(Inside: Why can’t my child just sit still?! Have you tried everything and nothing seems to help your child sit still for five minutes? This will change your life!)
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!
*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see disclosure for details.
Why Your Kid Can’t Just Sit Still | The Real Reason You Should Know
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!
Sensory Processing | Why Your Wiggly 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.
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 go into more details about that in my book, Sensory Processing 101, but right now I want to focus on what I learned because of this severe need to wiggle and not sit still.
I learned that all children have these needs.
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, and 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!”
But your story doesn’t end here… Sensory Processing is only one piece of a very large puzzle of behavior…
Because your child’s behaviors are much like an iceberg. On the surface you see…
* a child that is clingy and doesn’t like to be alone,
* a child that crosses his arms and shuts down
* a child that is scared of ever getting a wrong answer
* a child that doesn’t like to go new places
Or a child that becomes “hyper” when new guests arrive at your house.
It’s easy to look at these behaviors as just what we see. It’s easy to make assumptions about why our children are acting out or doing inexplicable things.
However, I challenge you to look for the other 85%. Look deeper.
By just answering a few short questions you can determine your child’s dominant behavior type!
✅Your child’s Behavior Type (there are FIVE of them by the way..)
✅How to handle this behavior IN THE MOMENT so that you can feel confident when behaviors take over
✅What your child’s dominant struggles and superpowers are based on their unique skills, likes and dislikes…
Click here to take the quiz so you too can have the clarity and confidence to parent your unique child that benefits both you and them ➡️https://behaviorquiz.com
If you are still concerned, still worried and you are thinking… “Yeah, but my child……xyz.” “Is it normal for my kid to…..xyz?” You can check out the next post in the series where I’ll talk about whether your child’s behaviors are “normal” or not!
More Resources For Dealing with Sensory “Issues”
To help you remember some of these strategies and understand sensory behavior and what to do in the moment, I’ve put together this amazing poster set on how to understand your child’s sensory struggles and discipline sensory meltdowns.
These posters give you tips on how to help your child regulate their sensory needs, and identify what your child’s behavior is really telling you!
There’s also a list of 7 common myths about sensory behavior. I dispel these misconceptions so you can gain a deeper understanding of what sensory really is.
Ok, you might be thinking…
This all sounds great but…
- What should I do when my child is having a meltdown?
- How do I create sensory strategies that are going to help my unique child?
- How exactly do I get them to use those strategies in the moment?
In my next blog post, I’ll share how to create sensory tools that are going to help your specific child. I’ll also tell you what to do in the moment when your child is in sensory overload and having a meltdown!
But right now, download your FREE Handle Any Sensory Challenge posters so you can get a deeper understanding of sensory and start implementing some sensory activities and routines with your family!