I’d like to offer an observation that has continued to touch me again and again over the years, and that has become a guiding principle in all my interactions with children, and also with the creation of our company’s play products. This observation is related to the way babies and young children take in impressions, and how they process and organize these impressions in their own domain.
It seems that young children live in what a body therapist has referred to as “body time”, and as a result, seem to need a lot of extra time and acknowledgment in order to be nourished by all the colors, textures, scents, tastes, sounds, and movements that their bodies and emotions are discovering. “Body time” I believe indicates that young children experience their body sensations quite fully, and their emotions quite deeply, and that “time” for them, if allowed, is a more expanded experience. Since a young child’s processing happens primarily through the sensations of the body, and in a very physical way, we can nourish each child’s natural “body time” rhythm by giving more time for impressions to be absorbed as they occur.
In my teaching and performing, I have developed a practice of trying to slow down just a bit when I am interacting with children, and to try in that slowing down to come into a more natural “body rhythm” so I can become a better anchor in the relationship. This means that I accept that “body time” with children will feel a lot slower than “time” as I know it as an adult, and in trying to slow down in this way, I can help to allow each child’s natural tempo to be the guiding principle in my interactions.
Some tips that I’ve learned in “body time”!
• Try and make eye contact when interacting, and be at the height of the child
• Try and articulate words carefully, and use as few words as possible
• Try and be sensitive to the tone and volume of each spoken interaction
• Try and use both verbal and physical cuing prior to and following transitions
• Try and allow lots of extra time for processing and response
• Try and use descriptive statements to identify actions
• Try and use lots of repetition, as well as appropriate new challenges
Look for our next theme: How to play “Pat the Ball” at home!