Having a child that doesn’t want to sit still can be frustrating for parents. However, telling them to sit still all the time might not be the best solution! In fact, getting your child moving and active can actually help them sit still in the long run.
At this point, you’re probably wondering exactly how that theory works. A 2017 study that was published in the Pediatrics journal found that physical activity can help improve classroom behavior and even boost academic achievement in math and reading.
By allowing little ones to move when antsy, they’ll reduce their excess energy and in turn focus better. If possible, it’s always a great idea to do something active right before your child needs to focus for a bit. So how can you help your child harness their energy in a productive way? Here are three ways to encourage movement to help your child focus.
1. Go for a walk.
Get outside and start moving with your little one. Doing something together can give you special time together to explore your neighborhood. You can even make things educational by identifying the nature you see. Try to name as many birds or insects you can as you walk. This way, not only are you active, but you’re also learning about something new.
2. Set up a backyard playground.
By encouraging play, you’re also encouraging the production of serotonin and dopamine. Both of these neurotransmitters are critical when it comes to focus, attention, and impulse control. Thus, playing outside can, in turn, have a calming effect on your little one. Set up an outdoor play haven for them that encourages activity and movement. They will be able to focus on several different cognitive skills as they focus their energy on playing. Swinging, climbing, and sliding are great ways to get moving and by having a space dedicated to this, it makes active time fun and easy. Besides the standard outdoor play area setups, you can even include other toys to encourage balance and movement such as a mini coaster. Too cold outdoors? You can always bring toys inside to create an indoor playground and get a similar effect!
3. Join a sports team.
If your child is old enough, see if there is any local team, they can join. By doing this, you are also encouraging them to play with peers. Can’t find a team, or don’t have time for practice? You can even go to the backyard and play a game of catch or kick a ball with your child. This still helps them move and learn how to play with others. Plus, you get to spend some extra time with them too!
Time is an important factor as well. Remember to be patient if your child likes to be constantly moving. As you encourage movement, their excess energy will decrease and their ability to sit still and focus will increase. Try to have at least an hour of playtime each day (even if it is in smaller increments). Every child is different, so find what activities your child enjoys and start encouraging the time to burn off excess energy!