Tips For Getting Your Toddler Out The Door

toddler by the doorYour child may have difficulties getting out the door for a number of reasons. For example, transitions from one activity to the next may be a problem. Other children may engage in problematic behaviors to avoid a non-preferred activity, acquire access to a preferred activity, or escape transitioning from a preferred activity to a non-preferred activity.

The following are some strategies that may help in getting your toddler out the door. However, identifying the reasons for difficulty is important in making a treatment decision and should not be overlooked.

STRATEGIES TO USE FOR GETTING YOUR CHILD OUT THE DOOR:

• Provide advance notice of an upcoming change in tasks (i.e. a two-minute warning). This could help in reducing “anxiety” related to transitions.

• Use visual schedules to communicate transitions between activities to decrease problem behavior.

• Deliver positive reinforcement if your toddler follows the schedule or completes the transition without any problem behaviors. Some examples of reinforcers (i.e. what increases the occurrence of a behavior) may be praise, food items, breaks and activities. Every child is different, so their reinforcers may be different as well. Figure out what your child prefers and use this to your advantage in increasing compliance with their and transitions.

• Use graduated prompting to help your toddler transition:
-Use a hand-over-hand prompting procedure to physically guide compliance to the transition, regardless of the problem behavior. Read more

Helping Kids Handle Aggression

Aggressive behavior needs serious attention soon after it occurs. It may be predictive of more serious disruptivemad boy behavior disorders in later phases of development. Mental health professionals consider disruptive behavior a disorder when the behaviors are frequent and intense, reaching a level that negatively impacts a child’s social, academic, or interpersonal worlds.

Since disruptive behavior seen in the preschool and grade school years can predict serious health and behavioral problems in adolescence, it is highly recommended that you intervene as early as possible.

How Parents Can Help With Childhood Aggression:

  • Participate in parent training with a qualified behavior therapist to learn new techniques for behavior management
  • Read behavior management manuals suggested by professionals, such as Families (Patterson, 1971)  and Living with Children (Patterson & Gullion, 1968)
  • Pay attention to and reward appropriate behavior. Ignore minor offenses.
  • Model and role play alternatives to aggression with your child. Create a story line with characters they prefer, and set up hypothetical situations. Prompt them to practice healthy emotional expression and solve the problems you are presenting in positive ways.  Read more

Arts and Craft Ideas To Improve Fine and Gross Motor Skills

toddler coloringToddlers learn about their world by using their senses, manipulating objects and experimenting.  Toddlerhood is marked by an explosion of development in all areas, including fine motor skills, or “hand skills”.  One fun way to promote fine motor skills every day (and on Valentine’s Day in particular) is through crafts!

Here is a short, craft-friendly guide to fine motor milestones:

  • Scribbling and making horizontal or vertical lines – 2 years old
  • Squeezing out glue – 2 years old (though squeezing out an appropriate amount of glue is a skill that will not develop until much later!)
  • Snipping with scissors – 2 ½ years old (with constant supervision!)
  • Drawing circles and a rough cross – 3 years old
  • Stringing large beads – 3 years old
  • Cutting on a line – 3 ½ years old

Unless you are hoping for updated living room walls, your toddler will need constant supervision, direction and demonstration throughout all of these projects.  When these tasks are completed, everyone’s heart will be warmed when you see your child beaming with pride at what has been created.

A few fun and simple craft projects to try with your toddler this Valentine’s Day:

  • Make a valentine for family members, classmates, or neighbors.  Young toddlers will be satisfied with simple tools such as finger paints or crayons.  Older children may want to add glitter, stamps, or stickers. Read more

Building Social Skills Through Play Dates

two kids playingYou worked diligently planning for today’s play date: abook to get things started, a seasonal craft to tie in education, and a creative snack to conclude the day.  Last you checked, breaking up a scuffle and mopping juice box puddles off the floor weren’t on the list.  So what went wrong?

Planning a play date can be overwhelming at times.  We want things to go as planned and, above all, we want our child to make friends.  Building friendships involves an array of skills, including initiating interactions, taking turns, being flexible, asking questions, and negotiating.  For children with language difficulties, these skills can often be challenging.  So how can we help them succeed?

Strategies to help your child navigate peer interactions during a play date:

  • Talk to your child ahead of time about their upcoming play date.  Discuss who is coming over and what is going to happen.  Include concepts such as taking turns, sharing, or being a good friend.  If possible, show your child a picture of their peer as you discuss. Read more

When To Screen Children For Autism And Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders

Popular media is now teeming with stories about the dramatic rise in autism. Several celebrities have spoken publicly and advocated for increased research on assessment methods and treatment options. Parents are now more keenly aware of even minor deviations in their child’s developmental milestones, and they worry that these delays could be the first signs of a debilitating life-long disorder.

With all of the increased attention being paid to autism, many families wonder how to make sense of the myriad checklists and screening tools available online. In addition, parents struggle to decide if their child’s repetitive behaviors and singular fascination with toys and movies are age-appropriate.

The worry is not just paranoia – researchers have repeatedly concluded that early intervention leads to optimal outcomes for children with autism and other pervasive developmental disorders. To determine whether or not to call your pediatrician, you can look at the key variables that clinicians use in assessing autism..Below are some factors we look for when evaluating a young child (2 to 4 years old).

6 Factors To Look For When Exploring A Possible Autism Diagnosis

1. Shared Interest

Children will begin to develop this skill at around 10 to 12 months of age. Essentially, shared interest is the child’s strong desire to share emotional feelings with others. After this age, when children are confronted with novel and exciting stimuli (bubbles, balloons, etc.) they frequently look from the stimuli to their parents and back. While seeming to be a simple action, this reflects a child’s social connection to their parent and desire to engage them. The absence of this reaction is reason for concern. Read more

The Key(s) to Successful Time-Outs

Parents and teachers are always on the lookout for new techniques to decrease inappropriate behaviors. If used correctly, the age-old time-out procedure can be the most effective tool in teaching your kiddo to behave. The following strategies will help you clean up the time-out process and make it effective for your children.

Time-Out Strategies

  • Attempt to identify what your child is trying to communicate through their behavior and provide interventions based on the results. Typically, most behaviors are exhibited in order to gain or avoid something in the environment. For example, a child may bite other children because he/she does not have the language to ask for a toy.
  • Follow the “Three Cs” law – the household rules should be clear, concise, and consistent. Pick one or two rules to focus on and make sure they are visibly posted using pictures or words. Children should know exactly what they did in order to receive a time–out, and parents are responsible for making sure that they implement a time-out every time the behavior occurs. Read more

All You Need To Know About Learning Disabilities

How common are Learning Disabilities?

LD Boy

Learning concerns are one the most common neurological issues that children and adolescents present with. It has been estimated that approximately 20% of the general population in the prevalence rates indicate that 6% of the general population meet the necessary diagnostic criteria for a diagnosis of a specific learning disorder.

How are Learning Disabilities Defined?

There is great debate regarding how to accurate define, classify, and diagnosis learning disorders. Traditionally, it was assumed that a specific learning disorder exists when there is a significant discrepancy between a child’s ability (IQ, cognitive functioning) and achievement (performance on standardized reading, mathematics, and written expression tasks). However, there have been recent changes within the USA regarding how to classify and diagnosis learning disabilities. Currently, categorization of a child’s learning disability is based upon a multi-tiered process involving early identification and intervention. This multi-tiered process based approach is labeled Response to Intervention (RTI).

What are the Pros and Cons of RTI?

Researchers who are in favor of the RTI Model of learning disabilities argue that a combination of interviewing and behavioral observations are sufficient for identification of problems as well as to determine appropriate interventions. The RTI Model is most beneficial for children who have emotional or behavioral disorders that result secondary from a defined environmental factor, such as: inappropriate or inconsistent reinforcement or punishment. Read more

Sleep Disorders in Children

sleeping childMost families think of nighttime as a period of respite from daily activities of their children, a chance to reconnect with their spouse, relax and unwind. However, for families who are dealing with sleep issues in their children, nighttime is often one of the most difficult and challenging times of their day. Children who have difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep or disorders that disrupt the quality/quantity of their sleep end up with families who are also tired and miserable. Thus, promoting healthy sleep habits and effectively treating sleep disorders in children is often one of the best ways to improve a family’s overall quality of life.

Effects of Sleep Disorders in Children

With the advent of physiological procedures for evaluating sleep, we have gained a better understanding of the role of sleep in children. While children suffer from several of the same issues that effect adults (sleep apnea, restless legs, circadian rhythm disorders and insomnia), the causes and treatments of these conditions in children are often quite different. In addition, the daytime effects of disordered sleep in children are quite different from adults. For example, sleep disordered breathing such as apnea and chronic snoring lead to daytime fatigue in adults at rates of over 80%. However, in children, these same conditions lead to behavioral problems (45%), ADHD-like symptoms (50%) and mild learning difficulties (35%). In fact, reported daytime fatigue occurs only about 11% of the time in children.

Common Sleep Disorders in Children

There are several common sleep problems in children. These include onset and maintenance insomnia, sleep disordered breathing, movement disorders, bedwetting, and night terrors. While this list is by no means exhaustive, it does highlight the common problems parents report to pediatricians and health care professionals.

Childhood Insomnia

Insomnia is generally characterized as primary (in isolation) or secondary (due to another medical or mental health condition) and as onset (inability to get to sleep) or maintenance (inability to stay asleep). My general belief is that children can fall asleep anywhere and anytime the need strikes. So, when families are reporting insomnia, my first concern is to rule out any systemic problems in the family that may interfere with bedtime routines and sleep habits Read more

Snow Day Do’s and Don’ts

When school is cancelled and you can’t make it to work, you have to come up with creative things to do with your children so you don’t all get cabin fever! Here are some ideas:

Children in the snow

Snow-Day Do’s:

  • Do start the day off writing a schedule of “Fun” things to do with your child.
  • Do give each child a chance to pick something they want to add to the schedule so they each feel like they have a say in the day and are excited for their choice!
  • Do play a board game.
  • Do go outside and make snowmen and snow angels.
  • Do bake some cookies that the kids can decorate!
  • Do an arts and crafts project using things around the house.
  • Do Have a dance party or play Dance Dance Revolution on you Wii.
  • Do For children ages 3-10, make a book: staple paper together and have your child dictate the story to you (or write it themselves depending on age). Then let them illustrate it!
  • Do make a picnic instead of your typical lunch. Set up a blanket on your playroom floor and pretend you are outside!
  • Do Use this day to have quality time with your children!

Snow-Day Don’ts:

  • Don’t plop yourself or your kids in front of the t.v. all day.
  • Don’t allow any nagging! Only smiles and fun suggestions!
  • Don’t try to work on your day off.
  • Don’t waste the day eating junk food and supplying it to your children.

…and one more  DO – Do leave a comment with your best ideas for when you are snowed in!

11 Ways to Increase Your Child’s Speech Fluency

Parents play key roles in modeling healthy ways to communicate in everyday situations. By knowing what to do inBoy on phone your own talking during certain scenarios, you can transition highly disfluent times to be more successful conversations. In doing this, you will be teaching and reinforcing healthy conversational skills during daily activities. The following conversational suggestions are not meant to replace therapy, but to compliment your child’s individual treatment plan.

11 Tips to Increase Speech in Your Child

  1. Use eye contact. Eye contact is a great conversational tool for many reasons. When you are modeling eye contact while your child is talking, you are communicating that you are listening. By using eye contact when you are talking, you are showing your child that watching someone’s face when they talk is important. In a peer situation, your child will be better able to hold his conversational turn with sustained eye contact (especially if he “gets stuck”) because other children are less likely to jump in and finish for him. The best way to elicit eye contact from your child is to model it yourself and to reinforce it when you notice it (“Great job watching my face while you told me about that!”) as compared to asking the child to “look at you.” Read more