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children sitting still (or not)

(46 Posts)
Bordersgirl57 Tue 13-Aug-19 22:11:38

GC are back to school tomorrow (Scotland) and I have been involved in quite a lot of extra childcare over the summer which has mostly been lovely.

Over the last week week we have taken the two different families of children (one family of 3 and one of 2) to quite a few children's show at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh. My observation is that particularly the under 6's are completely incapable of sitting still! They've always been fidgety at the table but this was just exhausting to watch!

Whether it was having lunch, sitting in the car, watching a show - they just could not sit still. Funnily enough the one that exhibited the most inability to sit still complained that she was tired every time we had to walk a short way.

I think it's just a different generation as I don't remember my boys having too much of a problem sitting still. The funny thing is that all the children go to church so they must have to sit still there.

Anyway, it's been exhausting but lovely but I can't pretend I'm not a wee bit glad it's back to school tomorrow. I take my hat off to those of you who do all the holidays - respect!

BradfordLass72 Wed 14-Aug-19 04:07:21

By coincidence, I have this week visited a local primary school which invited the kaumatua & kuia (elders) to morning tea and to hear them sing songs, one of which had been specially written for us.

There were 460 children of every age in that hall, from the 'babies' at 5, up to the 11 year olds who will next year go to Intermediate schools.

They sat in rows, cross-legged and apart from laughter when the singing teacher told jokes, were generally silent and still.

Perhaps it's something in NZ water? smile

annep1 Wed 14-Aug-19 07:28:07

The children in our local church don't have to sit still. They can play in the aisle with toys. They go out to children's church after the first hymn. So maybe your gc do that and don't have to sit still.
We didn't have children's church. We were told to sit still and we did.
I wonder do they have to sit still at school.

M0nica Wed 14-Aug-19 08:23:51

Children have always been fidgety, but in the past parents and adults came down on you like a ton of bricks, if you kept getting up from your seat, or ran around in church, this was absolutly unacceptable behaviour so you did not do it incase you got a quick smack or other sanction, but you then sat on your seat wriggling and moving.

I can remember sitting on a chair looking down on the 5 & 6 year olds, who were cross legged on the floor during school assembly. The floor was a sea of movement as children shifted their bodies around moved their hands, their heads, every part, while still remaining cross legged looking and listening(?) to the head teacher.

There was a news item this week to say that fidgetting is good for children .

Children have always fidgetted to much the same extent, it is more that how far that fidgetting can go - standing up and moving round nowadays, when requirements to sit still aremore lax, but wriggling just as much while sitting in previous generations.

Iam64 Wed 14-Aug-19 08:37:21

Thirty years ago our local theatre put on a production of Dennis Potter's 'those blue remembered hills'. The cast spent some time at our children's primary school, observing the children as the play has adults playing children. After watching the brilliant play, the cast joined the audience in the bar (a tradition at this theatre). On famous cast member told us how much he'd enjoyed the play and the preparation for it. He said he'd forgotten till his week observing 6 - 8 year olds at the school that 'boys of that age are never ever still'. He said they twitch, fidget, wriggle in their seats etc.
We've done more child care this week, 3 and 4 year old grandsons and yes, they're rarely ever still. Especially the 3 year old. I found taking them to the park and letting them race about for an hour twice a day helped!

PBroon Wed 14-Aug-19 10:20:30

My mum used to say that children are like dogs — they need to be taken out for a good run and some fresh air every day, come rain or shine. There are also lots of kids who just don't function unless they are allowed to move around. Sir Ken Robinson tells a wonderful story in his Ted talk, about Gillian Lynne, the dancer and choreographer, who was thought to be educationally subnormal until her parents were advised to encourage her dancing. Not sure if it's ok to post links here, but I'll give it a go:

Nannarose Wed 14-Aug-19 10:33:33

I have never lived in a family where children sat still! Good manners, yes; ask to get down from the table, yes; ask if you may go outside / play hide-and-seek, yes; but still still for longer than it takes to eat one course, never!
Everyday dinner, children were allowed to take fruit when they had finished their main meal, or return later. Family dinner, they were allowed to say thank you, ask to get down, clear their place, then play until grown-ups called them for pudding.
Most children's shows have lots of moving about built in so that they can enjoy them.
It is true that our family are all very physical and sporty and everyone moves about a lot. We all have different expectations!
We have no religion and my children had no real idea about services. We were invited to a christening which we felt important to attend. I told the 3 year old that he should do his best to sit still and be quiet. Why on earth was I surprised that when we stood up to sing a hymn, he tugged at the person next to him and said 'sit down and be quiet'!!
I amended my advice after that!
I would add that I already notice that 8m old GC is much less 'wriggly' than his 2 cousins at that age - I shall watch with interest!

Greciangirl Wed 14-Aug-19 10:37:42

I think it’s too much to expect a 3 and 4 year old to sit still for any length of time.
I know I would love my 4 year old dgs to sit still for a wee while. Although he is getting better for story time.
They just have too much energy.

MissAdventure Wed 14-Aug-19 10:41:09

I agree with M0nica.
My mum was the original 'ton of bricks'.

It's just part of doing as your told as a child, ready for when you're an adult.

Neilspurgeon0 Wed 14-Aug-19 10:41:13

Can I just support M0nica in her report that this may be very useful to try to counteract the also endlessly reported obesity epidemic in school age children who now are so often restricted in what they are allowed to do in their break and free time. When I was a kid, sixty plus years ago, we were never in, out of the house from morning till night running, climbing, cycling, rushing about. No wonder that, combined with a fairly limited calorie intake, we were both thin as rakes and fit as fleas.

sluttygran Wed 14-Aug-19 10:42:29

Children are not meant to sit still - it’s not normal.

EllanVannin Wed 14-Aug-19 10:51:42

I was never particularly still as a child, only when firmly told to do so. Then I was on the go as a teenager, had a job ( nurse ) where I was never still rarely sitting and it followed for the rest of my life. Even now I can't " settle " for above 5 minutes as for whatever reason I'm up and down like a fiddlers elbow.
Result is that I've only gained 1/2 a stone throughout my life !

Relaxing isn't my life-style. Even my mind doesn't take a break.

Hm999 Wed 14-Aug-19 10:54:48

DGD was taken to shows, displays and theatre at very young age (before 1st birthday), and will sit still throughout despite youngsters around her not doing so. Imo it depends on what experience they've had previously.

Scribbles Wed 14-Aug-19 11:12:49

Like M0nica, I was kept firmly in order as a child but, even now, find it very difficult and uncomfortable to sit still for more than a few minutes. I rarely go to the theatre or cinema, partly because I know my fidgeting is a distraction for other people. Legs crossing and un-crossing, slumping in the chair then wriggling upright, weight shifting from one buttock to the other ... Even while relaxed at home with a good book, I'm constantly moving in my chair.
I've no idea why I'm like this but comfort myself with the thought that I'm unlikely to get pressure sores from sitting!

Conker Wed 14-Aug-19 11:23:08

My Grandchildren are never still unless it’s nap time . My children were the same .

Kate51 Wed 14-Aug-19 11:25:06

I found the same thing as you Hm999 I took my daughter to plays and shows from a very early age. Never had any problems getting her to sit still and watch, despite kids around her, chatting, eating and moving around.

Brightphoebus Wed 14-Aug-19 12:08:55

There is increasing evidence that children NEED to move a lot for the brain - not just the motor part of the brain but the language and cognitive bits too - to develop properly. Twirling, rocking, crawling and back and forth movements are particularly beneficial. The curriculum in schools nowadays emphasises sitting still and 'learning'. PE and games in Primary schools have less time allocated to them.

I think the posters who recall the times when we were out all day in the street or the parks are on to something. It'd be hard to prove but my feeling is we got a lot of our vestibular brain input that way, whereas today's children are much more sedentary.

paddyann Wed 14-Aug-19 12:31:37

I 've never had a problem with mine sitting throug a meal or a church service.As catholics we went to mass as babies and were used to sitting for an hour..or more.My GC have been brought up the same.When the two oldest were 6 and 2 we went to the new baby's christening in a church of a different denomination where the children were all taken to Sunday school .The teacher came to collect mine and was quite disapproving when I said they would stay with me and be fine.
The service was great ,they stood when everyone else did they sat when they should and they sang along with the hymn.My 2 year old GD sang Twinkle Twinkle and my GS sang a variety of words he thought fit the tune.
When we came out of the church I was approached by several ladies who congratulated me on the behaviour of my wee people .We've always taken them to restauarants and they join in conversation and are happy to choose real food from menus .They will be what you bring them up to be .

Iam64 Wed 14-Aug-19 12:41:34

Not all 'will be what your bring them up to be'. Some children have particular reasons for fidgeting -adhd for example. We can help them but they're unlikely to be able to achieve perfection (if that's what we're looking for)

glammanana Wed 14-Aug-19 12:51:19

I have noticed quite a differance in my 2 x GGCs,when they visited over the weekend little GGD aged 3 was like a whirling dervish talk about ants in your pants she was everywhere but by no means naughty just couldn't keep still whilst her brother was enjoying sitting at his daddy's side playing with his toys and not so much as a murmer whilst he played,she however was from the lounge/kitchen/garden in the dogs kennel/chasing the cat I was dizzy watching her.
However they are both very well behaved when out eating she will choose what she likes to eat mainly fresh veg and salads she will eat with a knife and fork and never fingers as I have seen many a time when in restaurants.

EllanVannin Wed 14-Aug-19 12:57:17

I think the girls are more the " movers " than boys.
Mum gave me an horrendous Steedmans EE powder because she thought I had worms !
GGD's are live-wires too.

SueDonim Wed 14-Aug-19 13:00:03

It's just what children do, I think, move around. They're busy people! One of my GS's never sits down except to eat. He's been fidgety since the day he was born. We first saw him at about 24hrs old and even then he was wriggly and waving all his limbs about and was so very strong. Nothing has changed except he's bigger now.

My youngest grandchild almost rolled off an examination table after she was born, she was so active. The midwife was quite shocked!

It's what's known in this house as Ballbearing Bum syndrome. grin

grandtanteJE65 Wed 14-Aug-19 13:06:46

I too think it is a matter of upbringing, we were taught to sit still before we started school at the age of five. Today's children are not.

Some don't even sit still in church, but run around disturbing everyone, but none of us dare complain as someone would be bound to fling the text, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me." at us it we do.

WOODMOUSE49 Wed 14-Aug-19 13:13:22

As an ex primary teacher, until recently, sitting still is not the norm. It would never be insisted on. Perhaps the stillest times would be listening to story being read. If it's one they are engrossed with!


Two hours a week is recommended for PE in primary schools but many I know do a session (5 mins) to get up and move. I used to have time out sessions with a different activity each time e.g, get up and shake as many hands as you can / chant the rhyme of the day.

SueDonim Wed 14-Aug-19 13:41:48

Would it be better if all these active, fidgeting children were instead sitting down looking at screens?

It seems to me parents today can't do right for doing wrong. If their children are active they should made to sit down. If their children are sitting down they should be made to be active. confused

MissAdventure Wed 14-Aug-19 14:44:20

Its all about the time and place though, isn't it?

M0nica Wed 14-Aug-19 14:48:55

I was a very figgetty child, I was castigated on all sides as 'Fidgetty Phil, who can't sit still'. According to my family, nothing has changed. I still am fidgetty and cannot sit still.

annep1 Wed 14-Aug-19 14:52:41

Thanks for the info Woodmouse.
And no it wouldn't Sue Donim. But there are times when I think its ok to expect children to sit still.

gillyknits Wed 14-Aug-19 15:59:19

That really rang a bell in this house Bordersgirl! I’m looking after my two grandchildren this week. (Nine year old girl and six yer old boy.) I’ve found that the attention span of a six year old is, at most twenty minutes, whereas a girl of the same age is much longer. There is a big exception to that and that’s when the boy is playing any game on a tablet. He could sit for hours and even forgets to go for a wee. (Not that he is allowed to in this house!)

quizqueen Wed 14-Aug-19 16:31:30

I find that rewarding those who make the effort to sit still and behave with ice creams or the like, while the ones who ran off just have to watch them enjoy it, usually works wonders the next time I take the grandchildren out! It's called discipline. Rewards work much better than all those empty threats I often hear parents etc. use, I find!

granny4hugs Wed 14-Aug-19 17:09:44

Funny - I think the problem with most children is that they sit still far too much. The issue is concentration which is a different thing all together.
Shows and lunches for the under 6s? Nah. Parks. Woods. Seaside. THen when they are good and worn out - lots of books and not much TV.

sarahanew Wed 14-Aug-19 17:11:43

My GC fail to sit still through a whole meal. When asked say they've finished, go off and find something else to do, then come back hungry when it's cleared away and end up snacking. When I was little and with my own children, you sat at the table untul everyone had finished. You rarely snacked as you'd eat a good meal

Saggi Wed 14-Aug-19 18:09:15

My grandson 12 is more than capable of sitting still as long as he has a book ( yes a book not tech) in his hands.My 7 year old granddaughter in the other hand has what we’ve always called ‘a rootle bum’.... she is so full of energy she seems incapable. They do seem to grow out of fidgeting...eventually!

trendygran Wed 14-Aug-19 18:26:53

My 5 year old granddaughter also finds it very hard to sit still for long.Just wondering how she will manage on an 8 hour flight to Canada this weekend! Thankfully,much as I would love to visit Canada again after 15 years, that will be the problem for my DD and SIL.!

Magrithea Wed 14-Aug-19 18:33:33

Our 5 year old (almost) DGS cannot sit still!! We've taken him and his sister to panto the last two years and took them to see 'Toy Story 4' last week and he wriggled and fidgeted all through it all! He sits still in the car but otherwise is very active. It's an age thing I think grin

seadragon Wed 14-Aug-19 22:51:46

My grandma used to say I had 'ants in my pants' as I could never 'bide at peace'.....

GagaJo Wed 14-Aug-19 23:20:44

I think it depends on the child. My daughter would sit happily at 18 months drawing / painting. My grandson brings a book to be read to him, and is off again after a page.

In school, my 14 year old students have to be told, firmly, several times NOT to walk around the classroom until they grasp that I'll punish them if they continue to do so. And yet, they're strangely unable to put their hands up, to get the very vital thing they needed to get out of their chair to get!

4allweknow Thu 15-Aug-19 00:00:22

It's a modern thing. Children aren't encouraged/expected to sit still in our society. Anyone asking a child to sit still will almost be seen as committing physical abuse. For goodness sake you will be stifling their creativity and need to be able to express themself. Whatever you do, don't expect them to behave, have manners and respect others, it's too much trouble for parents to bother with. Have a look round a supermarket, they aren't even expected to walk in there.

crazyH Thu 15-Aug-19 00:37:36

Went with whole family to London last weekend. Included were 2 boisterous 4 year olds, a crying almost 2year old and an 8 month old baby. It was nice to have all the family together but it was beyond stressful. They were running around on the train,restaurants. Etc. I certainly don't remember mine ever being as hyper as them.

Hetty58 Thu 15-Aug-19 01:46:54

Some very bad memories still persist of being made to sit still at school and at the dinner table. It's unnatural for children to remain still (unless asleep).

Education has moved on to being a little more child-friendly now. I never expected my four to sit at the table any longer than they wanted to.

As adults, they don't have the uneasy 'trapped' feelings or claustrophobia that I do.

Hetty58 Thu 15-Aug-19 01:48:24

I remember my mother asking my little brother why he couldn't sit still. His reply 'The chair is flat and my bottom is round!'

oodles Thu 15-Aug-19 08:35:00

Our vicar says God out the Wiggles in children they are very welcome,, a other said no problems with them moving around, just take their noisy shoes off.

crazyH Thu 15-Aug-19 21:36:38

Hetty. clever little brother - is he a Barrister now ?

Hetty58 Thu 15-Aug-19 21:49:13

crazyH, no, just a retired technician with a keen sense of humour. He really tried to answer the endless questions (rather than ignoring them).

I've carefully avoided all the major mistakes my parents made - and probably just made different ones of my own. I was so laid back as a parent that they weren't exactly sure that I cared!

M0nica Fri 16-Aug-19 20:12:35

I was incapable of sitting still as a child, but I would stay in my seat because I knew I would be in trouble if I left it without permission. But I would wriggle and jiggle while sitting on said chair.

MissAdventure Fri 16-Aug-19 20:48:40

Me too.
Apart from if I was reading; then I sniffed constantly.