Building Self-Esteem in Children

Building Self-Esteem in Children

A child’s self-esteem is very important as it helps with his daily successes. If a child is able to start off the day with a positive outlook then the child will be able to follow directions in class and become a better learner. A child can build self-esteem by forming and maintaining positive relationships with family, friends and other people he comes in contact with, for example, teachers, therapists and other adults. A child can also build self-esteem when he hears positive praise, when he does something good or when he is able to learn and master new skills. Often times a barrier can be placed in front of a child that will cause him to lose his self-esteem. Negative comments from people such as adults or bullies are the fastest thing that can tear a child down.

How can we teach our kids self-esteem?Building Self-Esteem in Children

  1. Praise the child
  2. Be there for the ups and downs. Use the down times for teaching and educating.
  3. Accept the child for who they are
  4. Allow the child to be themselves
  5. Don’t just celebrate the wins but teach from the loses

Is there a point where you are being too positive and too much of a cheerleader?

Children need to know that they are supported in every arena they enter. When it starts to hinder the child is when realistic expectations start to be forgotten and children are expected to do things that are over his head. Too much cheerleading can cause the child to lose hold of what is expected and what is required. There needs to be a fine line with building positive self- esteem and enabling children.






baby sign language

The 411 on Baby Sign Langauge

What is Baby Sign Language?

Baby sign language is one example of an unaided communication system which permits infants and toddlers a means of communication using gestures. It allows for young children to adequately have their needs and wants met before they are able to verbally communicate. It also gives parents and caregivers another fun way to bond with the child.

Why is baby sign language beneficial?

By providing a child with a different means for communicating, children at an early age present with reduced frustrationbaby sign language by having their needs and wants met more consistently. It also gives children another means of bonding with their parents and caregivers, as they are able to engage more functionally with each other. Additionally, some research has shown that children who are introduced to early signs have been shown to verbally communicate more quickly, and at a younger age, than peers who are not exposed to signs. Though the jury is still out, other research has suggested that children who use baby signs have higher IQ’s as well!

Some helpful tips for using Baby Sign Language:

  • When should we start? Children between the ages of 6-9 months will benefit most from early introduction to baby signs. Parents should note that it can take a couple of weeks or a few months for their baby to begin using the signs. As the child’s fine motor skills continue to develop, the accuracy of the signs will continue to increase, so parents need not worry if the early signs are just approximations and are not completely accurate. Therefore, be realistic with the timeline and know that most children will not begin using signs immediately after they are introduced.
  • How do they learn? Parents and caregivers should remember to pair the signs with spoken words in order to reinforce verbal communication. Children learn through demonstration and practice, though they should continue to be exposed to verbal communication to help their language develop. Additionally, it is important to make sure the child is looking at their conversational partner when they are engaged. Parents and caregivers can provide a visual model for the child and even give the child tactile support to help them use the gestures with their own hands.
  • Make it meaningful! Early signs should be meaningful to the child and can contain names of family members, pets, and requests. Signs such as “Mom/Dad, milk, more, all done, and dog” are good choices for first signs. Secondary vocabulary could contain favorite foods and toys as well as simple action words.
  • Keep it simple! Make sure not to introduce too many signs too quickly. Stick to 3-5 signs in the beginning and be consistent! Use the signs throughout the day in a variety of settings in order for the child to generalize them in different environments. Once those signs have been mastered, parents can continue to add new signs and tailor the vocabulary to be more functional and meaningful to the child.
  • Be persistent! In order to succeed, parents have to remember to be patient! It can seem like a slow process in the beginning, so consistency is key. Parents and caregivers should remember to keep this teaching process fun and interesting, and give the child ample opportunities to practice, offering hand-over-hand support when needed. Encourage the child to use the signs, particularly with motivating objects, people, or items and frequently reward their success.

Click here to watch a short video on how to sign the word “more.”

Click here to watch a video on how to introduce two-word sentences with sign.

potty training and sensory processing disorder

8 Potty Training Tips for a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

“Uh-oh, pee pee in my pants!” will most likely become a joke around your household. Often, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and difficulty in potty training go together like peanut-butter and jelly.

Developmentally speaking, children become ready to be potty trained between the ages of 18-36 months. Don’t let that age bother you or become a source of stress, though.  All children develop at different ages. Children with SPDpotty training and sensory processing disorder might take a little longer to toilet train depending on their sensory needs. 

Remember, the body has five senses: vision, hearing, smell, touch and taste, and each sense is integrated into our bodies differently. In addition, the body has a sensation known at interoception, which refers to your “body centered” functions that require no conscious thought. These are necessary life functions including heart rate, hunger, thirst and digestion, state of arousal, digestion and bowel movements.  Children with sensory processing disorder maybe over-responsive (sensory avoiding) or under-responsive (sensory seeking) to one of more these sensations, leading to different manifestations of difficulties with potty training.

Is can be difficult to determine what is the most efficient way to help your potty training child with SPD. Remember to go at your child’s pace for potty training. Allow your child to develop the skills to become physically and emotionally ready by providing positive reinforcement. Avoid punishing your child or criticizing them in their efforts to learn, no matter if your child is 2 or 6 years old.

Here are 8 tips for potty training your child with Sensory Processing Disorder:

  1. Prepare your child by reading a toilet training book. Children learn well with visual supports. Books like Once Upon a Potty written by Alona Frankel provide humorous visuals for both boys and girls. Sesame Street had made a video titled Elmo’s Potty Time that eases a child’s toileting anxiety with songs and rhymes.
  2. Prepare the bathroom for sensory sensitive children by provide soft lighting, soft toilet tissue, and making the bathroom as quiet as possible. For sensory seeking children, provide bright light with fun music.
  3. Be aware of the techniques that help calm your child. If your child enjoys deep brushing or hugs, provide these prior to sitting him on the toilet seat.
  4. Provide a padded toilet seat for your child to combat tactile sensitivities to cold temperatures as the seasons change.
  5. As your child transitions from pull-ups to underwear, be conscious of seam placements and the material of the underwear.
  6. Give your child a fun experience by allowing him to choose which underwear to buy– after all, clothes (even the ones that are not seen) should be fun!
  7. For a child who has difficulty in feeling the sensations of needing to “go”, encourage him to use the toilet on a schedule (start with every hour). Provide positive reinforcement for your child trying!
  8. If your child is anxious about the automatic flush in public restrooms, cover the sensor with a post-it note to eliminate scary surprises.

As a parent, potty training can be one of the most frustrating times of your child’s development. Just remember, your child is learning from and with you!

Looking to help your child with SPD succeed in school? Register for our FREE Live Webinar | Sensory Strategies for School Success on November 17th.






mastering morning routines

Mastering Morning Routines

 

 

 

Many parents report the most anxiety prone time of the day is the weekday mornings. There is much going on in a very limited time. Parents often need to ensure that they are ready for work and have their children ready for school. This time of day is difficult for most children; however, children with attention problems or executive functioning weaknesses are much more prone to exhibit significant weakness with regard to their ability to follow routines and get out the door on time. Although it is difficult, it is not impossible for these children to be ready to go on time! Mastering the morning routine is the best way to get the family out the door, happily, each day.

Steps to Master the Morning Routine:

The main recommendation is to keep the mornings as structured and consistent as possible. Have the schedule planned and written out. Think about all daily routines from waking up, brushing teeth, getting dressed, to leaving the house. Think about not only the tasks that are expected of the child but also a reasonable amount of time to complete each task. It may come down to it that the list of expectations placed on the child’s morning is not realistic (today) and there might have to be some modifications.

Once it has been established that the tasks in the morning are reasonable, create a chart with picture cues for each task. Also, have the time expected for each task written down next to that item.

The first few days or weeks will require a significant amount of adult assistance to help ensure the child is finishing the tasks in the appropriate order within the required time allotments. Use strategies such as reinforcing completed tasks, timers, and praise.

Morning routines can be hectic but do not have to be impossible. With structure, organization support, and use of reinforcement, many children with attention concerns and executive functioning weaknesses are able to stay to the routine and get out the door in time.




Child's flowers

Nurturing With Nature: Fun Outdoor Crafts

 

 

 

Here is a way to combine an adventure outdoors with a fun craft project!  Any of these crafts can be modified for any age group so everybody can join in the fun!

1)    Nature Tea Light Holder

            Supplies:

  • Leaves and foliage
  • Glass votive holder or jar (can find these cheap at dollar stores)
  • White tissue paper
  • White craft glue
  • Water
  • Paintbrush
  • Tea light candles

   Steps to create:

  1. Child's flowersCollect small leaves and other foliage from outside. Make sure they aren’t too dry or crumbly.
  2. Lay leaves in a single layer and place a large book on top to flatten them. Leave for an hour or two.
  3. Spread a layer of white craft glue on the outside of the votive holder. Stick the leaves to the glue and press into place. Let dry.
  4. Mix equal parts of water and white craft glue to create a paste.
  5. Tear tissue paper into squares about one to two inches in size.
  6. Use a paintbrush to glue the tissue paper over the leaves using the decoupage mixture. Overlap the tissue paper and make sure all of the glass is covered. Carry over the lip of the votive holder as well and be sure that the tissue paper is “painted” against the inside of the glass.
  7. Allow the jars to dry overnight.
  8. Place a tea light candle inside each votive holder!

2)    Flower Prints

            Supplies:

  • Fresh flowers
  • White drawing paper
  • Eight-color set watercolor paints
  • Paintbrush
  • Small container of water
  • Sheets of scrap paper

Steps to Create:

  1. Gather the flowers to use for making the flower prints.  Flowers that have distinct petals produce the best results.
  2. Remove the stems from the flowers to help them press flat while making the prints.
  3. Take a sheet of paper and choose one flower to start.  Gently paint, flower side up, with the watercolor paint.
  4. Flip the flower and position on the paper, painted side down. Place a sheet of scrap paper over the flower and gently press. Remove the scrap paper, lift the flower, and check out the cool print!

3)    Rocky Mosaic

Supplies:

  • Small rocks or pebbles
  • Cardboard
  • Glue
  • Tempera paints
  • Small paint brush
  • Pencil

            Steps to Create:

1. Take a nature walk and pick up a cup full of small pebbles and rocks.
2. Draw shapes or pictures on the piece of cardboard with a pencil.
3. Label the shapes and/or pictures on the cardboard with the names of each color you will paint the rocks. (This will depend on             what color paint you have available!)
4. Paint each rock/pebble the different colors that are labeled on the cardboard.
5. Lay the cardboard on a flat surface. Glue each rock to the area labeled with the matching color.
6. Let the glue dry overnight…the picture mosaic will then be ready to hang up!!






 

Girl with painted hands

School is Out: Crafts for the Summer!

The weather is warm and children (and teachers) are getting antsy.  This could only mean one thing…SCHOOL IS OUT FOR SUMMER!  Here are some ideas for crafts for the summer that can be created and enjoyed outside.

Beaded Wind Chimes

Supplies:

  • Paper cup
  • Pipe cleaner
  • String or Yarn
  • Big beads
  • Small bells
  • Metal washer
  • Drinking straws
  • Poster paint or acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch

Steps:

1)     Trim a paper cup to a height of approximately 2 to 3 inches.

2)     Punch 4 evenly-spaced holes around the cup’s mouth. Punch a small hole at the center of the paper cup base.

3)     Paint the paper cup with poster paint and make your own designs.  *Use acrylic paint if the surface of your paper cup is glossy or waxy.

4)     Cut 4 equal lengths of string about 12 in. long. Cut a 5th string that is 14 in. long—this will be the pendulum.

5)     Tie a small bell at the end of 4 of the strings.Girl with painted hands

6)     Cut drinking straws into 1-inch long pieces.

7)     String beads and drinking straws through each of the 4 strings. Leave 1.5 to 2 inches at the top of each string.

8)     Attach the beaded strings to the painted paper cup through the punched-out holes.

9)     To make the pendulum:

— Trim a pipe cleaner to 6 in. and make a loop on one end.

— Tie one end of the 5th string through the loop on the pipe cleaner. Attach a metal washer on the other end of the string.

10)  Attach the pendulum by inserting the end of the pipe cleaner through the hole at the center of the paper cup. Pull all the way through, the loop on the pipe cleaner serves as a stopper and as the wind chime’s handle.

11)  Check if the metal button or washer is at the same level as the bells.

12)  Hang outside and let the breeze work its magic!

Paper Plate Frisbees

Supplies:

  • 4 paper plates
  • Markers, crayons, or paint (will need paint brushes)
  • Scissors
  • Clear shipping tape

Steps:

1)     Place both plates right side up, as if you were going to put food on them. Cover them with clear shipping tape, allowing the excess tape to overlap, but do not fold it over.

2)     Use the scissors to cut off the excess around the plate.

3)     Turn the plates upside down and use markers or crayons to decorate as you wish.

4)     Place both plates together so that the decorated sides are facing out. Holding the plates together, cut a circle out of the center of each plate.

5)     Place both plates, decorated side facing up, onto the work surface. Using the clear shipping tape, cover the decorated side, over lapping the center circle. Fold the edges over through the center circle and trim the edges of the outside of the plate.

6)     Place the two plates together, decorative side facing outward, and tape all of the edges together.

Bubble Painting

Supplies:

  • Paint—tempera (liquid or powder)
  • Liquid Dishwashing soap
  • Drinking straw
  • Paper—construction or copy
  • Large shallow dish (2-3)

 

Steps:

1)     Pour a quarter cup liquid dishwashing detergent into a shallow dish. If you use powdered tempera paint, mix a small amount of water with the paint. (If you want to have a variety of colors, use multiple shallow dishes for each color)

2)     Add the paint mixture or liquid tempera to the dishwashing liquid until the color is very dark.

3)     Place one end of a straw into the mixture, and blow until the bubbles are almost flowing over the edge of the dish.

4)     Gently place a piece of paper on top of the bubbles and hold it in place until several bubbles have popped.

5)     Continue this process with different colors, blowing more bubbles as needed.

*This technique is wonderful for making home-made greeting cards!!

Mix together the paint and some washing up liquid in the tray. Add some water until it is runny enough to blow bubbles. Use the drinking straw to blow into the paint to make bubbles.

Gently place the paper on top of the bubbles. When the bubbles pop remove the paper and leave to dry.






Tips For Getting Your Child To Focus

Feeling frustrated that every time you turn your back, your child has once again escaped the kitchen table so nicely decorated with math workbooks, spelling words and other scattered assignments? Practicing these tips to enhance focus and attention will foster greater independence with homework completion and other tasks that require a calm body and mind.

1. Recognizing on- vs. off-topic thought content

One way to regain focus and attention is through gaining insight into the nature and content of our thoughts. If we are supposed to be doing math homework, our brains need to be thinking of math-related topics. This is called on-topic thinking. If you are doing math and thinking about what you are going to eat for dinner or your next Lego creation then you are experiencing off-topic thinking as these thoughts are unrelated to the task at hand. Getting refocused is as simple as switching your thoughts to support on-topic material. If you see your child glazed over, doodling, or getting up to engage in an alternative activity, call their attention to their thought process, have them recognize if they are on- or off-topic, and encourage them to think of thoughts that would support on-topic thinking.

 2. Deep breathing and muscle relaxation activities

If your child is having a hard time sitting still and attending to their homework, a family conversation at dinner, or on a directive, encourage them to engage in these fun activities:

Deep breathing. Encourage your child to take 10 deep breaths. This will slow breathing, cancel out other “noise” and regain attention to the here and now.

-Following deep breathing, encourage your child to do a series of tightening and loosening of their muscles 10 times (this can be a body scan, going through the muscles one by one to tighten and then loosen, or squeezing the whole body tightly and then releasing after 10 seconds)

-Whole body listening. Making sure that the body is calm will aid in focus and attention to the task at hand. Feet are calmly on the floor, hands are calm and not fidgeting, eyes are looking at the material, mouth is closed unless it is their turn to speak, ears are listening, and brain is thinking about on-topic thoughts.

3. Setting a timer

This will increase autonomy over homework and reduce parental frustration as the timer is an objective tool that the child can refer to keep them on task. You can set the timer for various increments of time and it can also provide options for necessary movement breaks. You can set the timer to delineate the amount of time needed to focus on work and/or set the timer for a series of movement breaks that may help the child get through longer tasks. For example, if your child has 45 minutes of homework, you can have the child do 10 minutes of work with a 5 minute break, 10 minutes of work, 5 minute break, etc. this will allow your child to get through their work with the intention of getting a chance to move around so that homework doesn’t seem daunting and their “breaks” give them a chance to refocus.

4. Repeat directions.

Encourage your child to repeat back directives to ensure that they have heard your message. Make sure that your child is engaging in whole body listening to really encourage focus and attention. Redirect your child into whole body listening if they are not to ensure that they are focusing on your message.


Easy Activities to Help with Cabin Fever

While winter has over-extended its stay, but your kids do not need to go “stir crazy”!  Here are some easy activities that can be done with ages 3 years and older. The best news is that most of the supplies can be found in your home or can be purchased for a very cheap price!

Kool-Aid Playdough

Ingredients:
• 1 1/4 cup flour
• 1/4 cup salt
• 1 pkg unsweetened Kool-aid packet
• 1 cup boiling water
• 1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Directions:
Step 1:  In a bowl, mix flour, salt, and kool-aid
Step 2: Stir in water (ADULTS should do this step!)
Step 3: Stir in oil
Step 4: Mix with a spoon and let it cool for a couple minutes
Step 5:  Knead with hands for about 5 minutes (you may need to sprinkle a little more flour if mixture is sticking to hands)

The playdough will take on the color of the flavor you chose and will smell like it too!  It can be stored  in a plastic baggy for months.

Popsicle Stick Craft Ideas

These sticks are sold in large boxes so you are able to make multiple items…the finished product also makes for great gifts!
Here are some ideas of what can be created:

• Picture frame
• Jewelry box
• Pencil holder
• Keepsake box
• Bird house

Ingredients:

  • Box of popsicle sticks (there are two sizes, thinner and thicker sticks)
  • Glue (Elmer’s glue can be used, but a tacky glue is recommended)
  • Misc. decorations: crayon, marker, paint, glitter, felt, cardboard, construction paper, etc.

Directions:

Step 1: Decorate sticks with misc. supplies.  If using paint or glitter, let sticks dry.
Step 2: Use a dime-size of glue on each end of the sticks when building your creation.
Step 3: Let the creations dry over night.     

Building Beans

Ingredients:

  • Large dried beans
  • Bowl of water
  • Strainer
  • Wooden toothpicks

 Directions

Step 1: Soak the beans overnight in the bowl of water.
Step 2: Strain the water off the beans.
Step 3: Stick a toothpick in one bean.
Step 4: Continue sticking beans and toothpicks together to make a structure.
Step 5: When finished, let the bean structure dry overnight.

Here are some other items that you can try:

  • Build a structure with marshmallows and toothpicks
  • Build a structure with soaked dry peas and toothpicks
  • Build a structure with fresh peas and toothpicks

Sun-catchers

Ingredients:

  • White Glue
  • Food coloring
  • Toothpicks
  • Plastic lids (Lids from tubs of yogurt, hummus, sour cream etc.)
  • Hole Punch
  • String

Directions:

Step One: Pour a generous amount of glue into one of your plastic lids and swish it around to cover the entire inner surface.

Step Two: Put one or two drops of each color of food coloring around the glue.

Step Three: Take a toothpick to swirl the colors around in the glue. Stop swirling before the colors get too combined or the final result will be muddy and brown. This is an exercise in restraint!

Step Four: Let dry. As the colors settle they will continue to expand and create a tie-dye effect. Depending on how much glue you used, the sun-catcher will take one to three days to fully dry. You will know it’s ready when the edges start to peel off the lid.

Step Five: When fully dry, peel the sun-catcher off the lid, punch a hole through the top, add a string, and hang in a sunny spot.


 

How To Handle Tragedy With Your Children

What happens when tragedy occurs?

When the unthinkable happens, both adults and children access their darkest fears and concerns about national, community and personal safety.  Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event and can be expressed in a variety of ways. Most kids are resilient and with validation of their feelings, opportunities for them to talk and be listened to, and reassurance that many people are working hard to ensure their safety (i.e. policemen, teachers, doctors, volunteers, parents and teachers) can resume previous levels of functioning. Other kids may display acute signs of anxiety such as excessive worry, school refusal, sleeplessness, nightmares, headaches, stomachaches, loss of interest in previous enjoyed activities, changes in relationships with peers and changes in school performance. It is also important to note that children may appear unhinged by trauma initially, but may demonstrate more delayed symptoms of anxiety after the exposure to the tragedy.

When managing your child’s reaction to tragedy it is imperative for the parent to understand their own thoughts and feelings regarding the event. Getting any parental concerns and anxieties under wraps will be essential prior to managing any child anxieties and concerns. Children, by nature, are dependent and vulnerable and rely on their parents to exude a sense of control, protection and care. If a parent is highly reactive to their own anxieties, children can pick up on this and in turn will mirror their parent’s anxieties. If a parent is calm and objective the child can then have a solid sense that their parent is in control of the situation and give the child permission to feel safe and cared for.

Validate and acknowledge your children’s fears and insecurities regarding the tragedy

This provides outlets and opportunities for your child to express their feelings and insecurities. Brushing over their feelings of sadness, anger, fear, and anxiety with “don’t feel this way” and  “don’t worry, it won’t ever happen to you”  can prove invalidating and deny the child the opportunity to effectively process their responses. Acknowledging your child’s fears and concerns will help them process the event and encourage them to self-express.

Limiting screen time to avoid continued media coverage regarding the event will help to reduce anxiety and re-traumatization. The most important part of dealing with trauma and tragedy is to process both you and your child’s interpretation of the event, not the actual facts and details (i.e. how many people died, who killed them, the severity of this national tragedy, how it compares to other national tragedies, etc.). Exploring with your child how they interpret the event and what they think has happened is more therapeutic than rehashing the gory details. Also, instead of initiating a conversation about what has happened to your child, ask your child what they think has gone on and work from there. Providing too much information that does not fit within their scope of understanding can prove to further confuse them and elicit anxiety.

Uncontrollable tragedies occur and have the power to threaten our perceptions about our safety and understanding of our world around us. Providing a safe space to process the feelings that our children have is the best way to acknowledge the legitimacy of their concerns and regain a sense of normalcy.



Turn a Bully Into an Ally

What is one seemingly positive characteristic of a bully?

Great leadership skills. They can gather a group of followers and move in a pack to accomplish a lot.  Most bullies use this skill for negative outcomes, but think of what good could be accomplished if we taught bullies to use this strength for good?

We need to teach bullies that great leaders have certain qualities.  Bullies can be taught that they are great leaders, and great leaders use their leadership skills for good.   The bully can be taught this by the assignment of positive leadership tasks.  For example, assign the bully to a time of day to make sure each and every kid is taken care of.  At lunch, the bully ensures each child has food and is not eating alone. If she is, charge the bully with finding a solution.  At PE, have the bully ensure each girl is picked first on a team at least once and gets to be team captain at least once.

Once the bully feels the power of leading for good, she may just become one of the best leaders and members of the class.  Make strong powered kids into true positive leaders and see more leaders and team players blossom!

For more on handling bullies, read Mean Girls and bullying Boys: How Parents Can Help, and How to Include Bullying In Your Child’s IEP.