Psychomotor development and self-control of the body

Psychomotricity refers to the relationship between psychological functioning and movements . It is both a way of receiving and a way of expressing: it is a source of new knowledge and experiences, as well as the expression of knowledge already acquired.

Thanks to psychomotor skills we are able to extract all its possibilities of action and expression from the body.

Two components must be distinguished:

  • External component : action, movement.
  • Symbolic or internal component : the representation of the body.

For the child, the representation of the body, in his mind, is a complex process that builds slowly as a result of the experiences they have with him and the experiences he has. With the acquisition of this body representation we are able to know our body and we achieve the ability to adjust our movements to our purposes (for example, let’s think about the coordination that is needed if we drop a paper on the ground and we want to pick it up).

During the development process, the child acquires some control of his body: the parts of the body that are closest to the head are controlled first, and control is extended downwards.

The neck muscles and the movements that can be carried out with it are controlled earlier (throughout the first month) than the trunk muscles (around 3-4 months he is able to support the head with the trunk).

Children move their arms earlier than their legs : at 8-9 months they are able to crawl, at 10 months they are able to stand up with help. Around the year he is able to support himself. Once this is achieved, he can start walking, first with help and then alone (12-14 months).

We control before the movements of the parts of the body that are closer to the body axis (imaginary vertical line that divides the body into two symmetrical halves) than those that are further away from said axis.

The shoulders move first, then the elbows, then the wrists, and finally the fingers.

Thanks to this sectorial domain of the body, the child is progressively able to voluntarily integrate and control a greater number of muscle groups, as well as the movements that they can perform with them.

Process of motor independence and coordination

At the peak of body control there are two processes that are apparently contradictory, but really complementary:

  • Process of motor independence : which is the ability to move separately each part of the body that can move by itself (motor segment). For example, the movements that each finger is capable of making independently of the other four.
  • Coordination process: it is the ability to chain and associate different movements, so that as a whole they form a more complex movement than the particular movements. For example, the independence of the movements of the five fingers and of each of the two hands does not prevent coordinated movements and a superior movement from appearing, such as writing.

This process is very important, since the sequence of movements is automated , so that there comes a time when the writing is executed without the person having to attend to its completion. This frees your attention and you can focus on other tasks. For example, think about what we are going to write.

The complementarity of both processes makes the psychomotor organization effective. It reaches its full development in the years in which compulsory schooling begins, that is, around the age of six.

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