Secure sense of self

Your child forms a healthy sense of self arises through your loving relationship, and through his direct experience of himself and his world in movement, touch and every sense. Our sense of self is in continuous flux – a process that starts in utero and stages throughout life.

Bonding & individuation

Like two sides of the same coin, while a child forms her sense of self, she forms her sense of other. Each stage of individuation requires your child to enter into a new stage of bonding.

In utero your baby is physically bonded with you – yet she still can feel a different sensation of touching herself vs. touching you. With birth your baby pushes through into a radically new stage of individuation.  

Your baby is now able to bond with you in an utterly new way, through breastfeeding. When her hand touches her mouth, your baby receives a flood of sensation from both. When she breastfeeds, her hand and mouth receive a different flood of information — and contact with you as a being who is both connected with her and separate from her.  

From the first days your baby further individuates by bonding with her other primary caregivers. She becomes more herself as she connects more with others.

Baby balancing act

Next she is able to be on her own on the earth for rest and play. The earth is a place of support for your child when she bonds to it three dimensionally. The tonic labyrinthine response in the inner ear increases muscle tone on the surface of support – providing your baby with a physical response of bonding to you and to the earth. Because babies usually have plenty of time on their backs, parents are advised to offer tummy time and sidelying. Learning to balance herself and move at a low level provides extremely important maturation of her vestibular system.

From the very first day your child relies on movement that form her body maps underlying her internal sense of self. Developmental movement in the first year provide your child with clear, organized sensory maps. Children continue throughout early childhood to move in more complex ways and form more complex sense of themselves.

Me, me, me – and you

Toddlers move into a new level of individuation with declarations of me and mine. Many of the emotional rollarcoasters of toddlerhood come in part from the disconcerting realization that mom & dad are not him.

The tonic labyrinthine response also peaks during toddlerhood. You may find that your child, sitting on your hip, feels like she is completely suctioned on, with seemingly little muscular effort, since tone of her whole body has magnetized onto your body. This increased bond creates a new base of support for your child as she explores the big world in new ways. Your near family, and your dear friends become a greater realm of bonding as your child becomes more and more her own being.

School years

As your child grows, his world gets bigger yet. She forms her own friendships in the adventure of going to school. Now she is bonding with her mates – as she becomes more capable and independent. By middle school your child is bonding with peers as a primary source of her identity. Then through high school and beyond, your child makes many decisions about her individual path relative to her peers. She sorts out her personal values in reference to the communities of caring people in her life.

Tending & befriending

Emotional intelligence – and individuality – arise from this spiralic process of continuous bonding and individuation. Many of our Western models of ‘progress’ assume we leave behind our connections with others, or just use them as a launching base to reach a peak experience of fulfilled individuality. We don’t have to live this model, since it is just a concoction of the Western mind. Make a new concoction that works for you.


Find more about developmental movement at Articles.

 Movement and the emerging mind

  Body-mind integration from the beginning