Have you ever been embarrassed by your child’s nonstop movement. You’re attempting to enjoy a nice lunch out as a family or you’re sitting in church and can’t seem to keep your little still for one moment? Well you are definitely not alone.
All moms are plagued by this at one time or another, it seems to inevitable. At least, I thought it was until I had a friend over for lunch. She has five children ranging from 10 to a couple months old, and they sat at the table and ate like adults. They were quiet, well behaved, and proper. After lunch, they asked to be excused and then sat quietly on the ground and played. Wow! I had lots of questions for this super mom. How in the world did she make the impossible happen? I was all ears ready to hear her secret. We talked for an hour or so, and this is what I gleaned.
Her secret was one little word, ready to hear it? Training, plain and simple. I think that word can seem daunting, but broken down it is just patient, consistent teaching. Children are born without knowledge, self-control, or any social graces, but they do have an amazing capacity to learn. And they will learn the right or wrong way. This is why we as parents must take the time and initiative to teach them the correct way.
So getting back to teaching our children to sit still, these are some of the methods that this mom found effective.
1. Start from day one.
Sit them on your lap and read to them or talk to them. As they grow older, slowly increase this time to an hour or so. Doing this from the very beginning will develop your child’s vocabulary, expand his brain, and teach self-control. If you begin at birth and never stop this practice, your child will naturally come to have a longer attention span and be able to sit still.
Even if you’re children are older, you can begin this practice. Go to your local library and grab some books on cd or other adventures. My personal favorite is Adventures in Odyssey. They are short, twenty-five minute episodes, but very engaging. They also teach the heart of your child by establishing Biblical principles behind each adventure.
I know that in my family, these episodes have brought up varied important topics to talk through as a family. This can definitely turn into a teaching and bonding time with your children, which is definitely a win win situation.
2. The overall key to teaching your child to sit still is developing self -control within the child.
One child training book that I have found incredibly useful is The Childwise series. In their, Babywise and Toddler Wise books, they give excellent tips and examples to build self-control. From several months old, you begin having set activities during your baby’s wake time. An example of this might be: tummy time, quiet time (book time), play pen time, or room time as they grow older. You schedule these times throughout your child’s day.
These times teach them self-control because they have to remain in the given area. It also fosters creativity. When a child is surrounded by loads of toys, they play with one toy for thirty seconds and then throw it down to pick up another.
When a child is only given a couple of toys with which to play and placed in a designated area, it encourages him to bring his imagination into play. This one lesson will enable him to problem solve in the future as well as learn to keep himself occupied.
Self control can seem difficult to cultivate in children, but it just takes a lot of persistence. Here are some different ways that you can teach your child this much needed trait.
- Play Red light, green light
- Play the game Mother May I
- About 5 minutes before lunch is ready, have them sit at the table and wait patiently
- Read books together for thirty minutes every day
- Have them teach a younger sibling something new
- Have an Asian meal and use only chopsticks
- Require first time obedience with a good spirit
- Have them learn a challenging skill such as an instrument or drawing
- Delayed gratification: make them wait for things they want. I am not saying this in a mean way, but most of the time children think that they have to eat immediately or they will starve to death. Teach them that this is not a life or death scenario, you are aware of their needs, and will attend to it as soon as it is humanly possible.
In the end, self-control is essential in teaching our children to sit still, and as we very well know, neither of these traits are inbred in children. The only answer is patient, consistent teaching of correct behavior or in other words, training.