My toddler won't sit still! What can I do to encourage my jitter bug to take a break?

If your toddler won't sit still for stories, crafts or meals, first consider if this is really a problem. Toddlers are very busy at their primary job: learning about the world through exploration. Often, the problem is not that the toddler is too active but rather that our society expects young children to be calm and focused before they are really ready. If your toddler will not sit still at a day care or preschool, brainstorm with the care provider or teacher. Some children listen better if they are allowed to rock in a rocking chair or on a rocking board. Others can focus more if they have something to do with their hands, like the adults who doodle through meetings to help them concentrate. Some children respond well to specific cues and can sit calmly if they know that it is for a limited time. A specific mat or pillow may help that child know that now is the time to sit and listen for 15 minutes, after which the child can be active again. Try to find an amount of time your child can remain still and focus on a pleasurable activity, even if it is just for five minutes. Work on gradually extending that time. If your child truly can not ever sit still even for five minutes, consult with your pediatrician.

Candace Lindemann

Children's Author & Education Consultant

Candace Lindemann is a published children’s writer and educational consultant. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. You can also find Candace blogging at While Candace’s degrees prepared her for a career in education, she’s found that the best preparation for parenting is on-the-job training.