Creating a Bedtime Routine for Your Child

Do you find yourself struggling with your child when bedtime approaches? If so, here are some tips for establishing a reliable bedtime routine:

 

Family BedtimeEssentially, a child’s evening schedule needs to be simple yet flexible so that in the even of a disruption, the basic routine can still be preserved. You could try something like this:

 

6:00 pm Dinner: Rather than indulging in caffeinated and sugary foods, encourage meals high in complex carbohydrates with a small amount of protein. Fruits such as apples, pears and bananas are always a favorite, while whole grain crackers, bread, and dairy- or soy-based products also help to promote great sleep. Read more

Encouraging Speech & Language Development in Infants and Toddlers

Mom reading to babyInfants immediately begin to learn from the environment around them after entering into our unfamiliar yet exciting world. The experiences they are exposed to and the people they encounter will ultimately help to shape them into the intelligent and independent children their parents hoped for. The importance of facilitating speech and language in young children is significant, and research has shown that early exposure is crucial to their development. Many parents therefore wonder what they can do to help elicit speech and language development at home, in order to help give their children every advantage possible.

Below are some simple suggestions and activities that can be easily incorporated throughout the day to help focus on these areas:

Reinforce communication by looking directly at your child when speaking and imitating them when they communicate, even if it is jargon!

• Teach animal and environmental sounds using motivating toys such as farm sets and cars.

• Talk about an activity while you are engaged in it (e.g. When cooking, talk about all of the steps and describe the ingredients).

• Point out everyday objects in the environment by expanding upon your language (e.g. When walking through the neighborhood, explain what is around you: “I see a tree. The tree is tall. The tree has green leaves.”, etc).

• Be a role model by using simple but grammatically correct speech for your child’s age.

• Associate sounds with objects around the house, as this is a precursor to phonics (e.g. The vacuum says “vvvvvv”.)

• Expand on your child’s speech and reiterate what they’ve said by modeling more complex sentences (e.g. If your child says “red car”, respond to them by saying, “You’re right, there is a big red car outside”.)

• Read books to increase comprehension and point to objects when named.

• Use preferred items to help promote language (e.g. If they have a favorite stuffed animal, use it to demonstrate brushing, dressing, bedtime routine etc).

• Use picture schedules and songs to facilitate smooth transitions (e.g. The “clean-up” song).

• Find time to communicate with your child without using technology.

• Provide choices throughout the day and reinforce successful communication.

• Have your older child expand on their utterances by having them tell you about their day (e.g. “Tell me what you did at camp today.” or “Tell me 3 things you saw at the park.”).

• Stay away from using only yes or no questions, as they do not always allow your child to formulate more descriptive sentences. Ask more specific questions when you can.

• Show your child that you are interested by listening attentively and engaging them during structured activities.

• Model appropriate behavior in social situations.

• Reinforce pretend play (e.g. cooking/kitchen sets, etc.).

• Participate in sensory-motor play (e.g. musical instruments).

• Supervise your child during play groups and encourage play-dates.

• Encourage sharing and turn taking during games and other structured activities.

• Allow your child to lead during motivating activities to give them a sense of independence.

• Expand social communication and story telling by participating in dramatic or symbolic play by “acting out” scenarios (e.g. feeding their dolls).

 

While the initial task may appear daunting and you may feel overwhelmed with trying to incorporate all of the activities into your daily routine, remember to start out slowly. Keep in mind that you may already be doing many of these activities without formally addressing them, so it may be simple to quickly add a few new behaviors to your routine. The key is to make these activities fun, so remember to expose your child to as much communicative interaction as possible throughout the day.

While parents know their children best, if something does not seem quite right, it may be advantageous to speak with a Speech-Language Pathologist about more specific activities that can further help your child. Just remember that every child is unique, and many variables may impact their own speech and language development. Follow typical developmental norms and milestones, and seek help if your child does not seem to be progressing at an appropriate rate.

Visual Calendars & Schedules: How They Benefit Your Child

Summertime brings about a more relaxed schedule that is filled with fun activities: camp, family vacations, trips to the water park. However, children with sensory processing difficulties or any anxiety tend to prefer a very predictable schedule and may feel uneasy during this time. When there is a change in routine or something new is thrown into the day, that element of predictability disappears, and the child can become anxious, upset and possibly act out as a result. He or she may not know what to expect and how to plan for new sensory experiences. After all, with each new activity comes a plethora of new sensory input such as sound, touch, movement, and sight. A visual calendar that identifies daily and weekly schedule changes can help children with sensory processing difficulties or children who have a hard time transitioning feel more comfortable with their summer routine.

Tips For Using A Visual Calendar Or Schedule With Your Child:

  • Use a calendar large enough to write down daily and weekly activities.
  • Review the calendar with your child daily so he knows what to expect for the day and for the weeks ahead. For example, “Today we will go to the beach. In 5 days, you will start camp.”
  • Cross off the days as they conclude and review what is on the schedule for the next day at bedtime, and again in the morning.
  • Be sure to include the first day of school on the calendar to indicate the end of summer.

For children with sensory processing concerns, thinking in the future can be very abstract and overwhelming. The visual calendar will be beneficial to make your child’s day to day and week to week schedule more concrete and help him or her be more organized.

Below is an example of a successful visual calendar:

Visual Calendar

Visual Calendar

Feel free to comment with how a visual calendar has helped your child!

Top 5 Pediatric Therapy Myths: Explored and Explained

Scared Girl

There are numerous misconceptions about pediatric therapy out there. I hear parents reporting to me all the time that they “heard from a friend,” or better yet, “saw on the internet” that developmental therapy does not work and that pediatric therapists “just keep kids in therapy” with no real improvement.

Below, I will address the 5 biggest myths out there regarding Pediatric Therapy:

Myth 1:   My child will “mature” and this will not be an issue.

I have heard this numerous times from parents about their children. Will the child “mature” and develop eventually? Sure, probably to some extent. My question back to them is: at what cost? What would be the consequences of not addressing the specific issues that the child demonstrates? How would these issues play out in school? Would the child be teased, bullied, or unable to progress to the best of his or her ability? There are obviously certain developmental stages that children reach at certain times, but some children develop at a slower rate than others . The goal of pediatric therapy is to enable these children to catch up with their peers and prevent later consequences. Additionally, research has demonstrated that the earlier the developmental issues are addressed, the better that child’s long term prognosis will be. Read more

Raising an Independent Child

Childhood IndependenceIt’s summer time, the kiddos are out of school, and Independence Day is right around the corner!  It is the perfect time to help your children become more self-sufficient and confident by encouraging them to become more independent in their daily routines.

Where Childhood Independence Begins

Typically, children begin to demonstrate their independence by the age of two.  They may want to try everything by themselves and even act annoyed if you try to step in to help them.  This is perfectly normal and I encourage you to embrace this developmental milestone!

Bedtime should be the first area to be targeted when teaching your child independence.  Establishing a consistent bed time routine is a must.  Children should be sleeping in their beds independently.  They may still need reminders to stay in their room, but there are plenty of ways to work on getting this accomplished.  You can try giving them a signal of when they can leave their room (e.g., when the light comes up or when the clock looks like this: 7:00).  You can also keep a bin of toys in their room that they are allowed to play with in the morning.  It is very important to be aware of your reaction when they do get out of bed.  Firmly state the expectations (e.g., “Johnny, you need to stay in bed until the clock reads 7:00”) and guide them back to their room.  Do not provide eye contact or attempt to rationalize with them.  You may need to bring them back to their room several times over many days.  Don’t give up!  I promise it will get easier!

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VIDEO GAME VIOLENCE: Will it affect my Child’s Behavior?

Research on Video Games and Aggressive Behavior

There has been a lot of debate about whether or not violence in video games can lead to an increase in maladaptive behaviors in children. As much as parents want to try to keep children and adolescents away from violent games, many children will find a way to play them. One research study revealed that approximately 70 % of American teenage boys between the ages of 13-17 have played the violent videogame Grand Theft Auto, in which the goal of the game is to steal cars and murder people. Another research study indicated that the less exposure that children have to violent games, the less aggressive behavior the children exhibit. Furthermore, a rather large research study concluded that aggressive video games lead to aggressive behaviors in children.

The question remains as to whether or not children who play violent video games are at increased risk to exhibit aggressive behavior; or is it that aggressive children tend to want to engage in aggressive activities? Regardless of the causality of preference for violent games and aggressive behavior, it is important to recognize that the children who play these violent games are at increased risk to be aggressive.  Read more

Mean Girls & Bullying Boys: How Parents Can Help

Bullies of Today

The world of social media is increasing at the speed of light—especially with Facebook, Twitter, iPhones and more! We can’t deny that the new and improved methods of social networking have changed the way we live as adults. We also can’t deny that our children will grow up in a different world than we did, with such huge expansions of social media changing the ways children express and relate to each other.

So many of the ways children and teens communicate today (typing away on the Internet and texting away on their cell phones) don’t involve adult supervision thus making it difficult to monitor for good behavior and treatment of others. Girls and boys can now post mean messages and threats to each other via web pages only their peers can see and never be held accountable. This indirect form of aggression is more likely in girls, who show bullying behaviors in very different ways than boys. Boys may be more likely to demonstrate overt physical aggression, while girls tend to use hurtful words and enforce social hierarchies. Read more

potty training boy

10 “Do’s and Don’ts” for Potty Training

Potty Training your child can be a daunting task.  Here are a few tips to help you accomplish the job successfully!

Potty Training

Potty Training Do’s:

  1. Watch for signs that your children are ready.  They may show interest in the potty, ask to be changed after they eliminate, or can tell you when they are eliminating.
  2. Write down when your child normally pees and poops during the day for a week.  This will help you determine an appropriate schedule.
  3. Find success with peeing on the potty first, so increase the fluids!  Pooping usually is secondary.
  4. No more diapers, except for night time!  The only way the child can begin to pair the behavior with the sensation of eliminating is to immediately feel it!
  5. Get the school and day care on board.  Read more

Anxiety Disorders in Children

Anxiety Disorders in Children and When You Should Worry.

Anxiety disorders are considered to be one of the most common type of psychiatric disorders affecting children and adolescents.  However, studies have indicated that fewer than twenty percent of children with anxiety disorders actually receive treatment.  According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition, Text Revised (DSM-IV,TR), there are nine specific anxiety disorders that a child can have.  Although they are all distinct disorders, the commonality that they all  share is intense anxiety.  The focus of the anxiety is what distinguishes the disorders.

Possible long-term consequences of leaving anxiety disorders untreated:

Children and adolescents who do not receive the necessary treatment are at risk for repeated school absences, impaired relations with peers, poor self-esteem, alcohol or drug use, problems adjusting to work situations, and continued anxiety disorders in adulthood.  Although there are quite a few long-term consequences of not treating anxiety, the majority of children with significant anxiety do eventually demonstrate improvement on their own without treatment. One large study (Perrin, Hersen, and Kazdin, 1995) indicated that 82% of children recovered from the initial anxiety after four years, 68% recovered after the first year, and 8% evidenced relapse of anxiety after remission.  Although a good majority of children do eventually recover on their own with no intervention, a portion of children continue to demonstrate significant debilitating anxiety.  Additionally, early intervention for anxiety symptoms would make the child’s life easier and be less at risk for later anxiety relapses.   Read more

Why Are Transitions So Difficult For My Child?

What is it about change that is so problematic for some children (and for us)?

The stories are familiar:

  • The child who can’t make it down the hallway in school without causing a disruption.
  • The child who has seemingly had a good day at school and then whines incessantly before dinnertime.
  • The bedtime routine that takes forever and is not enjoyable for anyone.
  • The child who does fine in the classroom for major subjects but falls apart in the lunchroom or during specials.
  • The child who acts out whenever there is a substitute teacher or a new babysitter.
  • Those nightmarish car rides that we have all experienced.

 

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