Wednesday, April 6, 2016


We bought this poster in Spain. It grabbed our attention because there were 7 children all sitting on a bench - and we had 7 children at home in New Zealand. The gender order was not quite the same as ours, but the poster captured something of an ideal, where children were drinking together, they were sitting still and not chaotically running all over the place.
Such child orderliness is not attractive to everyone, but the truth is, there ARE times in life when a child needs to 'sit still'.
  ~ the daily loading a child into their car seat
  ~ a child sitting in their high chair
  ~ a child eating a meal
  ~ a child sitting on the toilet
  ~ a child sitting in the supermarket trolley
  ~ a child travelling on a plane, bus, train...
  ~ a child sitting in the dental nurse's chair
  ~ an ill child being examined by a doctor or medical person 
  ~ a child sitting on the floor at a library story time
  ~ a child sitting still at school or in church....
* The consequences of a child not sitting still on the toilet, eating a meal or in the high chair, can be catastrophically messy!!!
* The consequences of a child not sitting still while being put into the car seat, can be an exhausting physical workout!!
* The consequences of a child not sitting still on a plane, bus, train, or in the supermarket trolley, can be extremely dangerous!!
* The consequences of a child not sitting still in the dental nurse chair or for a doctor to examine them, can be very stressful for both the medics and parents.
* The consequences of a child not sitting still at library story time, at school or church, can be a huge distraction and an annoyance to others.
Most parents of young children have experienced public embarrassment in one situation or another, because their child couldn't or wouldn't sit still.
How do you help a child learn to sit still?
1. Children learn quickly if what they are learning is repeated often and in close succession.
2. The best time frame for preschoolers is to have a daily learning time. I started when our children could sit up.
3. The ideal time is soon after a meal, when they have a clean nappy or have been to the toilet, so they are comfortable.
4. Day 1 - Start by sitting the child on your knee and hold them in a loving way - firmly but not tight. With a relaxed warm voice begin by saying the words, 'sit still' or 'quiet and still'. You find the phrase that works for you and only say it a couple of times.
5. Read a short story to the child, only for 1 - 2 minutes on Day 1. If your child tries to get away, wriggles, gets agitated - keep calm and repeat your phrase. 
Hold them firmly but not tight. I find it helps if I have a relaxed  face and soft smile - that directs my body emotion.
If they become hyped up, softly and slowly stroke them on their arm, leg, head to help them to relax, while you hold them firmly. 
If it becomes a tussle, leave it for today and start again tomorrow as Day 1.
The point of this time is that your attention and their focus is to be on the story, so you need to be relaxed, confident, warm and calm. The child senses your emotions and will learn to follow them over the next few days. 
Remember you are the parent, so lead the way.
6. Day 2, do the same as Day 1 with a new story and increase the time to 2 minutes. Day 3, again increase the time to 3 minutes....
In one week you could be up to 7 minutes which is a terrific amount of time and development in your child learning to sit still.
7. If during the proceedings they go to sleep, just keep reading until your time is up.
8. Once you are up to 10 minutes in the day, it is important that sitting still story time be a regular daily practice. Either continue to increase the time each day by a minute or maintain it at 10 minutes. 
We found once we got to about 10 minutes at a sitting, the effect of the new learnt skill was automatically being applied by the child to other situations at other times in the day.
The plan is simple and children can learn to do this from a young age. The earlier you start the better.
If you are starting with a 3 or 4 year old, I suggest you still begin with them sitting on your knee. If however they don't like this, get them to sit next to you on the couch. Putting your arm around them helps them to be connected with you and focus on the story. The whole experience becomes something that is looked forward to. 
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ start practicing sitting still with your child. You have nothing to loose!!