There are two sides to every story. The same applies to the human body.
Practically any movement we do, big or small, requires the left and right side to work together to stabilize and/or execute a motion. Even reading this post relies on such teamwork. Bilateral coordination (also known as bilateral integration) is the ability to simultaneously use both sides of the body. Like all developmental skills, this ability is gained through our own body awareness, experiences, and practice.
Remember playing Twister? Contorting your body to keep your hands and feet on specific colors without falling. This classic game utilizes a skill called motor planning – the ability to ideate, sequence, and execute movements to complete a task. Sounds easy, but this skill develops over time with body awareness, observation, and trial-and-error.
Yoga is simple enough that your child can do it.
Here’s some suggestions for your kid at any age.
By now, we’re all pretty familiar about the perks of yoga. It promotes our overall health and well-being, reduces stress, and helps us “find our center.” The practice has been trending in the past decade and schools have even implemented it to help guide children’s focus and self-regulation.
Research has shown positive outcomes from regular yoga practice, including:
- Increased attention, decreased hyperactivity, and faster task completion in 5-year-olds who completed yoga 2x/week
- Mental and emotional benefits in children ages 5-18 years, including decreased anxiety, boosted concentration and memory, improved confidence and self-esteem, and improved academic performance
- Brain scans revealing reduced activation of the amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for emotions and arousal levels) in 6th graders
- Improvements in attention as well as decreased oppositional behaviors, restlessness, and impulsivity following 20 sessions of yoga with boys diagnosed with ADHD
- Improvements in imitation and play with peers in children with ASD following 10 months of yoga 5 days/week
Sounds good on paper, but yoga with kids can be intimidating. “Am I doing this right? Can kids even do these poses?”
It’s not just a bunch of poses and breathing. Although that notion is partially true, there’s more to it. The goal of yoga is to grow self-awareness, connecting the mind and the body to the present moment. It’s because of this broadness that makes participation in its practice easy.
The first five years of your child’s life is bursting with curiosity, exploration, and…emotions. One moment, they’re happy and the next, they’re bawling their eyes out because you gave them the wrong color cup or because they can’t fit a square peg into a round hole.
In our past post about self-regulation, kids need to adjust their arousal levels to meet and manage the energy demands of their tasks throughout the day. This includes how to appropriately handle emotions.