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The Importance of the Five Senses in Parenting

The Importance of the Five Senses in Parenting

The five senses — touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste — help us navigate the world around us. However, these senses aren’t just for survival. As a parent, engaging the five senses while raising your children can be useful in many ways.

Focusing on the senses often allows for better communication between you and your children and can turn many experiences into key learning moments. Moreover, sensory play activities can help your child take a more active role in their life by stimulating and enriching their five senses, which is essential to their brain’s development. 

The Importance of Child Development

You probably don’t have to think too hard to come up with ways in which our senses help us. Crossing a busy street, completing chores, driving to work, tasks like these require the use of our senses. Our senses affect us mentally as well. For example, sight can help with memory and certain smells can bring a sense of comfort. With all of that in mind, it’s not that surprising that engaging the five senses more often while parenting can play a role in your child’s life and overall development.

Of course, every person approaches parenting differently. However, objectively, it’s fair to say that it’s our job to help our children grow and develop into healthy, happy, well-functioning beings. Refusing to do anything to boost a child’s development can lead to some serious issues later down the road. Not only will it hurt and affect them as an adult, but parents or guardians who neglect a child’s development can be brought up on charges of educational neglect. Our children rely on us to help them safely explore the world and it’s our responsibility to steer them in the right direction, the best way we can.

Sight

We get a lot of information about our surroundings thanks to our eyes. We can see when a kid is about to shove a handful of dirt into their mouth or take a tumble from the couch. We can also see when our child is about to cry or if they’re feeling uncomfortable by studying their face. Because of this, our sight plays a major role in our decision-making, both as adults and as kids. Furthermore, sight, as mentioned above, can also improve memory which is another factor that contributes to the choices we make.

To include sight more often while parenting, start by being more purposeful while you and your child are observing your surroundings. Go for a walk and ask your children questions about what they’re seeing. You can go as simple as asking what colours and shapes they’re seeing or make it a bit challenging by experimenting with shadows and light. Another idea, particularly if your kids are a bit older, is to visit a busy public space such as a skate park. With so much motion filling the area, your child is likely to start observing new objects, patterns, and even discover something new.

Hearing

One of the most fun ways you can enrich your child's five senses is through sound and music. Music and musical instruments can allow kids to have an active role in their auditory senses as well as provide an important sense of independence. Music can be a fairly subjective experience, which means your child can experiment with their preferences and even enhance their self-expression abilities. Do they like classical music or rock? What music makes them happy, motivated, or even feel sad?

Beyond enjoying music, getting your child involved with a musical instrument can also improve their self-esteem and promote better listening and focusing skills. However, the most important thing to keep in mind is to let your child decide what musical instrument they want to play. Kids tend to naturally gravitate towards what they like, or think they will like, including music and musical instruments. If we create barriers, such as, “boys don’t play the flute,” we’re only limiting the learning possibilities they could have.

Touch

Our hands and our feet are some of the most sensitive places on our bodies. Like our eyes, they tell us a lot about our world. Touch also helps us with important tasks throughout our daily lives — from tying our shoelaces to washing our hair. As a parent, teaching your children about how to interpret what they touch and feel, both physically and mentally, can enhance their communication skills. Try introducing new textures, such as clay or wax or beads, and let your child explore and talk about what they’re touching. Do they like the way clay feels? How does it feel different when the clay is dry versus wet. What shapes can you make with the clay?

You can even use this sense to your advantage during those difficult dinners when you’re child refuses to touch what you’ve made. Their sense of sight could be telling them one thing about their food, but touching it could tell them something else. For example, asparagus might look like it will taste weird to your child at first, but by touching it (and hopefully, eventually tasting it) they might conclude that it’s okay to eat and that they even like it.

Smell

Smell is a powerful sense. It can increase our appetite, create memories, and even invoke certain emotions. One of the best ways to get your kids to explore their sense of smell is by cooking together. When we cook or bake, there is often a plethora of aromas from the herbs, spices, and other ingredients being used. These smells can create positive associations with food, alongside taste.

While it doesn’t need to happen every mealtime, slowing down while baking bread or cookies together, taking time to ask what your child feels or think when they smell certain things, can be extremely beneficial to their sensory development. Plus, when your children eventually grow up, those memories will be with them whenever they smell those familiar scents as an adult.

Taste

Have you ever wondered why babies put everything in their mouths? Well, it’s because our mouth, particularly our tongue, is another part of us that is extremely sensitive. A baby can explore the feeling of car keys, for example, in their mouths much better than in their hands. As our kids grow older though, they begin to use their sense of taste to develop personal preferences. These preferences can lead them to try new things as they explore the unknown in search of what they do know, once again building a positive association with food and more.

Next time you try a new recipe, invite your kid to describe what they’re tasting. Sweet? Salty? Bitter? Sour? You could also do a blind taste test where your kids sample a variety of foods, even kind they’ve never had before, and let their tastebuds do all the talking. Your kids might find with one sense gone, like sight, some foods taste better or worse.

By encouraging children to actively explore their five senses, you’re setting them up with important skills they’ll need throughout their life. While life certainly can get busy as a parent, it’s worth taking the time to help your child better understand their world and themselves — they’ll thank you later.

About the author:

Frankie Wallace is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She writes about a variety of topics, and spends most of her free time in her garden. 

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Submitted Exclusively to CrystalWind.ca  by Frankie Wallace © 2020 crystalwind.ca

About the author:

Frankie Wallace is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She writes about a variety of topics, and spends most of her free time in her garden. 

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