In a previous vlog I covered the expectation of sharing and why we need to change our thinking about it. Today I want to look at the expectation of sitting still. This is another topic that seems to spark a whole range of thoughts and expectations. “My two year old can’t sit still” or “My preschooler really only sits for about 10 minutes and then wants to move.” Guess what, that is correct!!
With a shift to more mothers morning out programs or preschool starting at an earlier age there has come another expectation on our kids that doesn’t actually match up with years of science, research and some good old common sense. This is the expectation of sitting still.
SITTING STLL IS A SKILL
Sitting still is a skill. That’s right, it’s a skill. You need to develop it over time. It is not something that you wake up with one day, being able to sit still for over an hour. I am 43 and I still can’t sit still that long. So, if we look at child development and the fact that it is a skill, there really is only so much you can expect of your kids at a certain age.
Remember that not all children develop at the same rate. You will have children who appear to be superstars at sitting still younger than expected. But they are not the norm. So what are these approximate ages and times?
- 3-year-olds: 5–10 minutes
- 5-year-olds: 15 minutes
- 7-year-olds: 25 minutes
- 10-year-olds: 40 minutes
Please note that these are not long periods of time. Even adults have difficulties sitting still for over an hour. You have to build up to it. For young children, start small. One or 2 minutes at the most. Encourage them to try and reward them for doing well. We all know that there is the expectation to sit still at school so you are not a distraction to other children. Before your child heads off to Kindergarten help them to sit still by practicing in small increments on the floor and in chairs and providing some ideas of what to do when they can’t or they want to wriggle about.
If your child is having some troubles sitting still, do NOT jump to the conclusion that your child might have ADHD. There are so many reasons why they might be struggling to sit still. It could also just be their learning type, where they need to be in a state of motion to be learning effectively.
SOME REASONS WHY YOUR CHILD MIGHT BE STRUGGLING TO SIT STILL:
- They are tired
- They need to go to the bathroom
- They are bored
- Their chair is the wrong size (too big or too small)
- There is too much stimulation going on (too much noise)
- Not enough exercise
- Physical limitations like low muscle tone
- Inner ear issues (infection or fluid in ear affecting balance)
- Not enough sleep or isn’t sleeping well
- They might be too young for the group they are in
- There is a push of expectations (like handwriting) before they are developmentally ready
- Stuff is going on at home and it is stressing them
- The time they are expected to sit still is too long
So, let’s back off a bit from the expectation of our children sitting still and encourage them to practice and try. If you do have any concerns about your child and their sitting still ability, talk to their pediatrician. I am happy to help with ideas to help your child learn how to sit still. It takes time. It takes training. Everything will be great.