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Sitting Tolerance- What is it?

Updated: May 1, 2022

What is Sitting Tolerance?

Sitting tolerance is one of the building blocks of language development. It essentially involves learning to play, attention, and manipulate objects as well as learning new skills and applying them in daily life. It can be simply defined as the child's ability to sit through an activity- giving attention, engaging, and learning.

When does Sitting Tolerance Develop?

Children as early as 1 year of age demonstrate a sitting tolerance of approximately 30 seconds to a minute. As the child grows, his/her sitting tolerance also increases and children are able to engage in an activity for a longer time. Sitting tolerance is most evident in the preschool years of the child as it is a prerequisite to some of the important school skills like taking/following instructions, completing an activity, retaining information, etc.

Why is it so important?

Like joint attention, sitting tolerance also is an important precursor to language development. In order for a child to develop language, he/she needs to pay attention, engage in activities, follow instructions, and so on. Lack of sitting tolerance can have a negative effect on the child's performance at school as well as on his social relationships with friends and family. As SLPs, our first priority is to assess the child's sitting tolerance and work on it to prepare the child to move on to the next stage of expressing verbally.

What conditions are associated with a lack of Sitting tolerance?

One of the most common conditions associated with lack of sitting tolerance is ASD- Autism Spectrum disorder. Children with ASD have been shown to have poor muscle control due to which they are unable to maintain a posture. These children also struggle in social situations and therefore they struggle with sitting during activities. Moreover, sensory stimuli such as lights, sounds, or particular visuals cause sensory dis-regulations and make it hard for them to sit through an activity.

When should I be concerned?

Some of the red flags to look out for are:

  • If your child is not able to sit through an activity he/she enjoys

  • If your child has a hard time following instructions at school

  • If your child does not engage with his/her peers

  • If your child lacks joint-attention

What can I do to improve my child's sitting tolerance?

  • Understand your child's sensory difficulties and identify the triggers.

  • Incorporate activities that your child enjoys.

  • Involve sensory activities eg: playing with sand or water.

  • Art and craft, puzzles are good ways to encourage children to sit.

  • Use of fidget toys during an activity.

  • Make your child sit on the therapy ball during activities.

  • Incorporating core muscle strengthening exercises as a part of your daily routine.

Want to know more?

Download our Sitting Tolerance bundle with activities curated by our Experienced SLPs.


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