Ever wonder what the key to calmness in kids is?
One hint: It involves the one thing kids love to do.
Seriously, it really is that simple!
Movement, or even better, ‘heavy work’ movement, can be the key to calmness in a kid!
What is heavy work?
Have you ever heard the term ‘heavy work’ being used?
If you’ve ever worked with a pediatric occupational therapist you probably have!
If you haven’t, no worries!
Heavy work is a term used regarding different activities that are designed to engage the proprioceptive system. Heavy work provides us with proprioceptive input.
Okay, hold up, what the heck is the proprioceptive system?
What is the Proprioceptive System?
Proprioception is actually one of the body’s senses. It helps us understand how much force our body is using to complete a task. Plus, it provides feedback on how to regulate that force. Meaning, do we need more or less force to complete a task? We activitate the proprioceptive system anytime there is a push or a pull on our joints.
It’s also a key component in helping us (and kids!) stay focused, alert and able to complete everyday tasks.
Why Do We Need Proprioceptive Input?
While most of us can function with just our normal everyday activities providing us enough proprioceptive input, at times some of us need a little extra. As mentioned above, this helps us stay organized and use our bodies appropriately.
Sometimes Proprioceptive Systems Aren’t Functioning Appropriately
Before we go on, step back for a moment and imagine your body. Now imagine not understanding how your body is moving. Feeling like you don’t have control over multiple aspects of your body. Or even understanding what certain parts of your body are doing.
Let’s Look at an Example
You go to write your name on a piece of paper. The second your pencil hits the paper, it breaks. Plus, you’ve put a huge hole in the paper. Seems like you’re probably writing too hard.
Attempting the task over and over again, you seem to keep finding yourself in the same predicament.
What in the world could be the problem?
Well, your proprioceptive system might be off! The pencil that keeps breaking could be a sign that your body doesn’t understand how much force is necessary to complete a task.
Now take that simple task of writing and expand it to other activities. Activities such as opening and closing doors, getting dressed or giving someone a hug.
If you don’t know how much force to use for each of these activities, things might get a little wonky.
You’re probably thinking, well, just adjust the amount of force you’re using. It would be nice if it was that easy! For some individuals, it’s unfortunately not! The inability to regulate the force one’s body uses to complete tasks is the way of life for some people.
As you can tell, when the proprioceptive system isn’t functioning properly, simple tasks can be very difficult to complete!
Hip-Hip-Hooray for Heavy Work!
Thankfully, we have heavy work.
Why is heavy work so amazing?
First, heavy work is the key to engaging the proprioceptive system. It’s a type of proprioceptive input. It can help us to improve our body’s awareness.
Awareness of what the body is doing and how to focus on completing appropriate tasks at hand.
Finally, it helps with organizing and calming us so we can stay in the moment.
Disclaimer Against Heavy Work
It needs to be noted that every individual is different, in terms of how much heavy work they need in order to function during the day.
Therefore, it’s important to work with a doctor and occupational therapist in order to determine the appropriate amount necessary for you or your child’s life.
However, that being said, most heavy work activities involving kiddos is basically just ‘structured’ play.
And play, my friends, is a good thing!
Conclusion for the Magic Key for Calmness with Proprioceptive Input
In conclusion, proprioceptive input, by the way of heavy work, is a key for calmness and helping us get through our day-to-day. We need our proprioceptive system functioning properly in order to complete everyday tasks! Thankfully we can use heavy work to assist us in staying calm and regulating our bodies!
If you have any more questions regarding proprioception and heavy work, leave a comment below!