“When working with young children, dance/movement allows for an environment that is simultaneously structured and freeing” (Integrating Expressive Arts and Play Therapy with Children and Adolescents, 2014).
As we know, children are incredible and have their own way of thinking and being in the world. They use their senses to experience the world around them and are looking to us, the adults, for the answers. In their everyday lives, they are receiving guidance to stay safe and do what they need to do to survive and thrive. Children need both structure and freedom. Structure provides children with boundaries to help them feel safe, secure, and supported. While, they also need freedom to think, feel, and be how they are in order to develop a solid sense of who they are.
We as human beings are complex and have a body that navigates our day to day interactions. Yet, we are not as connected as we used to be. As much as we try, our phones and busy lives keep us detached from our bodies. In many spiritual teachings, the body-mind connection is found to be extremely important to our health. Being present in the moment, focusing on our breath, and listening to our body, is the ultimate goal for many of us. However, it is challenging to stop and do this while we have to go to work, pick our kids up from school, take them to school, pay rent, clean our homes, and so on and so forth. The big question is: How do we make time to be present in our bodies, present with our children, and teach our children to be present with themselves?
Dance and movement is a fun, easy, and can be a free way to do exactly this. We may think of dance as a structured activity with choreographed movements, ballet slippers and a tutu. Although this is a great activity for children who love dance, this is not the only way. Children are very capable of meditating, breathing, and being in their own bodies. Yet, like many things, they need to experience it to learn it.
Have you ever turned the music on at home and have an unscheduled dance party with your child(ren) or spouse or lets face it, just you? This is a perfect, easy, and fun way to get into our bodies, let loose, and connect to yourself and to your child. By dancing freely and creatively, you are allowing your body to relax, unwind, and literally move things around in your system. We hold our tension and stress inside our shoulders, necks, bones, cells, and everywhere in between. Dancing, breathing, stretching, and shaking out to any music, helps relieve stress and calm the nervous system. Not only is this beneficial for you, but it is highly beneficial for your child. Dance helps children self-regulate, express their feelings, and get into touch with their bodies. By dancing with your child, you are able to connect to them on an equal level, letting them know you are on their side and that you see them for who they are. In addition, they get to see you relaxed and having fun, which puts them at ease. I invite you to try, once a week, putting any music on, whether it be Katy Perry or the Beatles, and dance freely with your child. You can wiggle every part of you, copy your child’s movements, and dance crazy together! Dancing is more than having fun, it is a way of letting go and of being in touch with your body. It allows your mind and body to connect, release, and integrate both sides of the brain. Give this to yourself and to your family. Dance towards love! If anything, I can assure you, you’ll have fun, and let’s face it, we all need more fun in our lives.
Love and positivity,
Rachael Singer, BA Child Adolescent Development, MS Dance/Movement Psychotherapy, Toddler Head teacher at Buckle My Shoe
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