Q: How can I get my three and six year olds to sit still? We have a hard time going out to eat or even attending a short children’s program without them popping up constantly like a Jack in the box.
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A: The short answer is by training them. Now before you think I’m equating kids with dogs, let me explain. Children are not born with the ability to act like civilized human beings. That’s the job of parents—to turn little beasts into courteous boys and girls.
But that doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen without a plan and effort. So here’s one way you can accomplish your goal of having kids who can sit quietly in a variety of settings.
First, remember that this will take some time. I’m assuming you haven’t done much in the training department in this regard, so give your kids time to adjust to the new requirements.
Second, practice at home. Kids do well with role-playing, so practice how to sit in a restaurant at your kitchen table. Also help your child learn to entertain himself quietly by giving him time throughout the day to color, look at a book, etc. This will help him occupy himself when you need him sitting in a chair.
Third, stash a “quiet bag” in your car for each kid. This small bag should have a few books, doodle pads, a small bag of crayons and coloring book, lace ups, etc. When you know you’ll be someplace where the kids have to sit still, bring along the quiet bag for his entertainment. Having one for each child will also cut down on squabbles over the items.
Fourth, start small and build on those success. Begin with having a child sit quietly at home for 5 minutes (use a kitchen timer if that will help), then work your way slowly up to half an hour or so.
So take the time to train your kids on how to sit still—it’s time well spent.
Until next time,
Coming in early 2014, Sarah and Mary Elizabeth Peritti will speak on Parenting With Love & Leadership in a four-part webinar series. Contact Sarah through her website for more information.