Gross Motor Exercises for Kids in a Hotel

Staying in a hotel does not leave a lot of room to play which may leave a child bursting with energy! Here are some tips to provide an outlet for kids to have fun during hotel downtime while also improving their gross motor strength, coordination and to help with self-regulation.

11 Hotel Activities Concentrating on Gross Motor, Self Regilation and Coordination:

1. Assist parents in carrying luggage to and from room. This provides heavy work to help with self regulation.

2. Animal walks or races with siblings in hallways. These activities have many benefits, including self-regulation, core strength, endurance, motor planning and bilateral coordination.boy sitting on luggage

3. Crab walks- With body facing upwards, use hands and feet to hold up body weight, while walking on all fours with tummy facing the ceiling and keeping torso held up. This can be done forwards, backwards or even sideways!

4. Bear walks- With body facing downwards and hips bent, walk slowly on all fours with both arms and legs straight.

5. Frog jumps- Begin crouched down in a bent knee position, with knees pointed away from each other. Place both hands on the floor between knees and propel self up with the strength of the legs. Hop forward with both feet together; come down with hands and feet touching the ground at the same time.

6. Be creative! Have your child come up with their own animal walks.

7. Wheelbarrow walks in the hall way. Have your child lie on their stomach while grabbing their feet and raise their feet into the air. The “wheelbarrow” moves by walking on his/her arms while holding their stomach tight. This activity provides heavy work for self regulation, as well as motor planning, bilateral coordination, core strength and upper body strength.

8. Yoga poses- Choose a pose such as tree, plank or boat and see how long your child can hold it for (example: tree, plank, or boat. While holding a sustained contraction as in yoga poses, your child will be increasing their postural control, balance and as well as providing a self-regulation strategy.

9. Jumping Jacks or wall push ups. These easy exercises can be done anywhere to address not only self-regulation, but also bilateral coordination and motor planning.

10. Play “Simon Says”. Show your child a pose and see if they can recreate. This is a great way to increase your child’s motor planning and bilateral coordination. Make sure to incorporate both sides of the body with your poses!

11. Have your child lay on the floor to make numbers or letters with his/her body to address motor planning and bilateral coordination.

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5 Ways to Get Moving with Your Kids

Why not get moving with your kid instead of sitting around watching tv?

Why not get moving with your kid instead of going to a movie?

Why not get moving with your kid instead of baking a cake?

Why not get moving with your kid instead of playing on social media sites and tweeting?

Listen, watching t.v. can be fun, movies can be enriching, baking can be bonding, and tweeting can be exhilarating, but, it is so important to move and it puts everyone in a good mood. Here are five ideas to get you boogying with the boys or get flipping with the females!

 5 Ways To Get Up and Moving With Your Child:

1) Make an obstacle course. Winter? Make it inside. Use pillows, exercise equipment in the house, tables can be tunnels, brooms for jumping over, step stools to do step ups, etc. Think out of the box! Summer? Go outside and have fun with big rocks, bikes, jump ropes, etc. as part of the most fun obstacle course you have ever seen!family swimming

2) Turn up the music and dance! Winter? Dance Dance Revolution OR just boogie to the beat at home! Summer? Bring the music outside to the backyard and have fun!

3) Choose to swim in a pool durin downtime. Winter? Go to the YMCA, Lifetime Fitness, or if someone has an indoor pool in their building, ask to borrow it. Take a daytime room in a nearby hotel! Summer? try different pools and even hire a high school or college swim coach to get everyone doing laps! Have your own pool? Turn on some music and a timer and swim for exercise and fun!

4) Bike! Winter? Did you know you can buy a bike stand for your bike and bike as if you were outside all winter or on a rainy day? Summer? Get outside! Get lost a little and find your way back! Try different destinations each time!

5) Get back to your youth. Play a game of tag, freeze dance, red rover, simon says, mommy please, and other wonderful games that require you to move your body!

Your endorphins will be running wild! It will make your family so much happier!

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Kids & Vocal Nodules: What Parents Should Know

Approximately 4-6 out of every 100 children have a voice disorder.  Of the various disorders, vocal nodules is the most commonly cited in children.  By building healthy habits from the start, you can help keep your child’s voice healthy.  Read on to learn more about vocal nodules and how to keep your child’s voice healthy. 

What are vocal nodules?

Vocal cord nodules are small (noncancerous) growths that develop on the vocal cords as a result of vocal abuse.  “Vocal abuse” refers to boy with megaphoneany behaviors that overwork or harm the vocal cords, such as yelling, dehydration, or frequent coughing.  An isolated instance of vocal abuse might result in a soft swollen spot on the vocal cords, which can impact the sound quality of your voice.  For example, you might have a horse voice after an afternoon of cheering at a football game.  However, excessive and repeated instances of vocal abuse can eventually cause the swelling to become callous-like growths called nodules. 

How do I know if my child has vocal nodules?

There are several indicators that your child may have vocal nodules.  Vocal nodules will likely impact the sound of your child’s voice.  Indicators might include:

  • Voice may sound hoarse, harsh or scratchy
  • Child may have frequent voice breaks, or difficulty sustaining notes
  • Child may have pitch breaks during speech or singing
  • Voice may sound effortful or strained
  • Child may use an excessively loud voice
  • Child may strain their neck and shoulder muscles during speech
  • Child may experience pain in their neck or throat

What causes vocal nodules?

Vocal cord nodules are typically caused by behaviors that are harmful to the voice, such as:

  • Using an excessively loud voice
  • Emotional outbursts that include loud laughing, yelling, or crying
  • Frequent yelling, cheering or shouting
  • Dehydration or reduced fluid intake
  • Dryness, which may result from certain medications
  • Coughing, loud forceful sneezing, or throat clearing
  • Loud busts of voice or strained sounds.  This might occur when children make sound effects (e.g. explosion, bear growl, dinosaur roar, etc)
  • Insufficient breathing patterns

6 Tips to Promote a Healthy Voice

If you suspect that your child has vocal nodules, seek help from a license professional as soon as possible.  An evaluation will likely include an otolaryngologist (ear nose and throat doctor) and a speech-language pathologist.   Whether or not your child has vocal nodules, it’s important to promote a healthy voice from the start.  Here are 5 ways to encourage a healthy voice:

  1. Encourage your child to stay hydrated and drink lots of water.  Avoid caffeinated beverages as much as possible.
  2. Talk to your child about appropriate speaking volume.  Discuss appropriate times to use a loud voice, and appropriate times to use a quiet voice.  Give your child feedback and praise about their own speaking volume (“Wow, I like the way you used your inside voice when you told me that story.”)
  3. Encourage your child to find constructive ways to express their emotions.  For example, your child can clap their hands instead of yelling at a ballgame.  Or your child can verbalize how they feel, instead of screaming or shouting. 
  4. Build in daily quiet time for your child to rest their voice.  Especially if your child is engaging in prolonged periods of talking or singing, encourage them to rest their voice. 
  5. Avoid excessive whispering, coughing or throat-clearing.  Sometimes throat-clearing can become habitual, and may result from the throat feeling dry and sticky.  If this is the case, encourage your child to take sips of water.  Whispering can tire and dry out the vocal cords, so it’s best to limit whispering. 
  6. Finally, be a role-model.  Children learn by watching others around them.  Model the behaviors you want your child to exhibit, such as appropriate speaking volume and expressing emotions in a constructive way. 

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Girl Power!: How to Empower Middle School Girls

MIDDLE SCHOOL GIRLS. What comes to mind when you hear those words? Moody? Self-absorbed? Preoccupied with peers? I often hear parents ask, “What happened to my sweet little girl?” or “Why doesn’t she open up to me?” As a parent, you may feel frustrated, confused, or sad about your daughter’s behaviors, especially if she did not act this way before.

The transition from childhood to adolescence, marked by the shift from elementary to middle school, is a challenging time. In fact, this transition marks one of the peak times when self-esteem decreases. These “tweens” may feel caught in the middle-given more responsibilities and expectations and no longer treated like a child, yet not treated like an adult. These changes they go through in the adolescent transition can challenge their self-esteem levels-how they think and feel about themselves and how they think others perceive them.

3 Challenges to Self-Esteem:

1. Shifts in academic expectations:

Middle School introduces multiple teachers, different classes, and an increased homework load that students are responsible to juggle and middle school girlbalance. Students may struggle with these changes, which can impact how they view their intelligence and ability to succeed. If they viewed themselves as good students in elementary school, this transition can be especially challenging to their academic self-esteem.

2. Shifts in social expectations:

Middle school involves students from multiple elementary schools, and girls navigate the transition from having the same best friends in elementary school to determining which groups they belong to in middle school. With more focus on cliques and popularity, girls may feel confused, isolated, and anxious about fitting in and feeling accepted. The emphasis on who is “in” and “out” can create a heightened sense of awareness in girls about how their peers view them. With the constant shifts of what behaviors, attitudes, activities, and clothes are accepted and rejected by, girls may feel the need to reinvent themselves, which can create instabilities in self-esteem levels.

3. Shifts in physical appearance:

Middle school marks the beginning of physical changes (ex. Puberty, acne, weight and height changes, braces, glasses, etc), which can feel scary, overwhelming, and embarrassing. These uncomfortable feelings can stop girls from reaching out and discussing these changes. Because of this, it is possible for girls to feel very alone, as if they are the only ones having difficulties with these changes.

So, how do we address these challenges to girls’ self-esteem? We empower. While the adolescent transition is a challenge to self-esteem, it is also an opportunity to improve and build high self-esteem. Teaching girls tools to explore who they want to be; take care of themselves; reach out for support; and create meaningful, positive relationships can help strengthen self-esteem.

4 Tips to Address the Challenges and Empower

1. Create an open space for conversation. Girls transitioning to adolescence may feel isolated, as if they are the only ones going through difficulties. Acknowledging to your daughter, “Middle school brings lots of changes for everyone” and asking open ended questions, such as “What have you noticed that is different about middle school?” can show her that these topics are on the table. Even if she does not want to answer right away, knowing that her parents understand that changes exist can help her open up in the future.

2. Listen and provide empathy before problem solving. As a  parent, you may want to help your daughter by giving advice and problem solving. Before these steps, however, your daughter needs to feel heard. Show that you are present with your daughter by nodding, asking open-ended questions (“What happened next?” or “How did you feel?”), and checking in to make sure you understand (“So you are saying that your friend said something that made you feel embarrassed?”). Demonstrate empathy by acknowledging that she could feel this way (“I could understand why you would feel angry”), even if you disagree with her behaviors or would feel differently yourself. Once you listen and provide empathy, empower your daughter by helping her problem solve. Ask questions, such as “What do you think you should do?” and “What do you think would happen if you did that?” Problem solving can help your daughter explore what type of student, friend, sister, daughter, and person she wants to be. Guiding her through this process can help your daughter feel supported and effective, which can increase the likelihood of her opening up to you in the future.

3. Begin potentially uncomfortable conversations.  There are many conversations (peer pressure, romantic relationships, puberty, etc.) that can be potentially uncomfortable or awkward to have with your daughter. Beginning these conversations, however, is important so that your daughter knows she can talk to you about these issues. These conversations can also serve as an opportunity to discuss the importance of self-care, which can improve self-esteem levels. Bring up the conversation in a gentle, matter-of-fact way (“There are many physical changes you will be going through that can feel confusing. Let’s talk about them together”). Acknowledge, normalize, and empathize with possible discomfort and awkwardness. Beginning the conversation can show your daughter that you are there to support them through this time.

4. Create opportunities for positive relationship building.  Because girls transitioning to adolescence can feel isolated, opportunities for meaningful, positive connections are vital. This can include enhancing already-existing relationships or seeking new ones. One way to build relationships is to join a social group. North Shore Pediatric Therapy is offering a 10-week group for middle school girls to strengthen their self-esteem levels. Click here for more information.

Death: How to Explain it to Children

Sad girl with motherMany parents are concerned about discussing death with their children. They try to avoid the topic and some have said it’s one of their most feared topics to discuss with their children. Yet, death is a fact of life and if we aim to help our children cope, we must let them know it is okay to talk about it. Your efforts will help your child through this difficult time and through the inevitable losses and tough times that will come later in their lives. The death of a pet is often a child’s first experience with death. For information about talking with your kids about this, click here. 

How Children Understand Death at Various Ages:

Kids’ understanding about death depends on their age, life experiences, and personality.

Preschooler’s Understanding of Death

Preschoolers see death as reversible, temporary, and impersonal. They may see cartoon characters brush themselves off after being crushed or blown up and these images reinforce this notion. Kids at this age have a difficult time understanding that that all living things die and can’t come back.

5-9 Year Old’s Understanding of Death

Five to nine year-olds typically begin to realize the finality of death and that all living things die, but they do not see death as relating to them directly. They have magical thinking that somehow they can escape death. They also tend to visualize death as being a skeleton, the angel of death, the grim reaper, etc. Some children have nightmares about these personifications of death.

9-10 Year Old’s Understanding of Death

Nine or ten year-olds through teens begin to understand that death is irreversible, that all living things die, and that even they will die some day. Teenagers often become intrigued with finding out the meaning of life and search for meaning in the death. When teens ask why someone had to die, they are not looking for literal answers, but rather are trying to understand.

Remember, children develop at individual rates and have their own personal ways of managing their emotions.

10 Tips on Explaining Death to Children

1. Be honest with them and encourage their questions and expressions of emotions. It is important that kids know they can talk about it (even if you don’t have all the answers) and be sad, angry, scared, or whatever emotions they feel.

2. It is usually easier to talk about death when we are less emotionally involved. Children are exposed to mortality at a very young age: from dead flowers, trees, insects, or birds. Take time to explain these to children. Though it may sound morbid to us, it is an opportunity to help children learn about death.

3. For children under age 5 or 6, explain death in basic and concrete terms. Often it helps to explain it as the absence of familiar life functions. For example, “When Grandma died, she cannot breathe, eat, talk, think, or feel anymore.”

4. Kids often will repeatedly ask the same questions; it is how they process information. As frustrating as this can be, continue to calmly tell them that the person has died and can’t come back. Also, do not discourage their questions by telling them they are too young.

5. Try to answer children’s questions with brief and simple answers that are appropriate to their questions. Answers should be ones they can understand. Be careful not to overwhelm them with too many words.

6. Avoid using euphemisms such as telling children that the person “went to sleep” or “went away” or even that your family has “lost” the person. These explanations can lead young children to become afraid to go to sleep or worried when parents leave the house and “go away”.

7. Using the word “sickness” can be scary to young children. It is often helpful to explain to children that serious illnesses may cause death and although we all get sick sometimes, we usually get better again.

8. Avoid telling children that only old people die. When a child eventually learns that young people die too, they may not trust you. It may be better to say, “Grandpa lived a long time before he died. Most people live a long time, but some don’t. I think that you and I will.”

9. As children get older, they will have more questions and different questions about death. Take care to answer their questions as best you can.

10. When you don’t know the answers to children’s questions, don’t be afraid to say you don’t know.

If you need help, many resources including books, articles, community organizations, and social workers or counselors can provide guidance.

 

Some Books to Help Explain Death to Children/Teens

For preschoolers:

Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley- Andersen Press Ltd.

Granpa  by John Burningham

For ages 5 to 8:

Michael Rosen’s Sad Book by Michael Rosen

Gentle Willow by Joyce C. Mills.  One of few books written for children suffering an illness from which they may not recover.

For ages 8 to 12:

When Someone Very Special Dies by Marge Heegaard.  A practical workbook rather than a story. This book encourages children to illustrate their thoughts about death and loss through art.

The Cat Mummy by Jacqueline Wilson.  Begins to talk about the death of a feisty girl’s cat, but it then causes the child to think about the death of her mother many years ago.

What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies? By Trevor Romain.  Describes the range of emotions that people experience when a loved one dies and discusses how to cope.

For teens:

Straight Talk About Death for Teenagers by Earl A. Grollman.  A self-help book that discusses in straightforward terms, how to deal with the grief and other emotions caused by the death of a loved one.

The Grieving Teen by Helen FitzGerald.  A fairly sophisticated book that gives advice for teens on how to cope with death, discussing the emotional impact of bereavement and the special needs and concerns of teens during the grieving process.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.  A simple book that doesn’t describe heaven in the literal sense, but rather it establishes that every life has a purpose and that all uncertainties will be cleared up in the end.

 

*North Shore Pediatric Therapy, Inc. (NSPT) intends for responses to the blogs to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; all content and answers to questions should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s). Questions submitted to this blog are not guaranteed to receive responses. No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by NSPT to people submitting questions. Always consult with your health professional first before initiating or changing any aspect of your treatment regimen.

 

Why Your Child Needs Play Time With You!

When days are over-scheduled, make sure to save at least 15 minutes a day to just play with your child. Teach your child that down time is just asParents Playing with Daughter important as organized activities and daily responsibilities. It also teaches work-life balance early on, so he can better handle the stresses of school and eventually a career.

TV and video games may seem like the only thing your child is interested in, but what they truly crave is your attention and genuine connection. Video games can’t compete with the feeling a child gets when he get to share a special object, or even just a special moment, with his parent.

Tell your child to pick out 1 special toy and bring it to you so you can play together. When you’re down on the floor, on his level, look in his eyes and express genuine interest in what you’re doing together. Let him lead playtime with his imagination and excite your child with your facial expressions, sounds and your own imaginative ideas.

Quick tips for one-on-one play time with your child:

  • Play at eye-level and use loving touch
  • Unplug the electronics and give undivided attention
  • Commit to 15-20 minutes per day
  • Follow the child’s lead and join in his/her themes
  • Stimulate his/her creativity by asking questions
  • Use simple objects that can easily change meaning (i.e. a cardboard box is a car, and then it’s a hat, etc.
  • Children today don’t use their imagination enough, something they need in order to develop creativity. Designating a daily play time has a multitude of positive effects for your family.

8 Benefits of daily play time:

  • Sense of security
  • Stronger bonds
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Frequent stress relief
  • Less risk-taking behaviors
  • Less attention-seeking behaviors
  • Better mood throughout the day
  • More cooperation with rules/directions

Try it out and have a great time. Please share with us what your favorite things are to do with your child during one-on-one time!

*North Shore Pediatric Therapy, Inc. (NSPT) intends for responses to the blogs to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; all content and answers to questions should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s). Questions submitted to this blog are not guaranteed to receive responses. No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by NSPT to people submitting questions. Always consult with your health professional first before initiating or changing any aspect of your treatment regimen.

 

“I Don’t Know How She Does It!”: How Do We Balance Our Careers With Our Family Life?

High-powered finance executive by day, devoted wife and mother of two by night. “I don’t know how she does it!” How does she balance her career path with her family life? The movie “I don’t know how she does it,” starring Sarah Jessica Parker, sets out to explore this age-old question. So how do you do it? How do you successfully balance your professional and balancing work and familypersonal life? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers, nor is there one answer that works for everyone.

Explore these questions to decide what fits for you and your life:

1. What are my priorities at this point in my life?

  •  Priorities change over time. Your priorities may change based on your age, the age of your children, where you are in your career, and your relationships with partners, friends, relatives, and co-workers.
  • Exploring with yourself what your current priorities are can help you formulate a plan. If your priority is time spent with your children, for example, what will that look like when you have a deadline to meet? If your priority is advancement in your career, what will that look like when your family decides to go on vacation? Exploring these difficult questions beforehand can help you brainstorm possible ways to act based on your priorities.
  • Periodically asking yourself about your priorities is a helpful way to remind yourself that it is normal and okay for priorities to shift and for your answers to career/family balance questions to also change.

2. What are my boundaries?

  • Many parents discuss the importance of boundaries when it comes to their professional and personal lives. Setting boundaries is one way to maintain guidelines.
  • Questions of career/family balance occur often. Your boss asks you to stay late, but your child has a math test the next day. Your children want to spend time with you, but you have a presentation to work on. Having pre-set boundaries can give you something to fall back on.
  • Asserting and communicating your boundaries to your workplace and family is important so that everyone is informed and on the same page about the way you want to balance your professional and personal life.

3. How can I cope when things do not go the way I had planned or hoped?

  • Exploring your priorities and setting boundaries will not set answers in stone for you. Sometimes you make difficult choices in a way that you had not planned. Sometimes you cannot keep your boundaries. This is normal and okay—juggling a career with a family is extremely complicated and challenging, and no one does exactly what they planned or hoped to do every time.
  • Accept yourself as a human being that may have to make choices that you did not anticipate. Explore with yourself what can help you cope when this time comes. Do you write in a journal? Talk to a friend or spouse? Exercise? Take some alone time? What is it that works for you to feel hopeful, at peace, and confident in yourself as an employee and parent? How can you let go of possible guilty, sad, anxious, or hopeless feelings?

4. How can I gain support?

  • Balancing your career and family life is a constant process and journey, and as employees and parents, reaching out for help and support is vital for your well-being.
  • When do you need support? Recognizing when you need help is important so that you receive the support you deserve. What helps you feel supported? Take some time to think about what makes you feel refreshed, energized, calm, and happy. With busy schedules of maintaining the career/family balance, some parents may say they do not have time to engage in self-care activities. Taking time (even if it is just 5 minutes) to feel supported, however, can help you feel more energized throughout the day.

Exploring these questions about career/family life balance can help you to begin thinking about how YOU would answer the question of “How do you do it?” No two parents are exactly alike, and answering this challenging question in a way that fits with your unique beliefs, background, needs, wants, family, and career is important, rather than finding the “right” answer.

So, parents: How do you do it? Sharing your stories with each other can create connection, spark new ideas to try, and help you to see that every person balances their careers and family life differently.

Here is a list of how some of our very own North Shore Pediatric Therapy staff maintain the career/family balance:

CEO, Married, Father of 5:

“First, you can bring your kids to work once in awhile and let them experience your work world. You can also talk about issues that are age-appropriate with your children so they learn what you do and what you deal with so they become interested, learn, and grow from your work experience. This can also help them to work harder at school with their peers. Another suggestion is to ask your children if they feel they have enough time with you, and if not, ask them how would they like things to change for the better. Scheduling in one-on-one time with your children is a good way to help them feel important. Be interested in their work and what they do in school. It is important that you’re not just talking about your work but letting them know their work is also important—acknowledge their stresses and responsibilities.”

President/Founder, Married, Mother of 5:

“First, don’t forget your children at school! Oh boy, I have five and a few times when I was treating kids at NSPT late I got calls to work from the kids ‘Hi mom, I’m in the office, you forgot to pick me up!’ The best thing is that the kids knew I was working hard and loved it and they knew when I wasn’t working I was 100% all for them. Turn off all screens and concentrate on them when you are “off” and they will always be “on” for you! Second, kids actually don’t want SO MUCH attention from you. So, when they come home from wherever they are, just turn 100% attention to them. Tell them they have 20 minutes of YOU YOU YOU. You will see that after about 3-5 minutes of talking to you or hugging or whatever they need, they have other business to tend to like playing, eating, talking on the phone, homework, friends, pets, and will continue on their merry way! Third, work somewhere where you are happy. Happy mom equals happy family!”

Family-Child Advocate, Married, Mother of 3:

“We just celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary on the 11th and have 3 children. Our oldest son Bill just graduated from medical school in June, our daughter Caitlin was married in May and our youngest Matthew has moved back to complete college at UIC for pre-med. All three have had learning differences so in addition to always working full time we had to factor in therapy and tutoring etc. We found that good communication and ORGANIZATION were the keys to getting it all done. In our case it was not “I don’t know how she does it”, it was always “This is mandatory for success” so it took priority and a schedule. We have a large centralized calendar and we had family meetings once a month to go over the schedule and we gave responsibility to the kids when they were old enough! Another thing that is key to getting it all accomplished is a sense of humor! Things happen and the wheels fall off of the best laid plans, but it helps to laugh!”

Clinical Consultant, Married, Mother of 2:

Make sure you leave work at work. When you come home and see your children for the first time, pay attention to them. Assign a time every night to hear about their day, talk about what they did and just spend valuable time with them. Save your work stories for your spouse after the kids go to bed. If you work from home it is especially important that your children know how long you will be on the computer for or on a conference call for. You can say to them “Mommy will be doing work for 45 minutes, but after I am done you get to choose an activity for us to do together”. You can even set a timer so they have a visual of when you will be able to bring your attention back to them. Leave weekends to family time. We call every Sunday “Sunday Funday Family Day” in our house. The children know that on that day they have our undivided attention!”

Neuropsychologist, Married, Father of 2:

“When I get home, my wife and I focus on our kids…getting them fed, going through routines, preparing for school the next day, spending time together…until they go to bed. Then, my wife and I have time together, where we process our days. Any work that I have to do, I do when everyone is asleep. So my time is spent first on my kids, then my wife, and then me.”

Occupational Therapist, Married, Mother of 2 toddlers:

“First, I love my career and my family. That helps everything. Second, I decided that the concept of balance, as it relates to career and family life, is unrealistic for me. So I have gone with the concept of seasons or synergy instead. Some weeks I’m going to come in to work early, stay late, and work on the weekends, some weeks the opposite will be true. If I expect that of my career and communicate that ahead of time to my family I don’t feel I’m disappointing them or myself during he hard weeks. Finally, I really value and prioritize my relationship with my husband – we are the ones running our crazy show together, so we need to be happy together for the most part.”

Speech Language Pathologist/Branch Director, Married, Mother of 1:

“As a mom of a 12 month old boy, I think the balance is all about finding a schedule and sticking to it. If you know what works, make sure to keep a routine that is predictable for you and your child. However, you also need to be flexible and able to change, so your schedule shouldn’t be too rigid. Most importantly, laugh! Keep a good sense of humor and go with the flow, even if things don’t turn out as planned. So what if the dishes aren’t washed and the laundry isn’t folded. At least my son went to bed happy and I have some quiet time to catch up with my husband and work!”

We would love to hear what you do, post a comment and tell us how you manage to balance work and family!

Teaching Your Child To Care

Teaching your child to care for others is an important role that each and every parentgirl caring for friend carries.

Often, people assume that compassion is a born instinct, but it can also be taught. Yes, all people are born with some level of a “caring gene”, just as Babe Ruth was born with a talent to play baseball. However, if Babe Ruth was never introduced to baseball, never taught the rules of the game, never tried to play, then what good would his natural talent have been? Everybody can be taught to feel for others; you just have to start teaching them while they are young and continue teaching them by example!

Here Are Some Tips to Help Your Child Learn To Be More Compassionate:

Start Young

  • Start teaching your child to care for others as soon as they are able to communicate.During play-time, role-play with your baby on dolls. Show them how to hold, hug and care for the doll. Even pretend the doll got hurt and show your baby how to comfort the doll. Playing with your child and a doctor’s kit is another great way to show your child to care for others and how one person makes another feel better.
  • It’s also important to teach your child in the moment. When at the playground or on a play-date and your toddler’s friend falls down or gets hurt, bring it to your toddler’s attention. You can say to your toddler: “Oh no, Joey got hurt, and is very sad. I think it would make him feel better if you gave him a hug”. This will ensure that when your child is in preschool, he or she will more likely be the kid who helps his or her friends instead of running past them when they get hurt.
  • Just as teaching your children to care for those who are hurt physically, it’s equally important to teach your child to be aware of those who get hurt emotionally. Let your child know that it is not okay to hurt other’s feelings. This will prove to be vital when your child is in grade school and Bullying begins.

Lead by Example

  • Parents are the first teacher a child ever has. Everything a parent does, their child is watching, taking notes and learning from. Show your child how to be compassionate. When you see a homeless person on the street, stop and give him/her some spare change. Afterward, explain to your child why you helped that person. How there are people out there less fortunate. Let your child know that there are children who may not have as many toys as your child. Ask your child how it would make them feel to not have all the things he/she has.
  • Often, people get frustrated when they have to pull over to let an ambulance or fire-truck pass by because it delays them to their destination. Instead of getting irritated, say out loud how you hope the ambulance or firemen get there in time to help those in trouble.

Find Local Places to Visit

  • Along with leading by example, you can help your child become caring and compassionate by actually working with those in need. Many nursing homes have programs where you can bring children to come and talk to residents.
  • You can also take your child to a soup kitchen to help serve people in need. Let your child feel good about helping others!
  • Have your child bring a bag of toys to a children’s home to give to less fortunate children. There are plenty of websites that offer information on places and ways you and your child can help. Below are a couple of examples:

 http://www.redcross.org/volunteertime/ and http://www.volunteermatch.org/

So go ahead, turn off your T.V. and video games and go out with your child into the world to make a difference!

I welcome any comments on more opportunities for children to “care”!

Stranger Danger: Teaching Your Children to be Safe

Teaching children about “stranger danger” is about teaching the possible dangers they may face as they are out in the world. But, this is not as simple as saying, “Don’t talk to strangers.” I tell children that it is safe to talk to strangers when they are with a grownup they know (such as when a child is with Mom at the Stranger at parkgrocery store and the nice older woman asks what her name is).

We need to teach our children to be functionally weary of strangers. It’s important that your children feel confident rather than fearful. Having information will help them know what to do rather than being afraid if a stranger approaches them.

 

Educating children on good vs. bad strangers

Kids should be taught that not all people they don’t know are dangerous. They need to know the difference between “good strangers” and “bad strangers”. They should know that there really are more good people than bad. Sometimes, kids may need to approach a stranger for help. They may get lost in a store and need help finding you. Teach your children about the best possible stranger to approach for help.

When in public, a good rule of thumb is to teach children to ask an employee (who is easily identified by a uniform or name badge). If your child cannot find an employee, or is not lost in a store, he is better off approaching a woman for help. Although female predators exist, they are less common than male predators. Also, approaching a mom with children is usually a good bet.

Ploys by Predators and What to Do

Some strangers can be persuasive. Tell your children that adults don’t usually need help from a child. It makes more sense for them to ask another adult for directions, finding a lost pet, etc. Children should be taught to never go anywhere with an adult they don’t know.

Predators can be sneaky. They may tell your child that he is a friend of yours and you sent him to pick up your child. Or, the predator may tell your child that you have been injured or are sick and the child has to come with the predator to come see you.

What to tell your child if you can’t pick him up:

  • Explain to your child that you will never send anyone he doesn’t know to pick him up. Tell him if anyone says otherwise, the person is lying and he should get away from the stranger as fast as he can.
  • If you don’t have a group of trusted people who could pick up your child in an emergency, choose a password that you will give to the person picking up your child. The password should be something important to your family that would be difficult for a stranger to guess.
  • Tell your child never to go with anyone who doesn’t know the password and change the password after each use.

9 Stranger Danger Tips to Teach Your Children

1. Know your name, address, and phone number (this will help if the child needs help from the police to get home or contact you).

2. Never walk anywhere alone (this is great for older kids too).

3. Trust your instincts. If you feel you are being followed or something is not right, find help right away.

4. If a stranger approaches you, you do not have to speak to him.

5. Never approach a stranger in a motor vehicle. Just keep walking.

6. Do not accept candy or other “presents” from a stranger.

7. Never walk off with a stranger no matter what!

8. If someone is following you, try to remember the license plate of the vehicle and tell a trusted adult right away.

9. If a stranger grabs you, do anything you can to stop him from pulling you away or dragging you into his car. Drop to the ground, kick, hit, bite, and scream. Get the attention of others who can help you. Scream out, “This is not my dad,” or “this is not my mom!”

 

*North Shore Pediatric Therapy, Inc. (NSPT) intends for responses to the blogs to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; all content and answers to questions should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).  Questions submitted to this blog are not guaranteed to receive responses.  No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by NSPT  to people submitting questions.  Always consult with your health professional first before initiating or changing any aspect of your treatment regimen.

Helping Your Child Plan and Organize Their Daily Lives

The start of school brings many changes with children’s daily lives. Children must be able to transition between subjects, organizing their work, sitting at home, and independently taking the initiative to do their homework and monitor their own productivity. These above behaviors all fall under the label of “executive functioning.”

homework with mom and daughterMany children are able to complete these tasks and behaviors independently; however, a large portion of children also struggle with one or more of the behaviors and tasks. As a result, many children benefit from strategies to help develop their organization, planning, problem solving, time management, and monitoring of their work.

Parents vs. Children on Homework Assignments

As a psychologist, I often have parents inform me about constant battles that they have with their children to complete daily homework assignments. Specifically, parents often report to me that their children will do anything but start their homework (surfing the internet, texting friends from their cell phones, or watching television/playing video games).

Two major executive functioning tasks are involved with the child’s ability to complete daily homework: Initiation of action and time management. Children who demonstrate issues with their ability to complete daily homework benefit from strategies and interventions that target their ability to start and complete their work in a timely fashion.

Tips to help children complete daily homework:

  • Developing a daily “Need to” (homework, chores) and “Want to” (baseball practice, dance lessons, video game time) list of tasks
  • Prioritizing the list with estimated time requirements for each task
  • Verbally and physically prompting your child before starting each task by (e.g., “John, what is the next thing we should do?” while tapping him on the shoulder)
  • Positively reinforcing all self-initiating tasks by giving praise when your child starts a project on his/her own

Dealing With Your Child’s Forgetfulness About Assignments

Another major area of concern I hear from parents is that although their children are able to actually complete the work, they struggle with their organizational skills and will either forget about the assignments or lose the work between home and school. As a result of the difficulties with organization, all children benefit from strategies to improve this area of functioning.

Strategies that have proven to be effective with the development of a child’s organization include:

  • Structuring and scheduling designated ‘study time’ as part of your child’s daily routine.
  • Completing homework in a central location away from distracters including television, computer, telephone, and other people who might be disruptive.
  • Creating time-lines for long-term projects, breaking tasks down into basic elements with separate due dates for each task.
  • Discussing homework expectations with their teacher to determine the recommended amount of study time.

With the start of school, we want to help children be as organized as possible and ready to complete daily homework in a timely fashion. Following the above strategies and developing some of your own will ensure that your child will be more organized and less stressed!