Psychomotricity for children, what it is and what it is used for

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Psychomotricity for children

Born in the sixties in France and spread in Del Paese since the eighties, the psychomotor skills it is now a discipline present in the life of children, both in school and education and for therapeutic purposes. But what is it exactly and what applications can it have? He talks to us about it Renata Nacinovich, Professor of Child Neuropsychiatry at the University of our city-Bicocca.

In this article

  • Psychomotricity: what does it mean
  • What is the use of psychomotor skills
  • Educational psychomotor skills and rehabilitative therapeutic psychomotor interventions
  • Psychomotor activities to do at home

Psychomotricity: what does it mean

«The word psychomotricity - the professor begins - contains the concept of movement with a purpose and with a planning. While movement was once thought of as a simple and mechanical fact, we now know that motor skills have complex elements and contribute to the emotional and cognitive development of the individual. We think of the movement of a newborn to touch the mother, or the first steps of a small child to go towards the parents: they express the intent to reach her and therefore they are not only a muscular exercise, but also have a relational aspect. Or to all the implicit calculations necessary for a child to adjust his movement in relation to the distance, shape and size of an object he wants to grasp, to calibrate a throw or to reach a place not immediately within his reach ». 

More generally we could say that psychomotor is the way of the child in the first years of life to know the world and relate to the environment. Through movement the child knows himself, the other, the world. The movement put in place for the pleasure of the relationship, the desire to do, the joy of exploring and experimenting will allow him to develop his potential in relation to the environment in a global and harmonious way.

We can say, in short, that the motor skills of a human being are in reality always also "psycho": this discipline only arranges courses and activities with this awareness at the center.

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What is the use of psychomotor skills

Especially in an age, the developmental one, in which the child develops the motor, emotional and cognitive areas at the same time, psychomotricity is therefore "an activity that favors the psychological maturation of the child through movement, play, creativity and interaction with each other. The child exists first of all through his body in relation to the other and his corporeality is often more expressive than his own verbal language. This is why acquiring awareness of one's own body in space and with respect to others, being masters of one's movements helps them to feel better about themselves ». It's not just about improving balance and coordination - it's about grow in self-esteem, in the relationship with peers, in communication.

Read also: Psychomotor development from 0 to 3 years: how to find the right stimuli

Educational psychomotor skills and rehabilitative therapeutic psychomotor interventions

On the basis of the fields of application, it is possible to broadly distinguish between psychomotricity with an educational purpose and psychomotorism with a therapeutic, habilitation and / or rehabilitation purpose.

  • La educational psychomotor skills it is the one that supports the physiological development of the child and is practiced in kindergarten and primary schools and through group courses offered by gyms and specialized centers. 
  • La therapeutic-rehabilitative psychomotor skills takes place within hospitals and rehabilitation centers. The work, carried out by the therapist, is usually individual (but small group activities are also possible), it can sometimes also involve the parents in the therapy room and / or often the entire family unit thanks to targeted "counseling" work. to an "ecological qualification" of the child in his daily life. 

La Educational psychomotricity is advisable for everyone, «Especially for shy, insecure or socializing children but also for lively, hyperactive or behavioral problems. Some will be able to acquire greater awareness and confidence in their own skills, the others will be able not only to download exuberance, anger and tension in the game, but also to improve the ability to concentrate, preparatory skills for all learning, especially school ones. In general, children then learn to face challenges and to deal with the desire to succeed and the fear of failure. In this way they discover that, with commitment and exercise, they can improve a lot even in the most difficult activity for them ».

For whom is psychomotor intervention with therapeutic - rehabilitative purposes indicated? In the presence of complex problems, psychomotor skills can be a valid help. "In the presence of developmental disorders, autism, disabilities or cognitive or learning delays, it may be useful to turn to more specific and personalized psychomotor paths, to carry out the overall development of all aspects of the child hand in hand and in the most harmonious way possible ".

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Psychomotor activities to do at home

Psychomotor paths are always offered in spaces specially equipped with cushions, carpets, mattresses, materials for disguises, objects of various shapes and sizes, tools for drawing and painting, building and manipulating, playing. However, it is also possible to carry out some simple psychomotor activities with your children at home, to spend good time together and do a useful and educational activity.

Psychomotricity for newborns

 "The very young child has a limited motor ability - said Dr. Nacinovich - but this does not mean that parents cannot begin to above all to stimulate his tactile and visual skills. For example, when he is on the changing table, hooking his gaze standing in front of him at 20-30 cm and moving slowly from one side and then the other, allow him to follow you with his gaze up to 180 degrees: this is a skill achieved full usually around 3 months. The accompaniment of the voice and any caresses on the face can make the symbol even more effective and emotionally significant.

If you want to propose the visual tracking of an object, initially prefer objects with contrasting colors such as black and white, which are better perceived by the newborn. And if we know very well that it is not recommended to make them sleep on their stomach for the first 6 months, let's put them in this position instead when they are awake: they will begin to exercise and strengthen the back muscles. Finally, to let them experience the first rolls and smears, often leave them free on a surface without dangers, like on the ground on a carpet ».

Psychomotor activity for children 0-3 years old

Each month that passes the child acquires more and more skills: «Always offer them a slightly more difficult stimulus: if you always put objects in their hands, they will not be forced to take them on their own, but if you place them too far out of reach, they won't even try. Then always motivate them also with your presence, adding that relational drive to make an extra effort. After game of the cuckoo (covering and uncovering your own face and then that of the child) to work on the permanence of the object you play by hiding things: at the beginning what they no longer see is no longer there, then they understand that it is there even if it is not you see it and they begin to go looking for him ». 
"Towards the 6 months, being able to stay seated, they begin to work on manipulation: the grasping that was previously only a conditioned reflex is now finalized and the child begins to refine the sensoriality on the different types of materials. Offer them many different tactile textures, but I recommend not making too many objects available to them at the same time so as not to induce them to become excessively distracted. The activity of the basket of treasures is perfect, which allows them to explore both their own body and the environment in its immediate vicinity ».

Psychomotricity for children 3 - 6 years

At this age, eye-manual coordination improves considerably: «If before the child limited himself to knocking down the tower of cubes, now he knows how to build it. Also in the game of joints, with simple round shapes, he now knows how to handle shapes with more edges, shapes of animals and known objects. You can play in the mirror, inviting him to replicate your movements, or to imitate animals: elephant, ant, turtle, shrimp, inviting him to do as they do: heavy, small and light, slow steps, or steps backwards ...

«Propose routes and treasure hunts, challenging him to balance or do the somersault; also introduce games with music and rhythm, alternating moments of movement and stillness or making, as soon as the music goes out, the "beautiful figurines". Always remember to "comment" on the things you are doing, because this, in addition to making the experience richer and more interesting, helps in the development of language. Instead, limit the use of tablets and smartphones as much as possible: they are minimal, repetitive and passive sensory stimuli that distance children from bodily experience, which we have said are fundamental for their development ".

The interviewee

Renata Nacinovich she is Professor of Child Neuropsychiatry at the University of our city-Bicocca.

Read also: Games for two-year-olds recommended by a psychomotor specialist

  • harmonic development of the child
  • child support therapies
  • 3-5 children years
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