Proprioception is the stimulation of the muscles, joints and ligaments of the body. Occupational Therapists often refer to this form of input as ‘heavy work’, which is precisely how it feels entering the body. Not sure what I mean? Clench your jaw together or do a push-up. Did you feel that strong sensation? That’s proprioception!
For many children, proprioception is their lifeline to feeling calm, grounded and in control. If you’ve been pulling out your hair over a child who is rough, aggressive, biting others or has meltdown after meltdown, these are clues that more proprioception is needed.
Use my list of 20 proprioceptive ideas to boost this valuable form of sensory input, encouraging the child to voice when enough feels enough!
- Eat hard foods like carrots and apples
- Carry your own backpack to child care, preschool or school
- Do push-ups on the wall or ground
- Take off your shoes and move around with bare feet
- Have a chewy pencil topper or wear chewable jewelry, to bite as needed
- Carry a pile of heavy books to another part of the house or school
- Do some digging in the garden with a large spade
- Jump up and down hard on your feet
- Roll your body along the ground or down a grass hill
- Give or receive a giant bear hug
- Have a deep pressure massage
- Do some rough and tumble play with a willing friend or parent
- Have a large fit ball rolled on top of you
- Play with a weighted toy or puppet (these can be bought commercially or you can add poly pellets/sealed bags of rice to a normal soft toy, restitching back up afterwards)
- Get squished between couch cushions, a quilt or a large gym mat
- Squeeze all the way along your own arm or leg with the opposite hand. Then swap sides.
- Do a handstand, cartwheel or become a human wheelbarrow
- Hang on the monkey bars
- Use a pull-up bar (or the monkey bars) to raise your body higher off the ground
- Roll with a grown-up, laying on their tummy to begin and getting squished as you roll over and over
I’d love to hear your number 21 in the comments! And go…