And that’s actually not that surprising…but there are definitely certain situations when the expectation is to sit up straight and listen quietly. So the best thing to do is to give your kids some tricks to help them remember the expectations, options to release that release energy, or help keep them awake, but are acceptable and appropriate for the setting they are in.
As a general rule, I tend to get a bit animated and talk with my hands. When I was little, my mother would always make me sit on my hands-which, in retrospect, was genius. One especially chatty morning sitting in church,
I was immediately told to sit on my hands…and then I immediately tried to pull my hands out so I could talk…because if I was talking, I was moving my hands. Since they were stuck, I remembered that I wasn’t supposed to be talking. I think I did it about 20 times in that 45 minute service, but it worked. I didn’t talk. I hated it, but I didn’t talk.
Well played, mother. Well played.
Here’s some other options you can try for your kids in different settings
for different ages. Experiment with each one and see what works best for them. If you’d like your child to try them in class to help them focus, just let their teacher know, and I’m sure you will have their support.
- Fidgets: Fidgets are basically a modern day twiddling of thumbs, but their purpose is to release energy without distracting others. The moment they become a distraction for others you need to try a new option (especially if they are distracting other students, then they are no longer an option in class). Sometimes the appropriateness of the fidget will depend on the age of your child, but I’ll just give you some suggestions and you can try ones you think might work.
- If the room/classroom is carpeted, they can softly tap their feet flat on the floor.
- Similarly, they can tap their fingers quietly on their thighs. Perhaps get some piano practice in!
- They can wear a bracelet or hair tie that can be left on the arm, but can use their other hand to play with it.
- Some teachers may allow physical therapy bands to be tied to the bottoms of the chair legs so your child can swing their legs against them (and really work those quads!).
- Things like stress balls, small Koosh balls, or pencil toppers that can double as something to keep their hands busy so their minds can focus. Just remind your child that if it becomes a distraction for others, it will no longer be allowed.
This is a good option for older students as long as they learn to use it appropriately and at the right times. Some kids find it easier to focus on things they are listening to if they are drawing little sketches.
- Make sure your child knows that they should only be drawing things that are age/school appropriate. (Even if it’s a stick figure, it should not be topless or holding a gun.) …Fair warning mothers of boys: As a 6th grade teacher, I’m convinced that it is an unwritten rule that before Christmas break of their first year in middle school, every boy learns how to draw an anatomically correct penis and shares their new skill freely. Yes, even your angel. It’s an unwritten rule.
- If in school, explain that he/she should only be doodling when there is nothing else that he/she should be doing like taking notes, following along in a text, completing a worksheet…
- If their doodles become a distraction to others around them, then they will no longer be allowed to doodle. Yes, even if it’s not their fault.
- Gum: With the teacher’s permission, and if he/she is mature about it (can chew the gum without blowing bubbles, popping it, or making everyone else in the room jealous) chewing gum is one of the easiest ways to channel excess energy so your child can focus on what is being taught. Outside of school, it can be a great incentive for good behavior as well!
Can’t hurt to try ’em in or out of school! If you think they might help at school, just remember to keep the lines of communication open with your child’s teacher so that they can support your child and make sure they are using these tools to help them focus and channel energy and NOT accidentally get off task, avoid doing work, or to distract others.
Any other genius mom’s or teachers out there? What tips/tricks do you have?