Back To School: Help your child defeat anxiety and go back strong!

Boy going to SchoolHealthy Expression:

Start by helping your child express their worries, fears, problems and more in the comfort of their own home. Give them your undivided attention and find a private space away from siblings if needed. Help them find the correct labels for their feelings, ideally in their own words. Many children enjoy using creative methods of expression (e.g. drawing pictures, writing in journals, creating social stories) while some are able to spell it out while relaxing at bath time or bedtime.

Validate & Empathize

Showing your child that you respect, accept and understand their emotions serves as a big boost to their self-confidence! Sometimes this is enough to give your child the relief they are seeking. All feelings should be accepted (but not necessarily all behaviors that are often associated with negative feelings). Rather than reassuring them that you will keep them safe, let them know that yes, these things are scary and you hear their true feelings. Let them feel your belief in them—how proud, positive and excited you are! Read more

How to Transition Your Special Need’s Child for the New School Year

parent teacher conferenceAs summer comes to a close, the transition back to school can be difficult for just about any child. After three months of fun with no real demands, children now have to attend to teachers for six hours and following a structured routine. Children with special needs and neurodevelopmental concerns are even more likely to face difficulty here, but there are numerous strategies parents and teachers can implement to ensure the transition goes smoothly as possible.

Preparing Your Child For The New School Year

Prior to school starting, it is important to sit down with your children and explain the changes that they will be experiencing soon. Prepare your child for the school year. Explain to him or her what the school routine will look like. Give your child a schedule of what the day will entail.

Getting Your Child Acquainted With The School And New Teacher

Next, bring your child to school to meet his or her new teacher, who should be able to give further preparation and reassurance for the coming year. If your child will be attending a new school, it is recommended that he or she take a tour beforehand in order to get acclimated to the layout and surroundings of the building. Read more

5 Ways to Get Your Picky Toddler to Eat 

toddler not eating dinner

Struggling to get your toddler to eat a variety of foods? Tired of watching them eat the same foods from the same food group over and over again? Have no fear! NSPT’s very own dietitian is here! 🙂

First and foremost, is your child a picky eater? Do they refuse to eat any of the healthy foods that you offer? Have you tried unsuccessfully to get them to eat different healthy foods? Is the number of foods they are willing to eat so limited it concerns you? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, your child may be a selective eater. However, in many cases, picky eating has nothing to do with food and has more to do with control.

5 Tips for a Picky Eater

1. Set a schedule. Children tend to respond well to routine, so try to schedule a set time for breakfast, lunch, dinner and at least two small snacks. The more consistent the timing, the more your child will get accustomed to eating every two to three hours.

2. Take advantage of food jags. Does your toddler only eat plain macaroni orr pieces of cheese? Have no fear – the good news is that they’re eating! It’s safe to assume that eventually they will get over these “food jags”, and now is the time to experiment with healthier alternatives without taking away their favorite food. For example, try pasta with added fiber or cheese made with two percent milk for healthier alternatives.

3. Don’t give up. When it comes to getting your picky eater to try new foods, be patient. Studies show that it can take up to 15 to 20 consistent tries in a period of one to two months for a child to even consider trying a new food. If your child doesn’t want to eat chicken on Monday, try again on Friday or the following week.

4. Participation is key. Try to get your child involved with grocery shopping and meal preparation. Let them pick out fruits and vegetables at the local farmers’ market and get them involved in the kitchen. The more you get them involved with what they can eat, the more likely they’ll be to try it.

5. Remember the rule of thumb: your child will decide what he or she will eat, but you as a parent decide what foods and how often. Especially during the ages of two to five, children try to gain their independence with their eating behavior. The less you try to force them to eat, the more likely your child will be able to control their own food intake.

What is your secret to get your picky eater to eat? What has worked for you? Do share!

Dealing with Tantrums in Public: Behavior Tips to Ease Your Stress

You are not alone! At some point, almost every parent must deal with their child having a major meltdown in a public place. This is a typical developmental stage – every child goes through the “tantrum phase” – and as a parent, you can influence these behaviors in the way you respond. The following are some proactive and reactive strategies and tantrum tips to help you get through this frustrating yet typical part of growing up:
Child in Time Out for Throwing a Tantrum

Proactive Strategies (how to prevent the behavior from occurring):

Listen to the behavior! Behavior is a form of communication, so you must “listen” to it. Pay attention to why your child is having a tantrum. Most likely, it is because your child is trying to get something (e.g. your attention, a toy) or they are trying to get out of something (e.g. trying on clothes, leaving a store). Whatever you do, try not to give in to the behavior. If they are throwing a tantrum to get a toy, DO NOT give the toy or negotiate for another one. Similarly, if they are throwing a tantrum because they don’t want to try on clothes, DO NOT let them out of it. You can, however, lower the expectations. For example, have them try on one shirt before leaving the store. After you are consistent with listening and responding to the behavior appropriately, the tantrums will decrease on their own over time. Read more

Child Development: Is My Child Normal?

Mom and Baby The number one reason that parents contact myself and the various therapists at North Shore Pediatric Therapy is to find out whether or not their children are developing and progressing at a normal rate. When should my child crawl? When should she start speaking? At what age should he be walking? These are all questions that we find ourselves answering on a daily basis. Parents often are not privy to this information. If only children would come with an instruction manual. Each child develops at a different rate, which is found to be dependent upon several factors including environmental influence (exposure to a variety of experiences) to genetic predisposition. That being said, there are stages of development that every child will reach in a hierarchical order. The main areas of development include a child’s motor ability and his or her language functioning. Language functioning can then be broken down into two main areas: receptive language, which is the child’s ability to listen to and follow auditory demands, and expressive language, which is the ability to provide comprehensive responses. Below is a chart for the major stages of motor and language development along with typical ages in which the child should reach the stage. Read more

Promoting Speech and Language Development During Summertime Fun

Making the most of Summer vacation    

ScrapbookPlay-dates, pool parties and trips to the beach – it’s summer vacation! Sure, we delight in seeing our kids enjoy the leisurely bliss of summer break, but will all the fun come at the expense of our children learning? How can we help our kids make developmental progress and stay on target for school in the fall?  In spite of all the relaxation and play, summertime has potential to be an incredibly enriching opportunity. After all, who ever said that learning can’t be entertaining? In fact, fun experiences are often the very best occasions for your child to learn.

Here are a few tips to keep your child learning throughout the summer:

Plan family outings!  Talk about where you will go, and what you will see there. Whether you visit a museum, the zoo, or a scenic park, a family outing will provide a multisensory experience to enrich your child’s development. Describe what you see during the outing, and introduce your child to new vocabulary words in the process. Read more

4 Ways to “Trick” Your Child to Eat Healthy Foods

 Child wont eat healthyTrying to get your kids to eat healthy could be one of the biggest challenges you’ll ever face. Their love for chicken nuggets, French fries, macaroni and cheese and pizza is likely so intense that they’re practically inseparable! But don’t fret – there are ways to try to “trick” your child to eat those healthy foods you’ve been trying to introduce since they were babies. 

1. Puree Away.

 That’s right – it’s time to bust out that food processor that’s been hiding in your cupboards. One of the best ways to try to get your child to eat fruits and vegetables is by pureeing them! Try throwing in cooked cauliflower and a little olive oil in a food processor, then mix it in a bowl of mashed potatoes.

2. Send to blender!

A great way to incorporate fruits into your child’s diet is by sending them to the blender! Try blending in half of a frozen banana in their chocolate shake, or throw a handful of baby spinach into their fruit smoothie.

3. Oven-baked fries:

Is your child a huge fan of French fries? Instead of stopping by the nearest fast food restaurant for an order, try baking your own! Slice a potato into wedges, drizzle a little olive oil on top, add salt and pepper, and bake in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. It satisfies your kids’ craving without all of the excess fat, and it’s a great way to get them involved in the kitchen!

4. Fake it ‘til they make it.

If you don’t eat as many fruits and vegetables as you should, increasing your intake will likely increase your child’s chances of eating and enjoying them, too. So go ahead – pick up that bunch of kale from the grocery store and make a batch of kale chips. You just might fall in love with it!

 What are your secrets in trying to get your child to eat healthy? Tried any of the above with success? Please share! 

Surviving A Family Vacation: Best Practice Strategies

As if finding airfare, booking hotel rooms, finding a rent-a-car, and scheduling sight seeing weren’t enough, you’ve got your kids to travel with!! Going on a relaxing vacation should be, well, RELAXING!!There are several tools that you can implement before you go on vacation that will ensure not only a relaxing vacation but also a PEACEFUL one!!!

 Surving Family Vacation

1. CONDUCT A FAMILY MEETING (1 Week Prior)

Topics to Discuss:
-Where you are going
-When you are going
-How long you will be gone for
-The fun activities you have planned (show pictures if possible)
-The rules and expectations, as a WHOLE GROUP and write them down as a reminder (Encourage the children to participate in rules and expectations if they are old enough, but do not allow for any child to suggest them for other children)  Review this list with them again on the day before you leave and during the trip as needed. Remind the children that they participated in the making of the rules and expectations; this encourages them to be more cooperative. Read more

How To Pack “Smart” For Your Child On Vacation

Summertime travel can be a fun and exciting experience for you and your family. Follow these tips to make the most of your vacation by keeping your children occupied and happy:

Packnig for your child on vacation

  • Before you go, prepare your child for what they can expect by making a simple schedule of events throughout the trip. Include layovers in airports, time in the car, and things you will do once you arrive. Tell your child what to expect during each event.
  • To keep your kids content during the trip, pack each of them a light-weight bag with toys, games, and books.
  • In addition to packing their favorite toys and books, surprise them with a few new and inexpensive things to do.
  • Pack a stuffed animal, blanket or other comfort item to help them adjust to sleeping in a new environment and to put them at ease along the way.
  • Don’t forget snacks and drinks! Travel can be unpredictable, so it’s best to be prepared with easy treats just in case.

Keep toys small and compact so you can take them anywhere.  A bag of small toys can go a long way when you are sitting in a restaurant waiting for your food, and stickers are great on a plane (no mess)!  Keep these items with you throughout your trip and you will be guaranteed less STRESS!

Rewarding Your Child: How to Encourage Children To Behave!

Loving our kids is easy, right?  Well, we love it when we can spend quality time with them. However, there are those times when it seems that all we do with our kids is fight and scream, leaving us with nothing but a migraine headache and an upset child!

This is an ongoing negative cycle – you react to your child’s bad behavior, then they react to your reaction. As if that isn’t bad enough, you have to then go home and explain to your spouse why you can’t cook dinner, play with the other children or clean up the house. Having the knowledge, tools, and appropriate strategies for you and your child make better decisions will help break this negative cycle and encourage positive behavior.

The first thing I always asks my clients is, what are you currently doing to discipline your child? Most parents will respond by saying that they often get mad, yell, or send their child to time-out. While all of these suggestions are good, there isn’t a “cookie-cutter” method for disciplining children. We must remember that every behavior is a form of communication in itself and occurs for a specific reason.

Most parents want a happier, more peaceful relationship with their children, which is why they often give in to their negative behaviors. Alternatively, you can use the following positive reinforcement strategies to foster a peaceful relationship without enabling bad behavior.

The three most common forms of positive reinforcement strategies that I use are: Read more