Balance is one of the themes we’re exploring this year after noticing many childrens interest in physical balance practice. We have been observing balance in both a physical and emotional capacity. Observing the children physically cross a balance beam with chairs and stools balanced atop the beam makes me extremely nervous! To cope with that feeling and to ensure the childrens safety while still allowing them to work I often like to ask the children “does your body feel safe right now?” or “does that stool feel stable to you?” In deeper thought I realized that a child can also feel “unsafe” or “unstable” emotionally as well, and that they perhaps coincide to some degree. We’ve been investigating this connection between mind and body with the children.
As I look at JL feeling her weight on the beam and feeling where her body could move to feel balanced or safe, I can see her body is tense. She’s hunched over, and her body language is reading uncertainty. Her face is grimaced. Once she feels safe or balanced she is happy and her smile is exuding confidence.
JL trying to find her balance versus JL feeling balanced.
We can also see this juxtaposition when children who are unfamiliar with a teacher or new to this school and are hesitant or resistant at morning drop off. Often when a child is feeling unsure or nervous (again not feeling that emotional balance about drop off) their bodies tend to express those feelings as well. The child’s body will either be hunched over, looking down or face to the ceiling, back completely contorted. So, not standing balanced could mean not feeling balanced.
Equilibrium is something to strive for both physically and mentally. With that, I ask you try to challenge yourself and your children with new language when your child’s body is manifesting their emotional feelings, and see how they respond.
A parent might ask: “Are you feeling a bit unstable today?” instead of upset, anxious, scared or nervous.