Why doing hard exercises in PT can backfire for your child with Developmental DelaysFeb 08, 2022
Ever struggle with watching your child do hard exercises in physical therapy and wonder if it's the right fit for your child?
This suddenly became very clear during one appointment with my daughter, where the therapist said:
"It's ok if she cries, we can still do the exercises".
Ummmm... are we fixing a car, or helping a complex nervous system learn new movement skills?
Let's break down what's happening in real life when we do something hard... we all "tense up" when a movement is too hard. Our muscles contract to help us "push" through it.
Think about opening up a pickle jar.
What parts of you tighten to open the jar? Probably some combination of your jaw, forehead, shoulders, your breath, your toes? Way more muscles tense and contract when it gets hard, than is actually needed to open the pickle jar. Repeat that amount of effort over and over, and it quickly becomes a habit of chronic contractions.
That moment when it gets hard... our brains STOP learning. We fall into our habitual pattern to push ourselves through.
Our children do this too! In fact, they are masters of this!
They push themselves through, to do whatever movement they think YOU want them to, because they see how invested you are in the "goal".
Our children want to make us happy.
EVEN ahead of keeping their own nervous system safe. They automatically TUNE out of their own body sensations to contort and push their body, just to see you smile and cheer for them.
If you've never witnessed this with your own child, do a quick scroll through YouTube for exercises for developmental delays (and watch the children's faces). Those hard core exercises people do TO their kids, might be building muscle strength, but at the cost of learning how to coordinate their own unique bodies.
Think about it.
Do you want your child to cope with hard core exercises by shutting down their own nervous systems?
And eventually hate therapy and people touching them... yes this happens. I see many kids come to my office afraid to be touched, because they associate therapy with pain and discomfort.
Do you want to nurture and build up your child's nervous system to trust their own bodies and be a really great learner?
The good news is that it doesn't have to be complicated.
Building a resilient, resourceful nervous system that's able to LEARN NEW skills can be as easy as changing a few things... like how you pick up your child after a diaper change, or out of the highchair.
Small changes in your own approach to helping your child reach their next milestone, can create HUGE changes for them.
Work WITH their nervous system, not fight against it.
These are the simple shifts in movements I guide you through inside the MindfullMovement Program.
Come learn just how easy and enjoyable it is, to support your child's own learning potential through slow, gentle movements.
See you inside!
xo Jen Stewart
Anat Baniel Method® practitioner
and mom of 3 (one with a rare genetic disorder)