Help! How Do I Teach My Child To Be Quiet and Still When Need Be?
I get asked questions about how to help children learn to sit still at church, weddings, funerals, meetings or maybe even a doctors office.
Well, as you know I don't have all the answers, I never went to school and learned child psychology or anything like that but I did listen to what a lot of older women said and I did do a lot of what my mom did.
So with that in mind I'll share a few of my thoughts and maybe a couple of them will help you out.
First of all we all know that what goes on at home goes on everywhere else.
If your children are out of control at home, don't expect anything different when you go out.
But our goal today is just a few ideas to help them sit for a little bit when they need to.
Start by making sure you have some quiet time at home each day, and that happens best when you can have a quiet spirit yourself, our kids feed on what we give out.
What I mean by quiet time is no tv, no computer or cell phone. don't have anything but you, them and your lap.
Read a story and talk in quiet, gentle tones.
Sit outside and listen the earth talk.
Tell them you are just going to practice being quiet and gentle, talk in hushed tones like you would talk it you were out.
When you use the word gentle, stroke their arm softly so they start to understand it means this is a time for quiet slow movement.
Don't underestimate them.
Even a three year old can begin to understand this.
The key is not to make them feel like sitting still is a bad thing, or a punishment , the key is to invite them into feeling big.
Praise them, tell them they are being respectful.
Don't be afraid to use that word even with little ones, even if they don't know the definition , they will be able to pick it up from the way you talk and praise them.
They will begin to learn that what is going on, the meeting the waiting room, the church service or whatever it might be, is to get the attention,... not them and they are being so good to let that happen.
They will begin to learn it's not about them, but in a gentle way.
Try to limit the time you let them watch a movie when they are in the car.
Let them learn to look outside, let them learn to think their own thoughts.
Let them learn to be okay with stillness.
Another thing I think we sometimes do to sabotage ourselves, is we take to much stuff with us when we go.
I never packed hardly any toys to go anywhere if I packed any at all.
Packing toys sounds like a good idea, it sounds like the key.... but more likely than not the toys will lead to trouble.
They will be louder than we thought.
They will drop or throw them.
They will fight over them.
You know how I learned that one?
The hard way, that's how I learned it.
One Sunday at church Mark was preaching, Heidi and Lucas were little, I had both of them on my lap.
Mark was talking about children and he said something about children and sharing.
I kid you not the very time he was saying that Heidi and Lucas were fighting over a loader on my lap and everyone knew it but Mark.
Total mom humiliation.
So, a good rule of thumb is if you take something take what you use in your quiet time at home.
That way when you are at that meeting or church or wherever you can draw them up close and whisper in their ear you're going to have quiet time.
Tell them you are going to practice and how good they are getting at it.
Keep whispering in their ear to reassure them the service or meeting will be coming to a close and when it does, they can get up and run and play.
Another thought and it's simple but yet it's big, when you hold them try not to hold them to where they are looking back behind you.
Try to keep them facing frontwards.
If they are looking behind them they will be a distraction to those who are behind you.
The person might want to pay attention to the speaker or what is going on but who can not pay attention to a little child?
Plus it just opens up more distractions for your child, I'm not saying they can never look behind them I'm just saying make it a practice to keep them facing frontwards.
I'm not saying this will work like a charm the first time, but I am saying, if you put it into practice, if you are calm, if you keep distraction to a minimum, and let them learn to be still and most importantly don't sell them short and think they can't understand, but instead you inspire them to want to be good and quiet and respectful, then you will see it happen,
They are smarter than we give them credit for.