“Mommy, Mommy…” (Rafael, age 4)
Rafael, didn’t have to do much to create an immediate barrier between himself and others. The moment he met someone, he would turn away, put his hands over his ears and call out for his mother. His mother either physically became the barrier to withhold others from getting close to her son or she would tell her son he was overreacting and to stop being upset.
While, I am aware of the intricate details of Rafael and many children like him…what I want to share is about breaking down the barriers by using movement to unlock what, ultimately, Rafael was seeking – He truly wanted to connect but he didn’t know how.
When I walked into the room, I communicated my intentions. I acknowledged the length of time we had together and I told Rafael where he was (On his hospital chair), and where I was in the room. With permission, I stepped closer to his feet. He made a smirk and kicked his toes. I (Playfully) flew myself across the room and communicated that his toes had told me what direction to go. I played with the theme of reciprocity – a dance of moving forward and away.
By giving Rafael control (acknowledging his nonverbal communication), he could decide when to be close or apart from me. We then expanded the movement by adding sounds and then words. He was able to articulate his needs clearly and in relation to what he actually wanted. I even modeled with his mother how to communicate preferences without an upset. We all realized we had so many options.
Most importantly, Rafael started to share in laughing, increasing his movement range and using words to share what made him comfortable. He had a range of options instead of a barrier. His mother communicated it was the most verbal she had seen him and the most relaxed with another person.
This simple movement exchange shed light on his relational patterns of pushing others away, and yet creating a dynamic in which he did not know how to bring them back. He learned how to ask for more time, how much space he needed for new interactions and those he was more familiar with. His interaction preferences were not taken for granted.
When a child presents a pattern of repeated movements in their relationships, the child may feel stuck. I join the child’s movement phrase and pattern, and then with acceptance, I create change in the speed, the position, and direction of the movement. Ultimately, the interaction brings more variety and options for supporting flexibility, connection and increased communication.
Everyday, I work with children of all ages and their families to support their communication styles, movement choices, and beautiful connections! For more ways to learn how to embody parenting and support your child through life, Email me at email@example.com.
Please Note: These stories are based on real moments but all names, ages, and identifying information has been changed to ensure confidentiality and safety for all individuals involved. The events are a composite of related scenarios used to illustrate the work; bringing understanding to the benefits of supporting children through a mind/body connection.