heard of a funny joke. Now think of a happy moment you have had with your kid.
Do you find it easier to recall the happy memory while you’ve having a closed (negative) body or an open (positive) one?
How to apply it to our kids?
Now we know that mind and body functions as a cybernetic whole, it’s time to talk about the application on our kids.
1. Change negative states into positive ones
The use of our mind & body posture in an intended way can change our state instantly.
Stand up straight, puff out your chest and look a little up and to the side.
Imagine you’re like a superman / superwoman.
Imagine you’re three inches taller.
Do you feel the power?
Do you feel more confident?
This method works really well when you kid needs an immediate confidence boost.
Or when he / she doesn’t feel like studying.
Or when your kid is a little down or upset.
Now you don’t have to limit to only telling a story or a joke to cheer your kid up. You can actually suggest some activities that he / she has to change the body posture to an open one, activities like ‘pretend play’ (let’s pretend we are superheroes!), stretching, outdoor play…anything you can think of, to change the state of your kid instantly.
2. Boosting of learning ability
Traditional learning methods like reading mainly use the brain. It works well on kids who are strong in visualisation, but not on those who are more kinesthetics. For better learning result, always top up the ‘brain learning’ with ‘body learning’.
3. Keep well-being of kids
Our health is not only a result of how well we eat and rest, it also reflects how happy we are. Our body responds to the way we think & feel. Negative feelings can upset the body’s hormone balance and can damage the immune system, making us more likely to get colds and other infections.
To help our kids stay positive, it’s important that we help them express their feelings in appropriate ways. We should encourage our kids to share anything they’re unhappy about and to reinforce the fact that we are always by their side. We can also introduce different relaxing methods such as meditations, listening to calming music or even self-hypnosis. Check out kids appropriate relaxing methods here:
I believe our kids are the key to the future of the world and, as parents, we have a lot of influence while our children are still learning and growing. We set ourselves as our kids’ role models. Consciously and unconsciously, we pass on to them what we know, what we believe, and what we value. This is why partnering with parents in teaching life lessons and soft skills to get kids prepared for the world has become my key purpose in life. I hope that through my experience in teaching communications in university and in NLP training and coaching, I’ll be able to equip you with more tangible methods so that you can be your children’s life teacher, too!
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