HOME arrow HOPE & HEALING arrow Post Adoption Parenting arrow Sit Sessions
Wednesday, 27 January 2021
Sit Sessions Print
Like mini-trampoline jumps, sitting is helpful for a child who needs to center or refocus. Again, this can be used as a consequence for misbehavior, but more often it can simply be a way to slow a hypervigilant, overstimulated brain.

Sitting Protocol

The child sits, looking straight ahead at a blank wall, preferably in a quiet, out of the way space where it is easy to concentrate. Choose the same room the parent is in, particularly for a child who is new to the home. Ask the child to cross his legs, with his knees within a foot of the wall. Many moms report having success with asking the child to rest one hand on each knee. The back is straight, allowing the child opportunity to breathe in maximum oxygen levels to enhance brain activity. The mouth is closed and quiet.

Although this may sound complex, many parents have found it easy to teach by about age 2, if not before, if practiced in the spirit of a game during low stress moments. If there are several children in the home, demonstrate the correct stance and posture and then have the children practice, all at the same time, each in their own space. Start with 30 seconds if the child is young. Walk past each child, commenting on his/her strengths. “Oh, Billy has such a straight, strong back. Julie is keeping her hands on her knees, so still. Mark’s mouth is absolutely quiet.” Over several practice sessions, stretch the sitting time to 45 seconds, then a minute, then 2 minutes, until you reach the number of minutes that correlates to the child’s age; for example, a 3 year old should be able to maintain correct sitting protocol for 3 minutes.

You can encourage children during practice sessions by walking by, commenting on their good sits, and popping a small candy into their mouths at random times during the sit. At the end of a sit session, the parent orally checks down the list of proper sitting techniques. “Oh, my boy has a straight, strong back. (Some parents find it helpful to touch each body part as it is named.) His hands are on his knees. His chin is squared so he can get good oxygen to his brain. His mouth is very quiet.” Then the parent may get close to the child’s eye level and scoop him up in a big hug. “Wow, sweetie! It looks like your heart is getting stronger.”

After the child learns correct sitting protocol, sit sessions may be used for various purposes. Sometimes he feels hyperaroused and just needs some time to refocus. In one illustration, a 3 year old attends his siblings’ piano recital. Although he isn’t hyperactive, his behavior begins to mimic ADHD due to the hypervigilance he feels from the large number of strangers and the unfamiliar building. Even though his mother tries to pull him closer so he can derive calm from her, he is already so overwhelmed by outside stimuli that he struggles to escape her embrace, rendering the technique useless. Since the child experiences sit sessions at home, the mother places him at her feet in the church pew and asks him to do a little sit session. He immediately assumes position. Within minutes the child visibly calms, settling in and obviously beginning to enjoy the recital music. When the mother scoops him up, the child smiles and is able to relax in her arms.

Sit sessions are also effective when the child refuses to obey the parent. At times the defiance carries over into a refusal to sit. No problem. Life continues for the rest of the household. Once the child completes a good sit session, the parent returns him to the original job he was asked to do, as illustrated in this scenario:

“Alec, it’s time to pick up the blocks.”

Alec ignores Mom and dumps out the entire container of blocks.

Mom says, “It looks like you’re not quite ready to make wise choices. No problem. Your heart will feel stronger after a sit session.”

Often the child will immediately assume the sit position. If not, life goes on:

Child moves to where Mom points, but refuses to take the sit position. (If he is unable to stay in the spot, he may need Think Time first.) Remembering to be empathetic, Mom cross-talks to Dad, herself, or the dog. “Oh, it’s too bad that Alec is making a sad choice with his body. He’s missing out on reading that new book that we got from the library.” Mom sits down and reads the book aloud to children who are obeying. Perhaps she follows with a special treat. If no other children are present, she carries on with her work (or gets herself a bowl of ice cream) until the child has completed a sit session.

After the child has successfully finished a sit session, Mom scoops him up in a big hug and says, “Your heart is getting stronger! Are you ready to obey Momma now?” If the child says yes (which he should if the sit was truly successful), he goes to finish the initial task that was asked of him, in this case, picking up blocks. If he says no, Mom may need to return him to sit position, send him to Think Time, hold him, or have him do some jobs for her since his refusal to obey is taking away time and energy from her tasks at hand. Throughout, Mom maintains a spirit of love and empathy.

For additional information on sitting, read When Love is Not Enough by Nancy Thomas, a therapeutic parent and strong sitting master. (Available in-print by ordering from the Nancy Thomas website.)

-A4everFamily in consultation with Kali Miller, PhD

Find additional information on strong sitting:

< Prev   Next >
Top! Top!