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Helping A 5 Year Old Positively Direct His Desire To Be Physical

by Dana
(Phoenix, AZ)

Learning about LOA has helped me immensely, personally and as a parent. I greatly appreciate you sharing your inspiration. My 5 year old son has an amazing enthusiasm and curiosity for exploring the world around him. He is definitely a kinesthetic learner and wants to get out and interact with the world physically .

He is also extremely sociable and loves engaging with others. I can see that he feels good when he is physically active, touching, climbing, etc.

Now that he is in kindergarten he has had plenty of opportunities to engage with others and has on several occasions crossed the boundaries set by the school. He is being told that we do not touch our friends.

Most of his behavior is wrestling and pushing because being physical feels good to him, not because he is angry or frustrated. He even greets his friends in the morning with a big bear hug that often ends up with him pulling them to the ground.

I can tell that physical touch is his way of communicating but it is not considered appropriate by the school and other parents. How do I honor his innate desire to interact with the world in the way that feels good to him without hurting other kids or losing playground time.

He feels shame when he has had to sit out, or go to the principal's office and I don't want him to feel shame about how he is. I just want to help him learn how to direct this energy in a way that will create a more positive outcome for him.

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Different Energy - Part One
by: Annie Desantis

Hi Dana,
Looks like you have hit the nail on the head describing him as a kinesthetic learner. And sadly schools are not set up to cope with those kinds of kids, so there is always a lot of pressure to conform to the average.

Well done you for wanting to celebrate his zest for life, he sounds like such a wonderfully exuberant little boy.

Learning To Respect Others Needs

However he does still need to learn to respect other people - learning empathy for others takes a while, and in particular with a child that needs physical contact, it is a challenge to recognize that some people need more time and space to engage. He is like a big puppy coming in wanting to full on romp and play, and some kids are scared of dogs!

Many people need other signals to connect - visual and auditory being the most common. So helping him to see the differences in others and taking a breath and holding back a little.

Looking For Differences

Find some examples in your family of differences - maybe Grandma is a sweet tooth and Granddad loves salty foods. Perhaps his Dad loves sport and you love arty things. Some people love to run and shout and others like to sit quietly reading.

Play games that celebrate and look for difference. Unfortunately the school is making him feel bad for his energy, but it is more a matter of him learning when it is OK to be full on, and when it is kinder to respect other people's energy and blend a little.

Practice Different Kinds Of energy

Learning about different energy is also really useful. Being quiet and calm for a few moments means he will notice all kinds of things that he doesn't when he is being full on.

Alternate activities with him so he learns to feel the difference. Running round the back yard yelling as loud as he can. Then stop and lie on the grass and watch the clouds and in his mind listen for as many things as he can - but he does not tell you until after quiet time is up. Then he can run again shouting out the things he heard: heart beating, birds, planes, cars, dog barking Etc. That also helps him to widen his awareness to other kinds of energy and more things happening around him.

Fairies and Monsters is another good one - you have to be incredibly quiet and tip toe through the bushes to see or hear fairies. But then we have to run very fast to get away from the monster hiding behind the tree!

Part Two Follows . . .

Different Energy - Part Two
by: Annie Desantis

Different Situations = Different Energy

Kids do quickly learn that they can't behave the same way in all situations. They soon learn they can't put their feet up on Grandmas sofa, or run around in the movie theater.

School of course is a huge part of our kid's lives and does have a big impact. We can't always find alternatives or homeschooling is not a choice most parents can make. So our job as parents is to make sure he has plenty of affirming physical outlets outside of school.

He might need to do something really physical before school so he can get all the energy flowing, and be more prepared to settle once at school. Maybe having running race on the way to school, or doing some jumping Jacks before heading in the gate.

Help him to watch other people for feedback about what they might be happy with. When he is full on excited and throwing himself into a situation, he is not aware of the energy of others.

No Touching Friends? No Way!

I am saddened that the school are saying we don't touch our friends. Yes children do need to respect other little bodies and not impose touch if it is not welcomed. But not being able to give a hug or wrestle and play is way too extreme.

Kids actually learn a lot of good stuff from play fighting. Of course boundaries need to be set and they have to learn not to hurt each other. But testing, challenging, being physical, and yes, the touch are all important.

Don't get too worried about what happens at school. A kid with his enthusiasm for life will bounce back very quickly. And we can't deliver a perfect happy experience for every moment of our kids lives.

Part Three Follows . . .

Different Energy - Part Three
by: Annie Desantis

Help Him To Figure Out
What Works

Keep affirming his energy and physicality, but when he is unhappy with being told off when he has gone too far, help him to work out what he wants to do to make it better.

Most likely what he wants is to have lots of fun with his friends. If his friends have been hurt when he was too full on, or if they are a bit scared of him, then he will learn to tone down a bit so it stays being fun. It won't be fun for him either, when it shifts from being exciting to hurting someone, or being told off for breaking rules.

Help him to figure out what times or places he can let rip. The park, with older siblings, in the pool. When kids come on play dates, it is fine to rampage around so long as he is not hurting his friends. But then at school he will know he has to quiet his energy during class.

The other thing that is a learning curve for him, is to use language to communicate, not just physical expressions of his feelings. Saying "hey, I'm so excited to see you" before a massive bear hug, gives the other child a chance to connect before being thrown to the floor!

Learning Tips

You might also have some challenges with his learning. Unfortunately schools have this terrible belief that we learn by sitting quietly listening to the teacher, then quietly doing repetitions in a book. Not so. Most people learn best by doing, and most complex tasks are remembered much better if we are able to move our bodies to integrate new things and keep everything flowing.

He can learn little tricks to help in the classroom. When they are told to move to their desks, or get something out of their trays or bags, then he can do some big stretches (carefully so he does not knock anyone!) Or when sitting on the mat he can wriggle his toes and rotate his ankles. Again, the temptation for him will be to engage with someone so make it a game where the goal is to keep it secret!

And at home you can do heaps to help him with reading or any maths games by building in movement. Hopping or skipping and doing cross crawl type movements - touch the opposite foot, or opposite elbow to the knee. Those kinds of movements help to balance right brain/left brain and keep everything switched on.

Part Four Follows . . .

Different Energy - Part Four
by: Annie Desantis

Uncomfortable Is Not Bad

Like you, I would want to celebrate his energy and his level of trust to be open to being so physical. And I see time and time again, how school is often a major challenge for these kinds of kids. But we are here to have lots of different experiences, and learning to make them more fun, does sometimes mean adapting our behaviour when what we are doing impacts on other people so it is no longer fun.

You are totally on the right track of enjoying his energy and understanding the way he communicates. It is hard not to want our kids to have it all perfectly from the word go. But it is his journey and though you can provide lots of positive input and heaps of love, ultimately he will be unfolding perfectly in his own wonderfully enthusiastic way.

Just enJOY him,
with love,
Annie D :)

Thank you!!!!
by: Dana

I greatly appreciate your in depth response. The idea of helping him to read the energies of others makes so much sense. I am excited to try the games, should be fun for me too! Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are awesome.

I will be checking back here often to soak in your wisdom :)

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