Getting Ready to Sit Down and Focus

Guested Authored By Heather Fite, MS, OTR/L

We have become accustomed to a more sedentary lifestyle: sitting at a desk either at school or work, on the couch to relax, or down for dinner. For most of us adults, we have figured out a way to combat this either by working out, going for a walk during our lunch break, running errands, or being outdoors. How about our kids? They wake up, get ready for school, sit at a desk to learn, sit at a table to eat lunch with their friends, sit some more when they get home so they can do homework, eat dinner, and then go to bed. Most of the time they will choose to sit and play on a screen or watch television rather than getting up and being physically active during their free time. Then we wonder, “Why are they having such a difficult time sitting still and remaining focused?” When what we should be asking ourselves is, “How can we help them increase their focus?”

Here are a few helpful tips on how to help your child increase their regulation in order to better prepare them for the sitting they have to do throughout their daily routine:

  • Yoga – There are so many wonderful benefits to yoga including, but not limited to, increasing sensory regulation, body awareness, postural control and balance, strength and endurance, and full body coordination, as well as decreasing stress, anxiety, fatigue and insomnia.
  • Breathing Activities – Blowing bubbles, blowing up balloons, blowing through a straw to make an object move, etc. By having your child engage in breathing exercises it can improve their blood flow, increase their energy level, and improve their postural control.
  • Get Outside! – Having your child be outdoors has countless benefits to increase their regulation before having to sit down to focus. Some options include playing at the playground, riding their scooter/bike, kicking/throwing a ball around, etc. There are endless opportunities for them to partake in when outside.
  • Animal Walks – Bear walk, frog jump, bunny hop, inch worm, and alligator crawl are just a few animal walks to choose from. They can create their own sequence, choose from a couple different ones, or you can create the sequence for them.
  • Obstacle Course – Get creative! Do you have a tunnel, something for a child to walk around or balance on, or maybe a scooter or trampoline? Do you have a puzzle they can put together, beads to string, or Legos they can build? You can make an obstacle course for them to engage in.
  • Dance Party – What kind of music does your child like? Disney or Kids Bop? Clear some space, crank up the music, and dance! Such a fun and easy way to get their blood moving!

By having your child engage in sensory rich gross motor activities, it allows for their blood and oxygen to move within their bodies and into their brain, which helps increase their focus and attention to a sedentary task. Plus, there are so many other health benefits to encouraging your child to get up and move. Let your child take a break, just make it a movement break, and see what it can do for them!