Recently I was asked how we have managed what seems to be the impossible...getting our two year old to sit quietly. If you know Brown Sugar well enough you will understand that this is not an easy task. She is an observant, curious little girl with incredible amounts of energy.
We are teaching and training her like we have trained all the rest of our kiddos...at home. We learned early on with our oldest that training in the public is not a good idea. And, what better way to spend my day as a mommy then teaching disciplines that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
So, where do you start? Well, a lot earlier then we did! We began teaching our other children when they were about six to nine months old. When they can sit up in our laps. But, with Brown Sugar we did not have the first year with her so we were a bit behind.
While at home I would hold her in my lap facing forward. We chose this position because it seemed the least distractive for those folks sitting behind us. Brown Sugar still finds a way to snuggle even though she is facing forward. Sometimes we allow her to recline in our arms but the idea is that she does not look behind us.
We start training during family worship, when guests are over, or just whenever I have a moment. The idea is to do nothing but sit. If she talks I quietly lean over and whisper in her ear that it is time to be quiet. I never say shhh since that can be even more disruptive then the child's behaviour. Sometimes I will put my finger over my lips and then over hers. It is kind of like our own sign language (I also made up another sign where I point my index finger to my eyes and then to the object that I want the child to pay attention to).
If the child just starts screaming I would put my hand over her mouth and firmly but quietly say that her behaviour is not acceptable and she needs to stop. This works for us. If you have a child that you are just starting to train in this area you might expect more behaviour problems at first but don't give up.
We also "strong hold". It is the idea of holding your child in a bear hug. The ideal position is with the child sitting face forward on your lap. Typically they will resist and start getting upset. You continue to hold them tightly until they relax. It is in the relaxing that you praise them and then turn them around and snuggle with them. Why would we do this? We think it is a safe way to remind them that they need to trust us and submit to us as the parent. We have done this with all of our children. I think it has made our relationships stronger.
So, back to training to sit quietly. I expect some squirming especially at the end of a long service but the child is always directed to sit and look forward. Sometimes I will let them play with my fingers or my rings. We need to be reminded that our children will strive to live up to the expectations that we set for them and sometimes we just set the bar too low.
For instance, this past Sunday Brown Sugar was getting a bit restless by the time the service was wrapping up. We still had a few minutes more and so I gently whispered that I knew she had sat still for such a long time but she needed to sit for a few minutes more and wait for the time that she can go run around. Some might think it was silly for me to have this conversation with a two year old but I figure that she can understand my tone and some of the words and I am training myself to be a thoughtful, kind parent.
Another thought. One of the basic foundational principles of our training is that we train for the future and not for the moment. Training for the future reaches the heart. Training for the moment is just self satisfying for the parent and raises ungodly, self-focused children.
In regards to sitting quietly, we feel that we are not only thinking of others but also training for future self discipline in the child. For the child to give up their own desires for those of the parent is one of the most important lessons that we can teach our children.