Active Children: Are you Struggling to Help Them Sit Still?


I’ve had the pleasure of working with many wonderful children who have active, busy bodies. They tend to move a lot and they almost seem driven to move by their bodies. Some of them really try to sit still, but they often lose the battle.

I can understand children’s need to move. I have a body that needs to move to learn and think. I have met a lot of people with this same makeup. I have had the benefit of many years of learning to manage my movement needs. I sit on a disc sit (air-filled disc) so I can move as I sit at my desk. I do a bit of yoga every morning to activate nerves and muscles (to get a dose of proprioception stimulation), and I appreciate having an active job.

Why It’s Important for Active Children to Move
What I’ve learned in my twenty plus years of working with children is that some children need to move to make up for a time when they did not have the chance to move, and to build an awareness of their proprioceptive and/or vestibular system. The reason why kids become active can stem from many different life experiences. For example, premature babies with long hospital stays, children who were neglected and sat in a crib or car seat for long periods of time or kids who need more time to move throughout their day all are possible sources one can point to if a child is very active. I find when a child has not had the opportunity to meet their movement needs developmentally, they will keep moving to try to make up for it.
I See ABILITY!™ Resources for Active Children

How do I help? I offer resources to teachers that they can use to give children, who need movement throughout their day, a way to move and increase their development. I suggest activities like pushing or pulling weighted carts (could be a toy grocery cart) or stacking chairs or carrying a weighted box to another classroom with a note in it for a teacher. There are ways to support a child’s body to fire up nerves and activate muscles that increase development of sensory systems. Sometimes, once they gain the development, they drop the movement need and/or desire a dose of input to satiate their need for movement every now and then.

Why Some Children Can’t Sit Still

You can’t teach a child to sit still if their body is seeking that sensory activity. Some will work really hard at trying and talking themselves into staying still. There are other ways to meet in the middle that works both for teacher and child. For example, keep them moving as they are sitting (use that air-filled disc), or have them activate more nerves with a position that takes their muscles more effort to fire such as sitting on their foot or kneeling during circle time. If you meet their sensory needs, the child can sit longer and pay attention to you versus listening to their self-talk around sitting still.

I love to shed light on the complex yet important sensory processing system, and how you can respond to your student’s need for movement through my blogs, videos and trainings. If you are unsure of how you can structure sensory activities into an already active student’s day, check out these great videos where I give you some easy ways to not only give your student’s body the desired movement their seeking but to also create calmer classrooms once the sensory needs are addressed.

Video Resources to Help Active Children in a Classroom

Heavy work activities that create calmer classroom and home atmospheres

Cyndi teaches various sitting positions that help kids concentrate

Use air-filled discs to improve your concentration and increase sitting duration

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© 2016 I See Ability.
All Rights Reserved.

Cyndi Elliott, OTR/L

wHOLEhearted, LLC
cyndi@cyndi-elliott.com

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