Thursday, January 16, 2014

5 Ideas to Get Active Boys to Sit Still for a Few Seconds

You know your personality and temperament guide and affect how your parent, right?  I have a classic melancholic temperament - the type that makes parents bemoan the fact that their children behave like children.   

Kids can be loud, fast, and boisterous.  Energetic.  Inquisitive.  I have a love/hate relationship with these words.  I truly want my children to be energetic and inquisitive - that's so much more desirable than the alternative - lazy, bored, needy, apathetic, uninterested, unimpressed and uninspired by the world around them.   But I have to very intentionally hold myself back sometimes from pouncing on this energy, inquisitiveness, and excitement.  I can mistake it for rowdy disobedience and disrespect for home and family.  Sometimes it is, but usually it's not.  Usually it's kids being kids, and the melancholic mom in me - the one who wants her children to read the classics in a cozy corner of the couch before rationally discussing with me the dichotomy between Tom Sawyer's (another active, inquisitive boy) freely spent youth and today's micro-managed after school programs, or the influence of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on the development of Encyclopedia Brown - has to bite her tongue and trust that the uncomfortable feeling in her gut is worth it because kids with properly encouraged energy and enthusiasm will, by the grace of God, mature into motivated, capable, competent, interesting adults.  (Oh please, God!  Please!)

BUT - sometimes I really just need my kids to sit down.  Especially my boys. (And even more especially during the months of the year when, "go outside and burn off this energy" isn't always an option.)  This "just sitting down" is, historically/psychologically/traditionally speaking, often more challenging for boys than girls.  So I've made it a little bit of a project to keep a mental log and a rainy-day stash of stuff for getting my boys to sit still for a few seconds.  

Here are my Top 5 Ideas For Encouraging Boys to Sit Still for a Few Seconds (for the years when they've pretty much outgrown play-doh but don't read all the time yet - which is what I really wish they'd do!):

[1] Legos.  This is probably the most obvious, but it's also my favorite.  I am amazed time and time again with what these kids come up with.  They've received a couple fabulous sets at birthdays and this past Christmas.  But we were also so fortunate when the high school boy down the block knocked on our door two summers ago with a huge bin of random Lego pieces. Things have never been the same. The boys' creativity literally knows no bounds and I love seeing what they construct! 

[2] Consumable Activity Books.  The ones we've really enjoyed so far are Mindware Color By Number (Mindware also has Extreme Dot to Dot books which I'd like to check out eventually) and Kumon Maze Books.  (both are kind of pricey, and I have been known to spend a quiet afternoon here and there erasing all the pencils lines out of the maze books so we can use them again...)

a work still in progress

[3] Other Books with Guided Activities (non-consumable):

Ralph Masiello's Learn to Drawn books - I hope to own a few of these some day, but for now we usually just get the Robots and Bugs books out of the library every couple months.

Ed Emberley's Books - we have Make a World and the Complete Funprint Drawing Book.

Books on Folding Paper Airplanes - I think there are quite a few books on folding paper airplanes, I only mention these two here because they're the ones we've had from the library:

The Paper Airplane Book, Seymour Simon (this one includes a lot on the science of flight - somewhat less of an "activity" book and more of a "science" book, but still good.)

Paper Airplanes - Flight School , Christopher Harbo - I highly recommend this book!!  The boys have spent TONS of time perfecting the various models and even making planes for their sisters. The cool thing about this book is that once you master all the planes in it, you can move on to the next books with higher levels of difficulty - Copilot, Pilot, and Captain.  The only obvious downside to this activity is that your home will be littered with paper airplanes for the rest of the day :(  

Usborne Activity Books - Truth be told, we haven't actually used these yet, so I can't quite offer an honest assessment of their value.  I bought these two books used off of Amazon and am hanging onto them until a needy moment after the baby is born. I've browsed through them - the picture instructions are clear, the written directions are simple enough for my young readers, and I really like the spiral spine feature because the book can lie open on the table and stay on the same page :)

[4] Kids' Craft Box - Thank you Dollar Tree for having everything these boys need to be bizarre and creative for about an hour!  The only rules for our craft box are (1) ask mom first and (2) you clean it all up when you're done.  The box has stuff like tape, string, bottled glue and glue sticks, craft sticks, pom-poms, pipe cleaners, paper doilies, ribbon, buttons, colored paper, stickers, cardboard, etc...  The kids are good about cleaning up so I'm willing to withstand the mess that comes with "independent craft time" for an hour or two.  Most of the time I end up throwing out whatever is created (you can imagine the late-night clandestine trips to the dumpster outside!), but once in a while a gem will appear that's worth keeping!

[5]  Puzzles and Games - I guess this is another obvious one.  Still, it's worth mentioning some favorites around here like Battleship, Jenga, simple card games (like War), checkers, Connect Four, and Spot It.  (my boys are 6 and 7... so not quite ready for Monopoly and Risk.  I'm still waiting for someone to want to play Clue and Pictionary with me...)

So there you have it.  Those are my sit-still ideas.  But you know I'm always filing away other great tips - don't forget to fill me in on your fabulous ideas for encouraging active boys to sit still for a few seconds!   


  1. Lots of great ideas here, I love this and I so understand what you mean about acknowledge they are just being kids but sometimes just 'needing for sanity's sake' that down time.

  2. I love the Mindware coloring book! That would be perfect for my sons to help with their visual issues too!

  3. We love Legos and Ed Emberley! And my boys are on a real Uno kick right now.

  4. Good to know someone who has used the color by number books. I've been considering them for a while but just hadn't made the purchase! Oh, and I totally order the thumbprint book after reading this! I am certain mine will love that! Thanks Theresa!


Like the old song says, "comments are a girl's best friend." Or something like that... So... leave a comment! I love chatting here! Pretend you're on my back porch, kick the broken plastic sandbox toys aside, sip your iced coffee, or beer, or (__fill in the blank with your beverage of choice__) and let's talk about all the things, because back-porch blogging is what I do!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...