how to teach preschooler to sit at one place

Vandana - posted on 07/02/2012 ( 15 moms have responded )

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i am having 3 and half year old son. I am worried because my son does not sit at one place when we go out. he does not sit even in scool. there is always complaint from his teacher that he goes on running in classroom, climbs window etc. I want to teach discipline to my son. i want him to sit and listen to his teacher in scool. How can i help my son to sit at one place?

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Laura - posted on 07/10/2012

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Like I said in my earlier post, sensory issues does not mean an autism diagnosis but I think you need to look at the behavior and figure out why he can't sit still. Is it merely a power of wills going on? Then work on discipline. Is it a fact that his body is just too young and too much in motion to sit still? Then work on sensory issues. I agree that you need to work on boundaries and be consistent in that but if you are doing that and it's not working out you need to look into whether or not there's a sensory issue. It's a very real thing.
One thing you could do is sit down with the teacher and work together on strategies that you can both do at school and at home. If those strategies don't work, go on to the next thing to try. And don't forget to praise him on the good behavior. A lot of times if you make a big deal out of the good things they are "caught" doing, they will want to do more. Just please don't chalk this behavior issue up to him being a bad kid. I hate when parents say that. Just keep working at it and trying different things. Good luck and God bless!

Carol - posted on 07/10/2012

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3 is plenty old enough to be expected to sit in certain situations like meals or a quick storytime. The carpet squares are a common tool used in daycare, library, or preschools. They are not just for animals. Like the first person commenting said, it shows an obvious boundary. Before I had kids I had the misfortune to go out to eat with some friends of mine. They thought their 3 year old daughter was fine to scream at the top of her lungs and run around the restaurant without supervision because "she was only 3." She was a nuisance to every paying customer and a hazard to herself, every member of the waitstaff, and every patron who could have had hot food poured onto them as she ran under the waitstaff. My husband and I swore that we would never do that if we had kids. Fast forward a few years and we had our own. When our boys were each about 2 they went through the antsy phase. We'd work off energy before going out. We'd take them for walks outside the restaurant if they were too restless to sit through the meal until the food came. We left if they were too loud or restless after that. They learned to behave pretty quick.

Be consistant with your son. Have him sit with you as you read stories or for meals at home. Don't allow privileges like going out until he can behave and let him know that you're waiting on him. Bribe him with places that he likes to go and be ready to leave if he misbehaves. At home make sure he's playing safe. Jumping on window sills can get him killed or seriously injured. Just set limits and have consequences for both good and bad behavior.

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Julie - posted on 08/12/2012

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I agree, he is only three. But there is no reason he can not sit still for 5-10 minutes. The rest of the class (boys included) seem to be able to do so. Why should he be allowed to behave differently? Unless he has an undiagnosed behavior disorder the reason he does not stay put is because you are not giving him boundaries, teaching him manners and behavior appropriate to the situation, or ultimately, respect for others.

You can give him something to occupy his time in the chair. (I let my boys chose one toy and book, before heading out) Meanwhile, dining is a time to teach your child. You teach him inside voice, table manners, napkin use, please and thank yous how to look at menu's place orders, we had fun with our three year olds "playing restaurant" at the restaurant.

In between time he can play @ the table with his toy of choice, or snack (always have healthy snack for boys)

My husband and I always "blocked" the perimeter of the table so it would be difficult for them should they try to escape. They'd stand up, we'd firmly sit them down and explain. "Three strikes you are out" was the rule. On rare occasion, removal by parent was necessary and the boy was taken outside, but the more we taught them the easier the routine became. We also rewarded good dining behavior with dessert and lots of praise. Even waiters/waitresses complement my boys for their manners when dining out.

Let him "up to run around" for washing hands, use bathroom, and clean up. This is a supervised appropriate time way from the table. It allows him to have some freedom and again, teaches him good hygiene and dining habit.

The preschool my boys attended basically told the children who did not listen, follow instruction or sit when asked to be still was that they would lose the outside playground privilege. They would end up alone, with an aide in the classroom, and that was never fun. With most of the kids it worked. But with the children who did not have boundaries or consequences in the home, it took them much longer to learn, and some never did.

I would speak and work with your preschool instructors on ways to carry over what they are trying to teach him in the home. I always gained good advice from my boys teachers, and after all we are in it together.

Renee - posted on 07/15/2012

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We have some small preschool size chairs. I have lined my little ones up in them and put a story on CD so they have something to listen to. We start small, five minutes, then ten, then fifteen. I have found this "sit training" so useful in a dozen different situation. It really is a matter of practice makes perfect.

Lisa - posted on 07/10/2012

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This can't be said enough. Good call, Laura Hall!

"And don't forget to praise him on the good behavior. A lot of times if you make a big deal out of the good things they are "caught" doing, they will want to do more. Just please don't chalk this behavior issue up to him being a bad kid. I hate when parents say that. Just keep working at it and trying different things. Good luck and God bless!"

Laura - posted on 07/10/2012

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Like I said in my earlier post, sensory issues does not mean an autism diagnosis but I think you need to look at the behavior and figure out why he can't sit still. Is it merely a power of wills going on? Then work on discipline. Is it a fact that his body is just too young and too much in motion to sit still? Then work on sensory issues. I agree that you need to work on boundaries and be consistent in that but if you are doing that and it's not working out you need to look into whether or not there's a sensory issue. It's a very real thing.
One thing you could do is sit down with the teacher and work together on strategies that you can both do at school and at home. If those strategies don't work, go on to the next thing to try. And don't forget to praise him on the good behavior. A lot of times if you make a big deal out of the good things they are "caught" doing, they will want to do more. Just please don't chalk this behavior issue up to him being a bad kid. I hate when parents say that. Just keep working at it and trying different things. Good luck and God bless!

Lisa - posted on 07/10/2012

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As for all the folks saying this child may fall somewhere on the Autism spectrum. Give me a break. 3 year olds are full of energy and until they are taught how and when to channel it, they will be all over the place. This is NORMAL behavior for a typically developing child. Her son just needs to be taught appropriate behavior. JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER THREE YEAR OLD.

Lisa - posted on 07/10/2012

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Carol Thompson gave the best advice so far.

I was going to post nearly the same thing, but she beat me to it and did a fine job of it. I'm going to highlight the parts I thought most helpful.

(Originally posted by Carol Thompson):
"When our boys were each about 2 they went through the antsy phase. We'd work off energy BEFORE going out. We'd TAKE THEM FOR WALKS OUTSIDE THE RESTAURANT if they were too restless to sit through the meal until the food came. WE LEFT if they were too loud or restless after that. They learned to behave pretty quick.

Be CONSISTANT with your son. Have him sit with you as you read stories or for meals at home. DON'T ALLOW PRIVILEGES LIKE GOING OUT UNTIL HE CAN BEHAVE AND LET HIM KNOW YOU'RE WAITING ON HIM. Bribe him with places that he likes to go and BE READY TO LEAVE IF HE MISBEHAVES. At home make sure he's playing safe. Jumping on window sills can get him killed or seriously injured. JUST SET LIMITS AND HAVE CONSEQUENCES FOR BOTH GOOD AND BAD BEHAVIOR."

I will add this: Too many parents think "consequences" should only be brought into play for bad behavior. As Carol pointed out, this is not so. Kids should know there are GOOD consequences for GOOD behavior. My kids also learned pretty quickly that going out with Mom was a privilege that depended on them exhibiting appropriate behavior. I think it only took 3-4 times each of us leaving something early for them to realize that.

Threenorns - posted on 07/10/2012

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talk to the teacher: ask her if she would consider your son's behaviour to be outside normal ranges. if so, he needs to be assessed as quickly as possible. my daughter's teacher had the same complaint - she's 5yrs old and was just diagnosed with asperger's.

Pamela - posted on 07/10/2012

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Perhaps he is not ready to do so and to DEMAND that he do so would instill emotional harm and scars that he would have to deal with later. Not all children are pre-school material, nor is such an experience required.

I vote for letting your son be free a bit longer and not be required to sit for extended periods. Perhaps if you are a working mom you can consider hiring a good private sitter for the same monthly price you pay the pre-school. If you are a stay-at-home mom you can work with teaching him to sit still while you are reading him stories or sitting with him as he colors or does other craft tasks.

When going out choose restaurants that have play areas for children. Three is very young to insist on sitting still for extended periods. He should begin to show more self-control as he gets older. Society does enough to damage our sense of well being as we grow, don't join in that fray! If he is still displaying this behavior at 4.5, then concern can be legitimate....but not at 3 years of age!

Kathy - posted on 07/10/2012

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I have a son with sensory issues and he never could sit. Before tyring to discipline you child for his behavior make sure he is capable of the behavior. Disciplining a child for something that he cannot control will only wreck his self esteem. My son was capable of standing and working on artwork at preschool but he just could not sit. This continiued through half way through the 1st grade. He was later diagnosed with adhd and is an exceptional bright child. But talk to you doctor (or the school) and see if he can be tested for sensory issues first. Many boys are like this. This is more of a norm than an exception.

Laura - posted on 07/08/2012

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He might have a sensory issue that makes it difficult for him to sit still. Lots of sensory overload (lights, noise, etc) can make a young child antsy. It's almost like a nervous tick. There are weighted vests and lap pillows, fidgety toys, head phones, etc. that can help a lot in situations where he needs to be still. Check out Therapy Shoppe.com They might have some tools. Something as simple as a squishy toy from the dollar store. Anything to keep his hands/mind occupied. And you might consider having your child checked for sensory processing disorder. Doesn't mean a label of ADHD or Autism but it could help teachers understand and make necessary accomodations.

Kitty - posted on 07/08/2012

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He is only 3 years old! Let the kid be a 3 year old and stop treating him as if he is older! Tell the teacher the same thing...tell her to get him a small yoga ball that he can stay in one place and bounce if she doesn't like the fact he gets up....HE IS ONLY 3!

As for out to eat and such, tell him before you go in that we sit in our seat..tell him he can wiggle, or go from his rear to sitting on his legs....and if he feels like he has to get up and move to let you know....and YOU get up and go outside with him for a minute or two, let him run and then go back in.

Boys tend to NEED to move more. Do not have unrealistic expectations for a 3 year old kid. Practice at home at the dinner table of what he can and can not do in public...and be consistent...yelling and getting angry does not help, but if you feel yourself getting to that point..stop and tell him that YOU need a time out. This will also teach him that time out is a good thing to gather thoughts and a good place to go when you just need to calm down.

Also, if you can let him climb, jump, tumble, or roll BEFORE you go out, it will help his sensory system to wind down more.

Kylie - posted on 07/03/2012

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I know that every parent has a different method but getting him a piece of square carpet seem like something you would do for a animal and i dont believe treating him like that would help.

My son use to be the same, he still doesnt like to do what he is told when we go out, he runs around and doesnt listen. But when he is at home things are much better as we have rules in place that he has to follow. Have you tried setting rules for the house will make sure he is doing the right thing in the house then he will learn that when he goes to school and other peoples houses he has to do the same thing. If you do set rules do it one at atime or they will just confuse him. you can inckude things that will help him to sit still and when you go out set 2 or 3 small rules and if he follows them then reward him.
You could also try activties to help and make him sit still like... Drawing a picture, watching a movie, playing quietly with his toys. These are some of the things that helped my son learn to sit still. Hope this help, Goodluck with everything.

Louise - posted on 07/02/2012

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Buy a carpet sample square and tell him that is his seat. He will be more inclined to sit if he can see a space and know he has to sit on it.

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