Wholeness Healing Today

Strong Sitting: Teaching Modulation

Lately I have been approached by parents and concerned relatives about the practice of “strong sitting” and what the intention really is with this exercise. Let’s weigh the merits of it in relationship to disciplining children and how we can make an opportunity available for kids to learn how to self-modulate.

In 2003, Janie Watson and I presented a workshop to the Omaha Public Schools about Strong Sitting (Really Giving Kids Something to Think About) where we introduced the idea to teachers as a “tool to help children learn to have internal locus of control”. Nancy Thomas had used Strong Sitting with aggressive, oppositional and reactive children with good results. As I look at that now, I find that I still believe that premise. In fact, we have become even more “electronic” and our children are spending more time than ever in front of computers, XBoxes, PS 3’s, and handheld electronic games, and are spending less time reading, involved in exercise outside, and experiencing less personal interaction than ever before.

We purposed then that the practice of Strong Sitting could actually help children (and adults, too) with self-modulation. Children who live in chaotic, neglectful, abusive, or over-stimulated households rarely learn how to self-modulate. It is imperative that we, as adults, make this available to them. The practice of “Strong Sitting” can be easily taught and can be set up as a regular routine in one’s house. Strong Sitting is the practice of allowing a child to sit, cross-legged, back straight and head up, approximately 1 minute for each year of age, uninterrupted. Mmmm, sounds like a Yoga position, right? Very similar. And with very similar results. If the child is allowed to sit quietly, the child will be able to think about what has transpired, what needs to happen, and can better internalize choices. Not only that, children learn what we as adults know: in times of chaos, we need to be able to step away or back, gather ourselves together, and quiet our internal voices.

So in the midst of writing this article, a mom brought in to me another article, this one by Deborah Hage (Teaching Self-Control to Children Out of Control) which is of course about the very same thing. Only she drives home the point that people question the merits of Strong Sitting. Her claim is that it is about allowing a child the opportunity to learn self-control. BINGO!

So when you consider that the practice is good, helps a child to learn self control and modulation, and can actually de-escalate a situation, how can that be a bad thing? It actually is poorer parenting to let a child “run amuck” with no rules, no stability, no consistency, than to give them the parameters of safety and the opportunity to learn a skill that can be utilized throughout their lives.

As adults, when we are upset, we can choose to go for a walk, to be outdoors, to do some physical work or find a relaxing activity. For children who have never learned self-modulation, parents MUST provide those opportunities. I once had a 16 year old boy who revealed to me that after 10 minutes of playing video games, he felt himself getting angry and irritated, not just with the game, but at his mother who was asking him to take out the trash, with his sister who happened to walk by, with his friends who were calling him on the phone. This was a child who needed an adult to “make” him take some time, away from all noise and chaos, to “go inside” and sit with himself. He needed a strong adult, willing to give him the opportunity to calm himself, by himself, so he could learn that he has the ability, the power, and the means to take care of himself emotionally.

So we, as good parents, must make the opportunity available for children to also learn to quiet one’s self, if he/she is going to be expected to make good choices. Just as we would help our child learn to tie his shoes, we must also teach him to sit, to go within, to calm and relax, so that as he grows, he has the tools to modulate himself.


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  • Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
    Licensed Professional Counselor
    Advanced Clinical HypnoTherapist

  • Deb England began working part-time for Wholeness Healing Center in September 2004 and began full-time in May 2005. Deb practices primarily in the Broken Bow office and one day a week in the Grand Island office. Previously she had completed her practicum and internship at Morning Star Alliance, working in the Broken Bow and Grand Island offices.


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