Connecting Mind, Body, and Heart
Children depend on caring grown-ups to learn and thrive in every way.
By Amy Shriver, MD
Mind, body, and heart are all one, and caring grown-ups can help show the connections among them. Together, these three elements fuel growth and learning, help children develop healthy relationships with themselves, and build healthy connections with others.
When children are healthy in mind, body, and heart, they’re set up to reach their full potential. As a parent or caregiver, everything you do—all your loving responses and interactions—help your little one develop in all three areas:
Healthy Minds: Caring for a young child means stimulating their brains by having positive, playful interactions like singing, talking, playing games, and reading.
Healthy Bodies: Build strong bodies by offering nutritious food, making sure children get the recommended hours of sleep, and ensuring they move their bodies every day. All these physical healthy habits support children’s developing brains and emotional wellness.
Healthy Hearts: An equally important part of caregiving is addressing a young child’s emotional needs—their “hearts.” A healthy inner life helps children understand and manage their feelings, connect with their parents, caregivers, and peers, as well as be good friends to themselves.
Amy Shriver is a pediatrician at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines and Assistant Professor of Specialty Medicine at Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She serves on the Executive Board of the Council on Early Childhood and is Medical Director of Reach Out and Read Iowa.
Stretch, Breathe, Move!
Help children connect with their brains and bodies to relax, refocus, or work through big feelings. After we notice how our bodies are feeling, we can think about what we are feeling and label it!
Tuning in to Children’s Unique Needs
Explore children’s unique ways of thinking, feeling, behaving, and being in the world.
Feelings, Feelings, Everywhere
Everyone has different feelings, at different times, for different reasons—and all our feelings have a place.
Let’s Sing Along! My Body, My Brain
Celebrate the mind-body connection with a song about healthy habits.
Let’s Play a Game: Feelings Detective
Help children “see” feelings on others’ faces or bodies… and understand that everyone shows their feelings a little differently.
Mindful Moment: Nature Poses
Children can practice mindful movement to learn, help manage big feelings, or just focus or relax!