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Parenting Strategies for a Less Active Child

Some children are not action-oriented. They are happy to sit and play quietly. Find parenting strategies to help your child get more movement in their play times.

A child’s activity level doesn’t mean there is a problem. It’s just how they prefer to interact, explore, and learn. Less active children tend to be “sitters.” They are happy to sit and play quietly. They prefer to:

  • take the world in by looking or listening; and
  • prefer exploring with their hands (using their fine motor skills) instead of their large muscles (arms and legs).

They can often focus their attention for long periods, working on a problem such as how to get the puzzle piece to fit or how to make the clown pop up. Their interest in the things around them can be every bit as intense as an active baby, but they don’t feel the same need to be up and about.

Most kids fall somewhere in the middle. They enjoy running, climbing, and jumping, but they are also happy sitting with a puzzle or a book. They move easily from a quiet activity to a more active one. Here are strategies you can use to encourage your child to move around some more.

Parenting Strategies

  • Respect his pace and style. Offer your child lots of opportunities to play with the things that he enjoys—for example, books, dress-up clothes, puzzles, building blocks, toy figures, etc. (And remember, you still need to baby-proof the house, even if he is not moving around a lot!)
  • Add movement to things she already enjoys. Entice your child to move by holding a favorite toy a little beyond her easy reach or by starting to play with an interesting toy a little beyond where she can easily move.
  • Let your child look before he leaps. If your child prefers watching kids on the climbing gym, let him watch. Then suggest trying something together—like going down the slide on your lap. But always remember to follow your child’s lead, and take it slowly.
  • Play hide-and-seek. When one of you is “found,” entice your child into a chasing game.
  • Listen to music together. It’s easy to shift from listening to dancing if the music moves you!

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with being a “sitter.” As long as your child gets the exercise he needs and can enjoy a range of activities, then he can be happy and healthy.


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