Proprioception/ Body Awareness

We all know about the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste but what if we told you there are actually two more?

It’s true! Alongside their five famous cousins are the vestibular sense (balance and movement) and proprioception (body awareness).

Proprioception or body awareness tells you the position of your body parts in relation to each other, without relying on your vision. Basically, it helps you to have smooth and coordinated movements.

For children, poor proprioception feels like trying to go about your everyday activities while using your non-dominant hand… that’s wearing a huge, oversized rubber glove.

Imagine trying to hold a fork or pencil effectively. Pretty awkward!

How do I know if my child is having difficulty with their proprioception (joint body awareness)?

Kids that are having difficulties with their proprioception (body awareness) may:

  • Appear clumsy and awkward
  • Seem lazy or lethargic
  • Bump into things often
  • Use boisterous movements or extreme force
  • Appear wriggly or wriggle a lot
  • Experience poor concentration (have trouble maintaining their attention on one task)

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Ways you can help your child with their proprioception (joint body awareness)

You can help little miss or mister develop their proprioception (body awareness) skills with these recommended activities:

  • Games and tasks that involve pushing and pulling (known as ‘heavy work’ activities)
  • Walking like animals that jump, crawl and creep (e.g. bunny and kangaroo hops, moving sideways like a crab)
  • Tug of war games
  • Climbing, swinging and hanging on playground equipment such as monkey bars
  • Rough and tumble games (e.g. wrestling on sofas and bean bags, pillow fights)
  • Dancing and doing actions to songs (e.g. songs that involve moving different body parts such as the hokey pokey, clapping songs)
  • Using playdough (e.g. making things by rolling, squeezing and pinching it)
  • Playing in a sandpit, including digging, carrying buckets of sand and pushing toy trucks through the sand
  • Squeezing water out of wet sponges and water toys
  • Rolling while lying in a blanket or shag pile rug
  • Lying tummy down on a large ball (e.g. exercise ball) and rolling over the whole body
  • Body squeezing (encouraging junior to give themselves a big hug by wrapping their arms around their body and squeezing each finger with the opposite hand)
  • Doing wheelbarrow walks (where you hold their legs so they walk on their hands in a plank position)
  • Catching and throwing sand, miniature bean bags and large beach balls
  • Trampolining
  • Pushing off a wall or moving across the floor with their hands or feet while lying down on a scooter-board or skateboard (i.e. a board on four wheels)
  • Doing yoga stretches

Some additional tips for improving your child’s proprioception (body awareness)

As kids with proprioceptive difficulties often struggle with everyday childhood activities such as group sport or sitting on the floor while their teacher reads, they may become ‘emotionally insecure’ or avoid typical play experiences.

Children who demonstrate this type of behaviour benefit greatly from being given more time and the opportunity for repetition while learning new skills, as well as lots of positive reinforcement and ‘thumbs up’.

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Combined Videos

Combining several foundation skills, our PlayBiz Play-a-Long videos run for 10 minutes or so. We’ve carefully ordered the activities so they enable your youngster to have an optimal learning experience and develop the skills they’ll need for school by joining in the ‘teachable moments’. Picture a fun and educational TV program like PlaySchool crossed with an occupational therapy session that’s chock full of strategies. Ready, steady, learn! Please note: The Play-a-Long videos don’t need to be viewed in any particular order.