Understanding classroom behaviors
Most of you have been faced with a child in your class who simply cannot sit still. He is always squirming in his chair and seems to have little bodily contact with the chair! When he does occasionally sit on the seat, he almost immediately puts one leg under him. He then keeps shifting the leg as it begins to ‘fall asleep’ from the pressure of his body. He may also keep playing with his clothes, his pencils, his books. All his teachers complain of his constant movement. Yet, if he stretches out on the floor to listen to a story or watch a programme on television, he keeps still and quiet.
What’s the problem here? Is he naughty? Is he bored? Is he ADHD?
What such movement can probably mean is that he can’t sit still because he is hypersensitive to touch, particularly in the area along his sciatic nerve (buttocks and legs). The fabric of his clothing rubbing against the chair and into the back of his leg (especially behind his knee) is ticklish. He may not even realise this since he has been trying to block that sensation and pay attention to the lesson for most of his life. He might be able to sit a little quieter on some days – maybe he is wearing softer clothes (an older, well-washed school uniform) or perhaps he is more relaxed today and feeling less stressed.
There are many reasons for a child behaving in restless ways. This is just a thumbnail sketch to help your awareness that too often adults jump to conclusions about the underlying causes of the way children try to cope in the classroom.