A mom asked, “How on earth do I manage my constantly wiggling six year old? This child won’t sit still! Family devotions are so stressful – and don’t even mention schoolwork or church. What can I do?”
I am so with you here! Our youngest, a girl(!) has been one of those churning and burning children from the beginning. With six boys, we’ve had our share of the wiggles, but some kiddos take it to the next level, don’t they?
Somehow we’ve got to get them to learn to sit still and focus. That’s one of the great things about homeschooling. We can make sure they sit when they have to, but we also have the freedom to keep those times short and doable and give them lots of activity, too. Here are some things we’ve found out:
Some children need some kind of stimulation to sit still. I’ve found brushing my daughter’s hair while we do family devotions keeps her calm and still. Stroking an arm or letting them use their hands to squeeze a ball or play with a small toy can help.
You can let them color or draw, too. This works especially well in church. We’ll often divide a piece of paper into big squares and tell our children to draw anything they understand from the sermon. Just ignore anyone who glares at you for letting them draw. It’s amazing what they will learn and understand while they do. One time one of ours drew every point of a sermon about the qualifications of elders/pastors. She was seven!
Using their big muscles before you expect them to be still helps, too. When we make stops when we’re driving, we try to stop at a rest area where there’s grass to throw a frisbee, run, or play football. When our guys start losing focus in school, we have them run up and down the stairs or jump on the mini-trampoline. That thing is a life-saver! Research shows boys actually do learn better after they’ve used their big muscles.
It’s a stretch for all of us. Learning to be still and quiet is a stretch for our wigglers, but learning to be patient with them is a stretch for me, too. It’s important that we keep our tempers and don’t blow up – even when they really get on our nerves! They usually don’t mean to be so frustrating. They’re just stuck in a body that wants to move when everyone else is saying, “Don’t!” It’s hard for them, too.
It’s hard for all of us, but it does get better! Some of those churners and burners of ours are grown men who really can sit still during meetings at work. (I’m not saying it’s easy, son. ) They’ll learn self-control. Really, they will.