What can I, as a caregiver, do to enhance my child’s interoception skills?
This is a question that we’ve been getting from parents a lot recently. And it is a great question. My number one piece of advice, is to use interoception talk.
What is Interoception Talk?
Interoception Talk is all about noticing the way your own body feels and label it out loud for your child.
*When I’m holding this glass of water, it makes my hands feel cold.
*When I run around outside with you, it makes my heart beat fast.
*When I step into the cold, it makes my muscles feel tight.
The brain of a child is like a little sponge soaking in lots of information about the world. Through interoception talk, your child will be exposed to the words that you use when describing the sensations noticed in your body. Your child will also learn how important the messages are coming from the body…after all, if you are taking the time to notice and describe your sensations time and time again, they must be important, right?!
As your child gets older, you can, in turn, start asking them questions that guide them to notice their own interoceptive sensations. For example,
*How do your arm muscles feel when you are hanging from the monkey bars?
*How does holding a cold glass of water make your hands feel?
*How do your feet feel when you are running around outside in the grass with bare feet?
There are so many rich opportunities in your daily routine—activities that you’re already doing– that you can embed into the interoception talk.
The Additional Benefit of Interoception Talk—There is Something in it for You Too!
Talking this interoception talk and labeling out loud the way your body feels is not only acting as a great role model for your child, but it has the side benefit of increasing your own interoceptive awareness.
Research shows that the more “in touch” we are as parents (and as adults) with our bodies, the healthier it is for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, it allows us to be present and to deal with anxiety and stress much more effectively. And boy, is parenting sometimes anxiety-producing and stressful!
If we can become more aware of our own body’s signals, they provide us with important information about what we need in that moment. Maybe we notice certain sensations that alert us that we are getting overwhelmed which in turn allows us to be able to manage those feelings more effectively. And the outcome of this?—a calmer and more present caregiver.
I hope this has been helpful to you.
Until next time.
Want more ways to improve Interoception? Take a look at these Interoception Activity cards!