Floppy children?

Movement is the most natural quality in children. It is a natural sign of life and children instinctively seek to exercise and coordinate their movements to do all these human things, like walking on 2 legs, using their hands and fingers, putting on shoes! When they make these physical efforts to achieve their goals, they begin a process of engagement and involvement that helps mind and body to work together in an act of will and concentration.

For some children, avoidance of physical effort is observed. Parents may begin to think that their children are lazy or clumsy. Again, I cannot stress it enough.- There is no lazy child! No one is born lazy! An avoidance of physical effort could however be caused by one of the many reasons including for example, lower/ poorer muscle tone. I name this as I begin to come across more and more children who display characteristics of such. Walking, speaking, sitting, crawling and all these skills take a little longer to develop in this apparently ‘floppy’ child. The extreme case of this is observed in a condition called Hypotonia.

In a Montessorian environment, all children are supported along their individual developmental pathways and one of the guiding principles of any Montessori practitioner is having faith in the natural tendencies and instincts of children; that they seek to develop human language, movement and behaviour.

In practice, it is a little more specific than that. Most parents enjoy talking to their child, letting him run in circles in the park and bringing him to parties in the neighbourhood. – Those are wonderful things to do! It is useful to also consider a little structure. To consider that he is already able to move but is now working to co-ordinate movements large and small. This requires experience of balancing and walking, of feeling and carrying things of different textures and weight. Be prepared for pram-free days and more frequent stops or maybe just simpler itineraries? Perhaps it’s time to throw out the old sippy cup and let your child feel the weight and value of a glass of water? Perhaps even experience breaking a glass so they know how better to hold it next time? Perhaps carry a little of their own shopping?

To consider that he already has a voice and will absorb any word or phrase given so what draws him is interesting language and words, like ‘tintinnabulation‘! and being listened to. A great teacher-friend of mine posted on Facebook recently to listen to the small things when your child is young if you want them to tell you the big things when they are older because to them, it has always been a big thing. To consider also that human behaviour is so varied and colourful that it is important to introduce manners and values of importance to your family and culture through modelling and supported participation, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, putting away one’s own shoes when one comes home even as young as a year old because carrying a pair of shoes really doesn’t take that much…and because if you put in the hard work in these early years, the tantrums don’t have to come.


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