Strategies to Help Your Teen Make Good Decisions

The teenage years are marked with new experiences.  Teenagers want to be independent and are drawn to exciting, new opportunities.  During this time period, chemical changes in the brain also motivate teens to seek out risky behavior.  What can parents do, then, to help their teens learn to exercise good judgment despite the internal and external motivators they have to make poor choices?

Strategies parents can use to help teenagers make good decisions:

  1. Help your teen to take positive risks.  For example, encourage your teen to try out for a new sport, visit a new place, or make new friends.  This will help instill confidence and self control in your teen.  It will also satisfy your teen’s quest for new or exciting things. Read more

How to Handle Fireworks and Your Child’s Sensitivity to Noise

By the time the 4th of July rolls around, summer is in full swing!  Kids spend their days at camp; families spend more timefireworks relaxing, and everyone enjoys spending time outside in the sun. The 4th of July is a fun time to gather friends and family and celebrate with food, games and (of course) fireworks!

While these July 4th traditions bring excitement for many children, there are kids with hypersensitivities who do not look forward to the noisy day. Below are 5 strategies that can help your sensitive child enjoy the day as well.

5 Ways to Help Your Child with Hypersensitivities Enjoy the 4th of July:

  1. Prepare your child for the day by providing them with explanations of where you are going, what you will do there, and what they will hear. This will help them to understand what to expect from the day without being fearful. You can also prepare them for the noise by having a family music night where everyone bangs on pots and pans around the house!
  2. Watch a video, either online or on television, that has fireworks in it.
  3. Bring cotton balls or ear plugs to the fireworks event to help decrease the intensity of the sound.
  4. Ask friends who lives near a local fireworks show if you can watch from their home. Being indoors will also decrease the intensity of the sound.
  5. If your child still won’t have an enjoyable time during fireworks with the above strategies, consider having a babysitter stay home with your kids. She can plan fun holiday games and crafts to celebrate at home.

Have a safe and wonderful 4th of July!

For more ideas on helping your child, click here to read about activities to address your child’s tactile hypersensitivities.
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Educational Graduate Gifts At Each Age

It’s that time of year!  Children are graduating and proud parents are celebrating this milestone.  Read on for special gift suggestions for graduates of all ages that also have educational value.

Educational and Fun Gifts for Your Grad By Age:

Kindergarten Graduation Gifts:

  • Special Books: Classic, hard-cover books will be fun to read in the moment and treasured as a keepsake for years to come.  Consider titles like Ferdinand, The Tale of Peter Rabbit or Paddington Bear.
  • Magna-Tiles: Consider investing in a set of Magna-Tiles.  These magnetic building tiles will occupy the imagination of your soon-to-be first grader for hours on a rainy day over the summer.
  • Lego Building Blocks: Legos have been around for a long time and for good reason.  Lego building sets engage young builders as they create predetermined buildings or design their own.

Junior High Graduation Gifts:

  • Special Books: Inspire your soon to be high school kid with a copy of Oh the Place You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss.
  • Educational Video Games:  You can’t tear your teen away from the Xbox360 or Wii, but at least you can inspire them with a game that will teach something.  Consider Civilization Revolution (Xbox360) or The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii).

High School Graduation Gifts:

Graduation is a wonderful accomplishment.  Celebrate your children with gifts that will continue to enrich them as they move to the next phase of  life!

5 Tips to Help With Social Concerns Associated With ADHD

Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often present concerns interacting with peers and maintaining ADHD boysappropriate social relationships.  These children often present appropriate social skill sets; however, issues with inattention and impulsiveness directly impact their ability to execute these skills on a regular basis.

Below are five strategies to help improve the social interaction of these children:

  1. Keep social situations limited to one or two peers as opposed to having them interact with a large group in which the child will likely become easily distracted.
  2. Try to modify the environment in which the social interaction is going to happen.  Situations in which there are many distractions will likely set the child up for an uncomfortable situation.
  3. If the parent or teacher is in close proximity of the interaction, attempt to actively intervene in situations in which the child is not engaging with peers appropriately.
  4. Before the social interaction occurs, remind the child  about the importance of taking turns, eye contact, personal space, etc.
  5. If the interaction occurred at a friend’s house, follow-up with the other parent afterwards and discuss the interaction.  Use the feedback as a means of providing insight to the child about what was positive about the interaction and what he or she will need to improve upon in the future.

Many children with attention and impulsive behaviors exhibit social interaction issues.  They have a difficult time regulating personal space and picking up nuances in social interactions.  Above are some basic tips that parents and teachers should implement in order to help improve their child’s social relations.  If the child continues to struggle with social interaction, it is recommended that he or she work with a behaviorally-trained social worker as an individual or in a group format to help develop the child’s social skills.

For more on ADHD, click here

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How to Treat Twins as Individuals

In general, parents that have twins are very concerned with treating their children equally, but they often struggle in allowing their twinschildren to find their own identity. Parents usually dress twins in matching outfits, sign them up for the same activities, purchase two of the same toy and even arrange play dates to be together.

In order to make sure that you treat your twins as individuals, try keeping the following tips in mind:

  • Clothes: Clothing reveals a lot about an individual and it is a way that people tend to show their creativity and identity. Do not feel obligated to dress your twins in identical outfits. Choosing clothes that differ in color will allow your child’s personality to show itself. When your children get older have them help pick out their outfits and dress in the clothes that they truly like.
  • Activities: If one twin is enrolled in dance, it does not imply that the other child should do the same. Make sure that the activities your twins are enrolled in reveal their personal skills and interests. Although this may require you to drive around more often, your children will be Read more

Sit Back, Relax, and Enjoy Your Very Own Body Pillow

Throughout the clinic, the options are endless as far as games to play, equipment to climb, and toys to use. With all the available choices, onebody pillow item continues to be a favorite of children of all ages and interests: the body pillow. For all of you craft-loving parents, as well as those (like me) who are “creatively challenged,” here are DIY instructions for creating your very own, personalized body pillow.

Step 1: Cut a large foam block into tons of little pieces varying in shape and size. Most pieces should be about four inches in diameter. Set these pieces aside for later.

Step 2: Next, choose a simple twin-sized duvet cover. Fill this cover with the foam pieces as full as you see fit. This will create the body of the pillow. Some kids prefer the pillows to be overflowing with foam pieces so that they can sit high up on top, while others prefer to sink into the crevices of a pillow that is less full. Once the foam is in the cover, secure it tightly by using the buttons and by tying the ends into knots.

Step 3: Once the body of the pillow is filled to your child’s preference and tightly secured, slip it into a second duvet cover. This is where you can add a personal touch by choosing a fabric that is your child’s favorite color, has her favorite movie character, or matches the interior decoration scheme in her room. Once again, make sure this casing is secured tightly to prevent the foam from escaping. A second cover also gives you the opportunity to wash the outermost layer of your new pillow without emptying the foam.

Step 4: Kick back and relax on your very own personalized body pillow.

Here at NSPT, we use the encapsulating body pillows for an endless amount of activities. At home, you can use the new comfort havens in a quiet place where your child can go to be by herself, calm down after an argument, or read a book.  She may feel a sense of comfort and ownership if she has a safe place that is designated as her own. The pillow can also be used for various activities that can provide your child with deep proprioceptive input to help her self-regulate. In the clinic, for example, we frequently use the pillow to help us create “Kiddo Sandwiches.” In this activity, the children lay on a soft surface under the pillow while their therapist “squishes” their bodies with quick and rhythmic pushes on the pillow. Kids really get into this activity and frequently tell their therapist what ingredient should be squished into their body sandwich next (e.g., cheese, turkey, or mustard).

Whether you use the pillow as a place to lounge, a self-regulation tool, or just a cool piece of furniture, it is sure to become a family favorite in no time. This is a great craft to save for a rainy day and a great one to get the whole family involved.

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Physical Activities to Get your Child Moving | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a pediatric physical therapist will explain creative ways to help your child get up and get active!

In this video you will learn:

  • What indoor games are best for encouraging physical activity with your child
  • What outdoor activities increase muscular activity
  • What gaming system is best for enhancing your child’s activity

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now you’re host, here’s
Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host Robyn
Ackerman, and today I’m standing here with Leida Van Oss, a
pediatric physical therapist. Leida, can you tell us some
physical activities that we can use to get our children
moving?

Leida: Sure. When you want to get your kid moving and active, it’s
really important that it’s something that’s fun to them. So
if they’re really interested in doing board games, there
are a couple different board games you can do, such as
Hullabaloo or I Can Do That by Cat in the Hat or Twister.
If they like to go outdoors, then do something like a
sport, like swimming or soccer, or if there’s snow on the
ground, you can build forts or go sledding. But it’s really
important to pick something that they’re going to be
interested in so that they get really active.

If they really like video games, there are a lot of good active video
games you can do, especially with the new system, the
Kinect. Things like Just Dance or Dance, Dance Revolution
are all really good games that incorporate the video game
aspect with being really active.

Robyn: All right. Well, thank you so much for those tips, and thank
you to our viewers, and remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of
mind to your family with the best in educational
programming. To subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs,
or learn more, visit our website at LearnMore.me. That’s
LearnMore.me.

‘Tis the Season to Teach your Children to Give

During the holiday season, it is easy for children to get caught up in the “give me” or “I want” moments. It’s entirely natural for them toDonating with Kids be focused on the excitement of presents that come along with the holidays, but this can also be a time to illustrate the joy of not only receiving, but giving as well. Taking the time to demonstrate and teach your children the true meaning of the season will allow them to discover the personal satisfaction that comes along with getting involved and helping others.

Ways for your child to give:

  • Give Clothes. Have your children look through their closets and dresser drawers to find gently-used clothes that they no longer wear or do not fit into anymore. Give these clothes to organizations, such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army or other local thrift stores. Discuss with your children about how the winter season can leave many people cold and in need of warm clothes and blankets. Every little item that your child gives is helpful.
  • Give Toys. Have your children collect their toys, books and stuffed animals that they no longer play with. Although your son or daughter is looking forward to receiving new presents this holiday, there are many children that are not as fortunate. Help your children see that a beloved toy that once gave them so much joy can now bring happiness to another young boy or girl. These items can also be given to places such as a local children’s home, Goodwill or the Salvation Army.
  • Give Food. Your children as well as yourself can go through the pantry and kitchen cabinets to find different canned foods and boxed food items that you can give to a local shelter. If you have older children, consider taking them directly to the pantry and helping unload the food and stock the shelves. Holidays are a wonderful time for feasting and over-indulging; use this opportunity to demonstrate the need not only throughout the world, but also close to home.
  • Give Time. Your children can give some of their time to help elderly neighbors or family members with decorating for the holidays, wrapping presents, shoveling snow or other projects/tasks throughout the house. Older children can also give their time by volunteering at organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, soup kitchens, making meals for Ronald McDonald’s House or animal shelters. Speak with your children and allow them to take ownership in deciding on how and where they think they can help by using their talents to brighten someone’s day.
  • Give Holiday Cards and Crafts. Have your children create holiday cards and crafts. You and your children can deliver the holiday cards and crafts to a local nursing home or children’s hospital. Show your son or daughter that a “gift” doesn’t necessarily have to cost a lot of money in order to be appreciated. No matter the cost of a gift or if the gift is purchased from a store, the best presents are those that come from the heart.
  • Give Money. You and your children can choose an organization that you would like to donate money to. Selecting an organization that grows and provides food for families, saves endangered animals, builds homes for families or no kill animal shelters are just a few organizations that you may donate to. Deciding on an organization that is close to your family’s heart will help make the gesture more meaningful.

We are all guilty of losing sight of the true meaning of the holiday season. Use this time to teach your children that it is more important to give than just receive. Volunteering and donating as a family is a wonderful bonding experience as well as a way to demonstrate the importance of helping others. It does not take much to spread the holiday spirit. Remind our children that the holidays are so much more than getting the latest toy or video game. With commitment, these are qualities and traits that your children will begin to demonstrate all year long.

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3 Signs of Childhood Depression | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a licensed social worker gives us 3 signs to look out for when it comes to childhood depression.

Click here to read our popular blog outlining all symptoms and treatment of Childhood Depression

In this video you will learn:

  • What can cause a child to become depressed
  • Indications of depression in children

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics, to a worldwide audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now, your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn Ackerman, and I’m sitting here today with Ali Wein, a licensed professional social worker. Ali, can you give us three things to look out for inchildhood depression?

Ali: Absolutely. The main thing we really want to look for is any sort of deviation from typical behavior. So the first thing we want to note, are there any changes in eating or sleeping patterns? If your child usually wakes up really early in the morning and they fall asleep really early at night, and all of a sudden they’re having a harder time falling asleep at night and they’re requiring more hours of sleep per evening, this might be indicative of something greater going on underlyingly.

Additionally, any changes in the eating habits. Are they eating more? Are they eating less? Are they rapidly gaining and/or losing weight? Things that aren’t just sporadic, but you’re noticing changes in patterns of behavior. Another thing we want to look for is disinterest in previously enjoyed activities. So if your child really loves soccer and can’t wait for Tuesdays when they get to wake up in the morning and practice with their soccer team, all of a sudden they’re crying. They don’t want to go. They’re coming up with excuses because they just don’t want to go to soccer. That might be indicative of something else going on as well.

Finally, we also want to pay attention to any sort of change in personality, mood, and affect, affect being the way that we present ourselves. So if your child is typically really easygoing, calm, relaxed, and now all of a sudden they’re having trouble communicating, maybe, they’re a little bit more spaced out and more inattentive, they’re more easily to get angry and have outbursts, this might also be indicative of childhood depression.

Robyn: All right. Thank you so much for letting us know those three signs. Thank you to our viewers, and remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.

Developmental and Therapeutic Uses for Playdoh

There are so many common household items and children’s toys that have great therapeutic value when used or playedLittle girl playing Play-doh with in certain ways.  Playdoh may seem like an item that children use solely for creative play, but it can be a therapist’s and parent’s go-to activity that is both fun and extremely beneficial to a child’s development.

Developmental Skills that can be optimized through the use of Playdoh:

  • Hand Strength Whether your child is smashing the Playdoh into pancakes, squishing it so it explodes through their fingers, or using the Playdoh tools to create a spaghetti dinner, the muscles in the hand are constantly working and the Playdoh acts as a resistive force.  This is a great activity for kids who have handwriting difficulties, complain of getting tired while writing, don’t have a clearly defined hand dominance or have overall fine motor delays.
  • Bilateral Coordination Activities that target bilateral coordination and are fun to do at home may be difficult to come up with, but Playdoh is a great solution.  Many kids who have challenges with bilateral coordination often have difficulty with daily tasks like using a knife and fork to cut food and tying their shoes.  Kids can roll the Playdoh out into a flat “pancake-like” shape and then practice using a knife and fork to cut the food into small pieces.  This is a safe way to practice cutting foods as plastic utensil can be used and doesn’t waste food.  Cookie cutters or actual Playdoh toys with imprints of real food can also be used to add another layer to this activity.
  • Practicing Writing and Drawing Writing or drawing shapes in Playdoh is a great alternative to traditional writing activities; it may be more motivating for some kids who have difficulty with writing tasks while offering a resistive surface which improves hands strength at the same time.  Roll out Playdoh (modeling clay can be substituted for older kids who may benefit from a more resistive surface) onto a cookie sheet or similar surface and use a chopstick, pencil, or even the child’s finger to write letters.  For kids who are just learning to write or have a hard time with letter formation, shapes can be substituted, or an adult or older child can make a light impression of the letter and the child can trace using their full force.
  • Tactile Sensitivities For children  with tactile sensitivities, they are often fearful of or hesitant to touch a variety of textures.  Playdoh is a great transition item to use to bridge the gap between common firm/hard surfaces which are often “comfortable” and the textures which a child is sensitive to, such a soft, sticky and/or mushy to name a few.  Playdoh is easy to clean up and can be used in a variety of ways (cookie cutters, incorporate it with a child’s trains or action figures, have a tea party, etc), making it the perfect tool to introduce to a child who may have tactile sensitivities.  A great way to progress after becoming comfortable with store bought Playdoh is to find a recipe online for making your own Playdoh at home. These are often quick and easy recipes using common household items and can usually be colored in a fun way; some are even edible making this a total sensory experience and a lot of fun!

Playdoh has so many uses besides being a fun and creative tool for play for kids, but because it is fun and so versatile, it is an invaluable tool for working on therapeutic goals at home. There really isn’t a wrong way to use Playdoh as long as your kids are having fun and using their hands to explore.

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