Do you feel like you are constantly repeating yourself with your kid. “Sit up, don’t touch that, get off the couch, put that down, quit wiggling.” I could go on and on, I am sure. Does this sounds familiar? You are not alone! In fact, this was my story until three years ago when I discovered the real reason my kid can’t sit still. Today, I’ll share a secret you might not know about why your kid can’t sit still either!
Let me start by saying, in case you are new here… I am a national board certified teacher with over 12 years of classroom experience in an early childhood classroom. I know about child developmental stages. I understand a child’s need to have play in their day. I definitely understand how children learn through different modalities. However, there always seemed to be “those kids” that seemed to never stop moving!
When I was in the classroom, I always had at least 3 or 4 students in every class. One year, I had a child who literally climbed the cubbies and the walls. No matter what I did, he could not sit down. Carpet time was a nightmare! I did my best. I did what I could, used classroom management strategies that I had been taught in my teacher training and implemented new ones.. over and over again. Nothing seemed to work. Each year, these children would wear me out. I loved them, but wow…. they exhausted me.
Then I had my own child. I am a strong believer that having your own child can only make you a stronger teacher. Wow! I really learned the truth behind “an active child”. In preschool it wasn’t so bad. In kindergarten, it was still age appropriate. In first grade, we all turned our heads a little when his choice way of getting around the classroom was to crawl on the floor and bury his head on the ground. Then in second grade, it became increasingly obvious, my son COULD NOT sit still.
I had tried every parenting strategy out there. I had been gentle, I had been firm. I had been inventive, I had been consistant. Nothing was working. No matter what we did, my son was now one of “those kids.”
The chats with the teacher at pick up turned to notes home. The notes home turned to parent teacher conferences. The parent teacher conferences turned to detentions. Finally the detentions turned to suspensions. We were at a loss. Pure and utter loss.
… enter a child in my own classroom with extreme sensory needs and a prescribed sensory diet…..
I had no clue why this child was bouncing on me. I couldn’t figure out why he jumped on ALL our furniture and I definitely didn’t understand this new “sensory diet” that I was handed by his mom to implement in the classroom. No one had ever told me about this before. However, there I was faced with a child much like my own, but he had a special “diet” of exercises and strategies that seemed to actually calm his fidgets, soothe his wiggles and allow him to participate in the classroom. I wanted this solution for my own son! That’s when I decided then and there that I would do anything it took to find the solution! What I found, surprised me!
The REAL Reason My Kid Can’t Sit Still
Remember how I said that this kid had a special “diet” and a special diagnosis? Turns out he struggled with something called sensory processing disorder, which I had never ever heard of before. In fact, I was pretty sure it was fake. I remember thinking “really, a disorder that says its okay for this kid to just climb on everything and jump on everything?” I am embarrassed to say that now, but I wanted to be honest with you where I came from.
That summer I read the book “Out of Sync Child” and”The Out of Sync Child Has Fun” by Carol Kranowitz. Everything started to make sense. You see, its not about a disorder. I mean, it is! That little boy, like my son, has a disorder that makes it difficult for his brain to process incoming messages for the world around them. I’ll get into more of that next time in this series and in my new book, but right now I want to focus on what I learned because of this severe need to wiggle and not sit still.
Want a free chapter of my new book? At the end of this post, I will give you a chance to find out more!
I learned that all children have these needs. ALL children. Did you read that? I was floored! In fact, all of us (even you) have these needs that no one has ever told us about. All of us have these “sensory systems” that help us process the information we are around daily. Right now, I am in a coffee shop writing this and my brain is trying to processes the smell of my pumpkin spice latte, the sun shining through the window, the hard seat I’ve been sitting in for over an hour, the two college students talking across the coffee shop and the overwhelming desire to get up and move! All of my senses are trying to integrate and process at the same time! Something has to give!
That is why your kid can’t sit still! That is why my kid jumps on the furniture. You see, your child’s proprioceptive system is asking for pressure, asking for input, asking for MORE to counter the other input their body is receiving. Your child’s vestibular system is seeking out movement in the form of spinning, wiggling, and possibly even turning upside down as a way to regulate everything around them.
We have been taught that children should sit still, listen and only jump on the playground. Running is for outside and wiggling is not paying attention. I challenge you to stretch your thinking. I challenge you to try giving your child some sensory input when they start to wiggle.
So the next time your child starts to wiggle and you are tempted to say “stop, sit still“, I challenge you to say “lets get up and move! Let’s give your body some sensory input!”
What do you think? Does this sound like something you can do? If you are still concerned, still worried and you are thinking… “Yeah, but my child……xyz.” “Is it normal for my kid to…..xyz?” Don’t worry! I got you covered! The next post in this series is going to help you discover whether your child’s behaviors are “normal” or not!
You might also like these ideas for some sensory input to try today!
While you wait, you might like a sneak peek into our new book that is releasing September 15th! All you have to do, is click here for your free chapter of the book! Then, next time we meet, you will have a little more knowledge on sensory processing and how it effects you and your children!