These practices will form the core foundational skillset your child needs from you. Even though most of children’s development happens without you actually teaching them, such as growing in the womb, crawling and walking, there is an area of development that cannot happen without them being in relationship with you or another significant caregiver.
A healthy attachment and emotional intelligence are developed by nurturing connection with the body, and attunement to feelings and thoughts. This is the area of development that needs YOU and your modelling to fully wire up your child’s brain.
The embodiment practices are the skills to do this. They literally develop your child’s brain and help them have all those gorgeous inner qualities like empathy, confidence, flexibility and compassion . It helps them understand, know and like themselves which in turn enables them to build good relationships with others and have the capacity to pursue their passions and intellectual pursuits.
You may already be doing a lot of this with your child. These practices will help you go deeper and really ‘nail it’. The latest science tells us that we not only need to help our children with their thoughts and their feelings, but go that step further and help them with their body wisdom as well.
The three practices are: Body-fullness, Heart-fullness and Thought-fullness. I have created these names to capture the meaning in a way that is easy to learn and embody.
Part 1- Body-fullness
Notice what’s happening with your child. What is their body saying? What is it communicating?
Help them to notice by noticing yourself.
“You’re hiding away”
“You have a big frown on your face”
“I notice your fists are clenched”
“You have a big smile on your face”
“I notice your eyes are red and your body is jittery after so much screen time.”
Then after awhile your child will be able to do this naturally themselves with some practice.
They may say things like:
“I have butterflies in my tummy”
“I’ve got a lightness or balloon in my chest”
“My body wants to jump!”
Part 2 – Heart-fullness
Help your child notice how he or she is feeling. Make an empathic guess at what emotion they are experiencing?
“It looks like you’re sad”
“You’ve got big strong feelings.”
“Are you feeling angry about that?”
“I can see you feel left out”
or more generally: “You’re having a hard time.”
See if you can feel into his feelings and at the same time not lose your own sense of self. Your face and tone of voice will mirror his feeling back to him (that helps develop his brain).
Give him as sense that what he is feeling is ok. Say things like:
“It’s ok to have a big feeling like that. There is no such thing as good and bad emotions – they’re natural and ok. I can handle all your emotions. I am with you. I am bigger, stronger, wiser and kind.”
Part 3 – Thought-fullness
Connect with what he is thinking. You might ask or have an empathetic guess.
“Are you thinking you don’t’ want to play anymore? That you want to go home?”
“Are you thinking mummy won’t come back?”
Even in that pre-verbal first year or so it’s a good idea to start practicing at guessing what they’re thinking and saying it out loud, as it becomes increasingly important as they grow.
We do all three of these embodiment practices with your child to help them fully integrate their brain and enable them to be the best version of them selves. Best brain development is achieved by focussing on and linking up body, heart and thoughts. This means that they have greater access to developing their body intelligence, emotional intelligence and well as their mental intelligence. You are nurturing a multi-intelligent child!
Imagine your child growing up to be confident and aware of who they are, warm and compassionate in relationships, be able to pursue their intellectual passions with vigour, and have a strong body intuitive wisdom to be able to make healthy decisions.
There are so many applications and ways to use the embodiment practices depending on your child’s age, your own parenting style, and your child’s uniqueness. Play with it, and adapt it to your changing situation.
An example of a child who’s had a lot of screen time might be:
“I notice that your voice is high-pitched and your body is a bit jumpy. I wonder if you’re feeling irritable?”
Wait and see it they respond to your question. If they do, you might ask:
“I’m wondering if that extra screen time made you feel that way. What do you think?”
The three practices can be used in any order. Sometimes you’ll use one, and at other times all three.
Take it a bit further
You may like to introduce your child to the use of their breath to help her calm her body, mind and thoughts and bring herself (or himself) into the ‘now’ moment. It’s from this place that she can access her intuition, have authentic responses and make decisions aligned with her truth and understanding.
Show her how to put one hand on her belly and notice how her breath makes it rise and fall. She can put her other hand on her heart and be quieter, to sense and maybe even hear her heart beating.
To reinforce the embodiment practices, you can watch this short video.