We’re guessing every parent knows this kid. The one who goes bump into everything... the furniture... the potted plant... the ever-patient pet... and especially you. They’ll practically knock you over if you’re not looking!
We call those “bump ‘n hugs” and in our view, they’re the best part of the day.
But did you ever wonder why they do it?
WHY KIDS GO BUMP
The technical term for it is proprioception - our internal GPS system. You see, children aren’t born with an understanding of their own bodies. They don’t even know their own size or shape at first. They learn it over time through interactions with the people, places, spaces, and things in their path.
But it’s not as simple as introducing your child to the ottoman and they’re good to go. Their body is always growing which means their spatial relationships are constantly changing. And that’s why they go bump. As we describe it in A Moving Child is a Learning Child...
“It’s not a question adults have to think about. But it’s a big idea for little ones. Will I fit? And that likely explains why kids love to climb in, on, around, under, over, and through things. It’s their way of exploring their place in our world.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Sit back and watch and you’ll see your child is working on this all the time. Notice how they might take an indirect route to get where they’re going, preferring to go under the coffee table for example, or over the arm of a chair.
Consider what you have right in your own living room they could navigate. For instance, throw pillows on the floor that challenge them to move over or around them. Put different sized cardboard boxes around so they can see how they fit into them. Use the dining room set as a natural tunneling system. Position the ottoman to block their path so they have to retrace their steps. (But don't be surprised if they decide it's a mountain to climb!) Or choose a row of tiles on the floor or a crack in the sidewalk to walk along.
Encourage them to move in space-related ways. For instance, bring your head down when crawling under things. Move sideways in tight spaces. Bend your knees to jump over things.
And most important of all, the next time you get a bump ‘n hug, be sure to hug back extra tight so they know you are where they always fit.