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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Training My Children to Sit Still

My Taming the Hurricane in the House post raised a question in the comments section on how I got to the point where kids could sit still while I made dinner.

The short answer is, "Practice, practice, practice."

Here's the long answer:

When my oldest was 15 months old, I started training him to sit still. I placed him in a regular chair or a highchair. I then set a timer for five minutes. He was required to sit and not come down. Whenever he tried to come down, I told him "no" and then placed him back in the chair. I did this everyday and as he got better, I increased the time to 10 minutes. Slowly and surely we worked up to 30 minutes. Eventually we transitioned into listening to a sermon together every morning, and this lasted anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour. On a humorous note, the sitting and listening sometimes resulted in something a little more... sedentary. This picture was taken after we'd listened to a sermon from John MacArthur:

We have continued with this even as we've had more kids, even though it is no longer an everyday occurrence. Seeing their big brother sitting still, the little ones have learned to sit as well. As you might expect, when he acts up, it can sometimes be a poor example as well. One thing we've noticed is a direct relationship between frequence of "practice" and their ability to do so.

It may sound like we have perfected this training but please rest assured that our children still struggle with sitting still. There are still many reminders and "no's" whenever they are required to sit. There are still many Sundays where we come out of church service disappointed or frustrated because our children did not sit well. They are still in training. The key is to be vigilant and persistent. In the meantime, I eagerly await the day when they surprise and delight me by sitting still with not a single reminder or word of correction.