February 11, 2014

The Art of Sitting Still

Sitting still is something that we all have to do, even when we don’t want to. In some cases (a lot actually), it isn’t even an option. For example, when we go to the movies, to school, church, weddings, funerals, etc….we have to sit quietly until it is over.

While, as adults, sitting still doesn’t bother most of us, this is not a skill that we were born with. We had to learn how to sit still. We had to learn when it was appropriate and when it wasn’t appropriate to move around.
As a mother of two young boys (6 and 1), I am in the process of teaching them how to sit still. And, trust me, it is a process. While my expectations of my 1 year old aren’t that high, I know that my 6 year old has the ability to sit still for at least an hour or two (unless he has to use the restroom or something like that). And, while we still aren’t perfect at sitting still, both of my boys have gotten much better.
Below are some of the tips that have helped me during this journey. Hopefully, they will be of some use to you too.
1.      Watch movies at home. Again, one of the times when we have to sit still is at the movie theater and most of us enjoy going to the movies, at least in my house! Going to the movie theater is a big treat for my 6 year old because it is one that he had to earn. Before we could go to a real movie theater, he had to show me that he could sit still long enough to watch a movie. So, we practiced this at home. We had movie nights (with popcorn) at home. During the movie, he was expected to sit still for the whole movie just as he would at a movie theater. Once we felt he had shown us that he could sit for the duration of a movie, we rewarded him for all his hard work with a movie theater “date.” It went great! 

2.      Practice School. Another place where children are going to have to learn to be good and sit still is at school. Many children begin going to school when they are in Pre-K, but there are beginning to be more and more 3-year old programs starting around the country. A good way to help children learn how to behave in school is by practicing “school” at home. “School” can be sitting down on the floor and reading to your child for 20 minutes or longer, depending on the child’s age. Another idea is to sit down with your child and spend 20 minutes coloring. The point is to do some type of activity with them that requires them to sit down and be quiet for a specified period of time like they will have to do when they start going to school.

3.      Have Snack Time. I can remember when I was little, my favorite time of the day was snack time. Snacks were always given after naps so I had something to look forward to. It is the same for my kids now. One of the trends that I’ve noticed, and I’ve been guilty of it too, is “grazing.” A lot of busy parents get lax at snack time and let their kids eat part of the snack, get down and play and then return to eat more when they feel like it. While there isn’t anything horribly wrong with this, it is a lost opportunity to teach kids how to sit down and be still. Like I said, I was guilty of this myself and have just recently began to crack down on it.

4.      Visit Restaurants. For me, taking the boys to a restaurant is a scary thought – not because they are “bad” but because it is a long time for them to be expected to sit. However, going out to eat is something we all do so children need to learn what’s expected of them in these situations. Therefore, take the opportunity to bring your kids out to dinner once or twice every few weeks. This is the only way they will learn.

5.      Go to Story Time. Most libraries have scheduled story times for young children to attend throughout the week. This is a great place to help teach children how to sit still as they will have to sit still and listen while the story is being read to them. It is also a great way to test their progress since you have started practicing at home.
I’m sure that you are starting to notice a trend about teaching kids to sit still – practice. Practice is the one thing that you can do to improve your child’s ability to sit still. You will notice that the more you practice, the longer they are able to sit when you are out in public. Good luck, and remember, it is a learning process and you need to be patient with your kids. As they grow, they will get better!

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