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“No, I don’t want to play.” (Samantha, age 3.5)

Samantha held onto her Elsa doll without looking up. Elsa’s head, conversely, was looking up. I observed out loud, “Your head is looking down and you’re sitting very still while Elsa is looking up.” Samantha glanced at Elsa. I added, “You two are opposite each other.” Then, the movement began…

Samantha moved Elsa fast, and I noted that Samantha sat still and moved slowly. I told Samantha, “We will continue to move in opposites of Elsa. When you are ready, you may choose to do the same movements together.”

The opposites continued, both in movement speed and mood. Samantha frowned while Elsa smiled. Samantha responded to each of my narrations with movements.  She was deliberate and communicative. In other words, she was playing! As she and Elsa became quicker in their rhythm and their heads faced each other, she reached out and handed me the doll. She asked me to move with her. I took Elsa and followed Samantha’s movements in the same way, at the same time.

By giving space to stay with her resistance and provide permission to follow her emotional needs with movement and observation the child can feel compassion from the interaction and for herself. She is accepted even in her worst moods and can make shifts on her own time. Compassion, trust and acceptance of all feelings are key to a loving connection.

Dance/Movement Therapy is a powerful and effective means to support communication for children who are struggling. Every day I work with children and their families to help them through some of their most difficult times. If you know of a child who could benefit please email me at therapy@drloribaudino.com or call 310-966-0700.

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.

Special Thank you to The Andréa Rizzo Foundation. Dreasdream.org

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