Parents’ Roles in Creating Healthy Eaters

At some point during your young child’s life, you may face challenges that involve getting them to eat well. Often, the first challenge family eating dinnerpresents itself during the toddler years, in which children can become quite picky and more defiant. As kids are exposed to so many unhealthy foods that are specifically marketed towards kids and teens, these foods can cause excess weight gain.

When parents come to me seeking nutritional counseling for their child, we spend a lot of time discussing their role in their child’s nutrition. The reason behind this is because children learn so much about food and eating from the family. Consider the paradigm of nature vs nurture. Yes, there are certain inborn physiological predispositions children may have toward food and eating. This is the “nature” side of the paradigm; however there is also the “nurture” side, in which you influence how your children eat. Your kids have 3-5 learning experiences with you that are related to food each day (meals + snacks), beginning from infancy. Children are only able to eat and learn what foods you choose to present to them and in what manner you present food.

Below are some tips about parents’ roles in developing healthy eaters:

  1. Be the eater you want your child to be. If you want your children to eat fruits and vegetables, then you need to eat fruits Read more

The Power of Push-Ups

“It’s too cold, I get bored, I’m so out of shape,” or, my personal favorite, “I’d rather eat this slice of pizza.” These are all too familiar push-ups childutterances between my friends and I. Excuses of why-not to workout come in all shapes, sizes and extremes. Believe me, this winter, I have attempted to validate my sedentary lifestyle in order to avoid the hardships of physical exertion in the most creative and far-fetched of ways. As the cold winter weather looms over Chicago, I try to remind myself that sometimes, even the most basic of exercises can lead to big results. One such exercise is the infamous push-up. Push-ups vary in types and levels of complexity to those who complete them. They are an extremely advantageous exercise for adults and children alike.

Below is an outline of some of the most basic of push-ups:

  • Knee Push-Ups: Begin by kneeling on the floor. Walk your hands out in front of your body so that they are palms down, Read more

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month! Many children may have difficulties with one or more aspect of speech and/or language, andBHSM according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), early detection and intervention can often be the most effective.

Below are some helpful tips parents can use to promote speech and language skills at home:

  • Communicative temptation: create situations where a child needs to gesture, vocalize, or verbalize to have his or her needs met before giving desired object (e.g., puzzle pieces)
  • Imitation: having a child imitate you helps him or her to produce words and sounds at appropriate times (e.g., saying “hi” to animal toys as you take them out of the box)
  • Expanding: using a child’s language and expanding it to make it more complex (e.g., child says “ball,” adult can say, “that is your ball!”)
  • Build vocabulary: target and explain relevant new words (e.g., seasonal words ) to help build vocabulary Read more

How to Elicit the /m/ Sound in Your Child’s Speech

Every sound of speech has a place of production, manner of production and can either be voiced or voiceless sounds. Place of letter mproduction is the accurate placement of articulators. Manner of production is the restriction of airflow in the oral cavity. A voiced sound has the voice box on versus a voiceless sound when the voice box is off.  The phoneme /m/ placement of articulators is lips together, the manner is airflow through the nose or a nose sound and your voice box is on. When working with your child on how to produce the /m/ sound, you can refer to it as the humming sound.

Ways to Elicit /m/

Place of Production:

  1. Draw attention to pressing the lips together. This can be accomplished by using your child’s fingers and thumb to hold their lips together.   Read more

Nonverbal Learning Disability

The majority of learning disabilities that a child may have are language-based.  These include deficits with the child’s reading boy readingachievement as well as written expression.  Researchers have found that there is a small percentage of children that demonstrate adequate or above average verbal functioning; however, they have significant weakness with their nonverbal reasoning. Researchers and educational specialists have characterized this specific condition as a Nonverbal Learning Disability (NVLD).  Currently, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not have a specific diagnosis for these children and, instead, these children are typically diagnosed with a learning disorder that is not otherwise specified.

Areas of Cognitive Weakness in Children with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities:

  • Visual-spatial awareness
  • Visual organization
  • Tactile and perceptual reasoning
  • Psychomotor functioning
  • Nonverbal problem solving skills
  • Difficulties with mathematics
  • Pragmatic (social) language
  • Social interactions

Areas of Strength in Children with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities:

  • Rote verbal memory
  • Phonemic awareness
  • Verbal reasoning
  • Reading

It is important to identify children that have speculated NVLD’s areas of strength and weakness in order to develop the most effective intervention plan.  It is often that intervention for these children is multi-faceted and can consist of:  social work support to help with socialization and interaction, speech-language therapy to help with pragmatic language functioning, academic tutoring to help with mathematics and executive functioning support and/or occupational therapy in order to help develop visual spatial functioning, tactile-perceptual reasoning and motor abilities.

Click here to learn all about Learning Disabilities 

First Fears in Children

Fears are common during early childhood; they can last for a period of just a few days or up to a few months. Things that had never scared boybothered your child may become scary all of a sudden. As old fears are resolved, new fears may arise as your child moves through the developmental stages. Although fears may be worrisome for you, these fears represent cognitive and social emotional growth in your child. They are a typical phase of child development.

Here are a few ideas to help your child move through this phase of development:

  • Avoid or adapt to situations that frighten your child. Provide night lights and special objects, such as blankets or stuffed animals, if your child is afraid of the dark. Make a special trip to purchase a flashlight for your child so that he or she can look around the room at night to see that things are all right. This gives your child a sense of control over his or her fears.
  • Interpret your child’s fears into simple words and add a reassuring comment, such as: “That loud sound was a scary “boom”, but it won’t hurt us.”
  • Have a bedtime routine. Engage in calming, soothing activities, such as reading stories or singing songs. Do this activity every night so that your child gains a sense of comfort and consistency.
  • If your child is afraid of something specific, such as airplanes, provide activities to help him or her gain control and Read more

How to Handle Children and Fears of Thunderstorms

After a major storm when your kids have been up all night scared and crying, the worst thing to see in the morning is a flooded street girl looking out the rainy windowand basement.  Now you are cranky and tired, the kids have had it, and its time to assess the damage.

Why are kids frightened of thunderstorms and what can you do about it?

Well, loud, booming noises waking a child up in the night is not something he or she is used to and can be anxiety provoking (as it is for many adults).  Kids also may associate storms to bad things because in movies and tv shows, negative and scary scenes are often depicted with storms.

5 Tips To Help Calm Children During Storms:

  1. Stay calm.  If you show anxiety or fear, your children will pick up on it and feel the same way.  If you stay calm your children will also feel more calm.
  2. Make it NOT a big deal.  Tell them it’s just a storm and they must go back to sleep.
  3. Give relaxing options.  If your child truly can’t fall asleep because of constant banging thunder, tell him/her to read in bed.  Many times he/she will fall back asleep.
  4. Make plans. If there is school the next day, try to keep your normal schedule, get them to school and then deal with the damage.  Don’t let your younger children see you stress about the damage as it can cause future anxiety for him/her.
  5. Make it an adventure.  Be prepared with flashlights and anything else you need before the storm.  Then, make it exciting for your children.  Build forts, bake cupcakes and have fun!  Soon your child will start associating storms with happy memories instead of scary ones!

 Click here to learn more about Childhood Anxiety Disorders!

Strategies to Boost you Child’s Memory

There are two general types of memory strategies: Internal strategies refer to ways to retrieve information more easily by thinking child memoryabout something in a different way, whereas external strategies refer to ways to compensate utilizing mechanisms outside of your brain to help you remember information. Depending upon the situation, one strategy may be more beneficial than the other.

Try the following strategies with your child to encourage retrieving and storing memories:

Internal Strategies:

  1. Repetition: repeat information aloud or in your head
  2. Visualization: create a mental image of what you are trying to remember
  3. Association: link information to prior life experiences
  4. Chunking/Grouping: link similar items together by category. For example, link items on a grocery list by departments located in the store
  5. Acronyms: create a word or phrase comprised of the first letter of all the letters to be remembered. For example, “ROYGBIV” represents the order of the colors in a rainbow

External Strategies:

  1. Daily planner/Calendars
  2. Organization: keep important objects (e.g. backpacks, school supplies, technology) in the same location
  3. Stick with a schedule: encourage memory by completing routine activities in the same order every day
  4. Alarm clocks
  5. Voice memos
  6. Highlighters/colored pens

What to Do When Your Child Throws a Tantrum in Public

Trying to deal with a child that is throwing a tantrum is never easy, but when this fits are occurring outside of the privacy of your own tantrum in publichome, these tantrums may create a completely new level of anxiety. In fact, some parents are so nervous that they will not be able to handle their child during a tantrum that they fear going out in public with their child altogether. They may worry about negative attention from strangers as well as being judged on how well they are parenting.

Dealing with tantrums are never easy; below are some helpful tips on what to do when your child throws tantrums in public to make it easier for you:

  • Keep Calm.  You need to remain in control. If you begin to become stressed and scream or yell, then the situation will only escalate. For example, calmly discuss with your child about why they cannot have a certain item and move away from that area. Try to redirect the conversation and talk about something else in order to help your child lose focus on what he/she wants. Do not panic and feel that everyone is staring at you. Tantrums are regular behaviors of children and do not usually phase most people;  however, more people will begin to stare if your reaction is just as loud as your child’s tantrum.
  • Never See Them Again.  Remember that the people you see in the store will most likely not be seen again. You should not worry about what others are thinking as they are not as concerned with the situation as you are imagining and it will easily be forgotten. Most people understand as they have experienced similar situations. They have their own matters to worry about and focus on.
  • Consistency. Make sure that you are consistent in how you are addressing your child’s tantrums. If a tantrum at home would typically result in a timeout, then continue to use the same Read more

When is Stuttering Normal?

Stuttering or non-fluent speech productions are quite common to hear during speech and language development in children when stuttering childthey are between the ages of two and six. At this time, the amount of new language that children are taking in is so vast that several theories suggest that it overwhelms the body’s speaking mechanism and, consequently, the child exhibits “stuttering”.

Stuttering may take many forms. The most common stuttering is full- and part-word repetitions (ex: “Can-can-can I go?” or “Ca-ca-candy for me”). Less common errors include prolongations (“ssssssssssounds like this”) or silent blocks in which sound is not released and tension in the face/neck may be present.

The facts are as follows: 50% of stuttering toddlers will spontaneously catch-up with their peers without therapy. Many more children than that will make a complete recovery into fluency. A small percentage of these children may continue to stutter throughout their entire life.

In order to determine if your child requires a speech-language evaluation for stuttering, here are some red flags that indicate an “at-risk” child:

  • Any family history of speech/language/fluency disorders Read more