Body Awareness is described as a person’s awareness of their body parts and knowing where their body is in a defined space. Body Awareness is important for children to learn to motor plan and coordinate their body parts through space and around objects in their environment.
Children with poor Body Awareness often appear uncoordinated or clumsy because they do not know where their body parts are. These children also have difficulty imitating movements, as they are unsure of where their body parts are and how to move them. New gross motor skills may be challenging for children with poor Body Awareness since they have difficulty processing proprioceptive input (the input we receive from our muscles and joints). Mirrors are tools for body awareness development and can be of assistance when learning new gross motor skills. Children visually compensate by using their vision to know where their body is in space.
When children with poor Body Awareness are asked to draw a picture of a person, they may exclude certain body parts or place in the incorrect location.
Body Awareness begins as early as 4-6 months; however as children grow, it is essential to help them become aware of their bodies. Occupational Therapists play an important role when working with children with poor Body Awareness by providing proprioceptive input, and carrying out gross and fine motor activities which incorporate posture, strength and dexterity. Below is a list of activities which help improve Body Awareness:
*Can adapt the above activities for younger children by not specifying right and left. Can have child imitate movements versus following verbal commands.
– Jan, Occupational Therapy Team