Tag Archive for: routines

Teaching A Child Ownership of Their Home Routine

Routines are an important part of everyone’s daily life, but they are especially important for children. Routines allow a child to have a sense of control over their environment and learn responsibility. Routines can help improve regulation, transitions, and decrease stress and anxiety surrounded by change and uncertainty. Blog-Home-Routine-Main-Landscape

Children learn to become emotionally ready for what is to come next when a routine is established. Routines allow for a child to learn in comfortable and safe boundaries and gain satisfaction and confidence in learning these routines independently. But with today’s busy lifestyle, family routines are changing on a daily basis which can impact the child’s ability to become independent and successful with their home routine.

Below are some tips to help improve your child’s confidence and success in their home routine:

Create a visual schedule

Depending on your child’s age, you can use pictures or written words to outline your home routine. Break the routine down in to easy steps for your child to follow. You can also have your child check off each step once completed to give your child a sense of accomplishment. This also allows your child to visually see their success, which will help provide motivation.

Be consistent

This is key! Don’t give up after a few failed attempts. Your child needs to know what to do at what time of day in order to learn the routine and become successful independently.

Be positive and provide rewards

Do not reprimand your child. This will increase the chances that your child will lose motivation and not complete their routine. Mistakes and bad behavior will occur, but reinforce only the positive things they do throughout completing the routine. As they become more confident and successful in their routine, you can begin to fade out the rewards.

Model the routine

Show your child the correct way to do each step of the routine and assist them if need be. Many children are visual learners and will learn by doing. With practice, they will become more independent in each step.

Provide choice within the routine

Allow your child to choose parts of the routine. For example, which shampoo or toothpaste they want to use. This will give your child a sense of control during the routine and motivate them to complete the tasks given.

Prepare the night before

Pack backpacks, lay out clothes, make lunches, etc. Involve your child in the preparation and tell your child what is expected of them the next day so they can begin to mentally prepare.

Build in extra time

When first learning to complete routines independently, your child may require additional time to get through the routine. As we all know, practice makes perfect, so make sure you plan enough time to allow for mistakes.

If your child has difficulty with completing their home routines successfully and independently, seek guidance of an occupational therapist.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!


10 Keys to Positive Parenting

Positive parenting, sometimes called positive discipline, gentle guidance, or loving guidance, is simply guidance that keeps kids on the right path. The goals of positive parenting are to raise children who want to behave appropriately, and to raise children who turn into well-adjusted, productive adults. Listed are 10 keys to positive parenting that are easy to follow and incorporate into your family life.

10 Steps to Positive Parenting:

  1. Promote problem solving skills – If your child is faced with a problem, allow them to come up10 Keys to Positive Parenting with solutions to the problem before jumping in to help them.
  2. Say “no” sometimes – It is important for children to learn they can’t always get everything they want, and to be able to wait and/or earn desired items.
  3. Create a daily routine – Children respond very well to structure and routine. Daily routines can make things like getting ready in the morning, dinner, and bedtime a smoother process for everyone.
  4. Be a good role-model – If your kids see you responding by yelling or raising your voice everything something goes wrong, they are most likely going to start responding the same way. Kids often model the behaviors of their parents, so remaining calm in times of crisis will help your children learn do the same.
  5. Avoid spanking or other physical discipline – This can lead to your child being fearful of you and/or teach them that being physical with other is an appropriate response. There are many alternative consequences for negative behaviors other than physical discipline. If your current consequence is not decreasing the behavior, then keep trying different ones until you find a consequence that works.
  6. Be consistent with consequences If you punish a negative behavior one time, but not the next time, that negative behavior is going never go away. Being inconsistent can cause confusion in your child and they will not know what is expected of them. Also, make sure all family members are on the same page and addressing all behaviors in the same way.
  7. Provide natural consequences – This will help your child learn that their behavior can have both positive and negative consequences. If they break a toy, don’t run out and buy them another one. Doing this will teach your child there are no consequences for their behavior. Conversely if they get all A’s on their report card you want to provide some type of reward and praise.
  8. Reward and praise behaviors that you want to see again in the future – For example, if your child cleaned their room the first time you ask, reward that behavior instead of letting it go unnoticed. Rewarding and praising appropriate behaviors will increase the likelihood of these behaviors occurring again.
  9. Follow through – If you ask you child to do something, make sure they do it. If you ask and then never follow through, your child will learn they don’t need to listen to you. Even when your cries or gets upset, it is very important to remain firm and ensure they follow through with what you asked them to do.
  10. Give your child freedom to make their own mistakes and learn from them – It is natural to want to protect your child and prevent them from making mistakes, however it is important for children to learn from their mistakes and take steps to prevent those same mistakes from occurring in the future.

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Reference: http://www.positive-parents.org/2011/06/positive-parenting-what-why-how_15.html


5 Tips for a Successful Summer Break

5 Tips for a Successful Summer Break

With summer right around the corner, now is the time to set your family up for success when the school doors close. Planning ahead can reduce stress, align expectations, and make sure that everyone’s needs are met so that summer can be pleasurable for all involved.

Here are 5 tips for a successful summer break:

  1. Gain knowledge of expectations. Set up a family meeting to determine what everyone’s5 Tips for a Successful Summer Break expectations are. To plan ahead can alleviate stress and frustration, but it is essential to make sure that everyone is on board with the summer structure. Have each child identify individual wants and needs. If the child is scheduled for day camp and that is not something that they “want to do” have them also come up with alternative ideas that would make their summer fun (i.e. going to Six Flags, going to the beach, etc.). Also, if the child views day camp as non-preferred, the parent can then share positives about going to camp (i.e. getting to swim, play with friends, engage in sports) to challenge previous negative thinking and facilitate smoother, morning time transitions.
  2. Establish Routines. Arrange for everyone to come together to determine daily structure in the home so that there are no surprises. Calling a family meeting can be helpful to debunk the child’s “lax” expectations for summer vacation and reinstate a more appropriate daily system. If the child wishes to do art all day, or swim, or sleep, the parent can work to structure these unstructured activities to create routine and clear boundaries.
  3. Research activities as a family. Allow your child to collaborate on what activities sound like fun for the family to engage in. Asking for your child’s ideas about weekend plans can help them feel empowered and demonstrate the art of compromise.
  4. Get outside. Summer presents a great opportunity to maximize play-based skills and physical activity. Encourage your child to be outside at least an hour a day to boost their mood, release energy, and provide alternative means for parent-child bonding.
  5. Maintain academic skills. Although summer is a fun time to engage in a plethora of recreational activities, it can also include some reality-based activities. When a child is out of school for several months, it is important that some academic tasks happen regularly to reduce risk for losing skills and to maintain gains. Identify a variety of subjects or tasks for the child to pick from and determine a set frequency of engaging in this activity (i.e. math workbook, reading, writing tasks, etc.).


NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Separation anxiety

Separation Anxiety: Why It Happens and How it Can Be Resolved

Separation Anxiety in early childhood is a normal developmental stage. During infancy, children are becoming familiar with their parents and their home environment. They become comfortable with their caregivers and learn what to expect from them. Around 8-14 months children start becoming uncomfortable and fearful around situations and people that are unfamiliar. Separation from their parents during this stage of development can make children feel threatened and unsafe. During times ofseparation-anxiety separation children may express distress. They may cling to you, cry, and refuse to separate from you. These feelings typically subside around 2 years of age. At this time children have learned that their parents will return later. To help children to move through this stage successfully, children need to learn to feel safe in their environment, trust people other than their caregivers and trust that their caregivers will return. Separation anxiety can return during periods of stress, including the loss of a loved one or a loved pet, changing classrooms or changing schools, or moving to a new home.

Despite the trust gained and maintained in first stages of development, entering into the preschool setting may be the first time trust is being tested outside the safe and secure home environment. The child may feel uncertain if and how their needs will be met as they explore this uncharted territory.

Ways to deal with separation anxiety:

  • Establish consistent routines
  • Practice separation
  • Develop a goodbye ritual
  • Work with the school and the teacher to make transitions successful
  • Use transitional objects (pictures of you, something special that reminds your child of you, a favorite blanket or a favorite toy)
  • Do not prolong the time you spend leaving your child
  • Do not sneak away from your child
  • Check in with how you are feeling. Your child will pick up on your ambivalence and anxiety.

When to be concerned about and seek mental health support for separation anxiety:

  • When the fear/anxiety does not go away or your child is over 6 years old
  • Your child exhibits extreme distress when separated from you
  • Your children exhibits reluctance to go to school or other places due to fear of being separated from you
  • Reluctance or refusal to go to sleep without you or another primary caregiver close by

Click here to watch a Pediatric TV Episode on Separation Anxiety in children.

Anxiety Disorders

NSPT offers occupational therapy services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

teens and transitions how to help your child

Teens And The Transition To Adulthood: How To Support Your Child

If you have a teenager at home, then you know how exciting of a time adolescence can be. With the excitement, however, brings a variety of challenges. As boys and girls begin their journey of becoming young men and women, parents are faced with having to constantly respond to the changing needs of their sons and daughters. Parents of teenagers will often notice that their relationship seems to change with their child during these years. While young teenagers are eager to separate from their parents and make their own choices, parents feel the pull to ensure that their teens are making choices that will be beneficial for their future. How do you support your teen as he/she transitions to adulthood?

We know that adolescence is a time of change. Physical, psychological, and social changes can create some real discomfort for a young teenager. Although it is no simple task, parents can do a great deal to support their young ones through these changes. The following are some tips for parenting your adolescent child.

How to Support Your Teen as He/She Transitions to Adulthood:

  • Encourage your son or daughter to speak to you about the changes he/she notices including the desire toteens and transitions how to help your child be more independent.
  • Allow your child to make mistakes so long as safety and long-term future are not at risk. Talk to your teenager about the consequences of his or her choices in an empathic and understanding way.
  • Set clear and firm limits but allow for your teenager to have choices when possible; children of all ages need to have some say. Parents should collaborate with their children to set parameters and still allow for some “supervised” autonomy.
  • Help your child develop routines and structure to stay organized, especially when it comes to school. Teenagers are continuing to develop executive functioning skills and need your support to create and maintain solid systems for balancing home, school, and social life.
  • Be comfortable asking for help. If your teenager’s transition into and through adolescence seems especially difficult, be assured there is help available. Working with a social worker or other mental health professionals can provide you with support that is specific to you and your child’s situation.


Making School Day Routines Easier with a Schedule

With school in session, it is important to solidify those morning, after school, and nighttime routines.  Using schedules provides predictability, encourages independence, and aids in transitions with your child.

Mother and daughter planning a schedule

Here are some quick tips to help make morning and nighttime routines easier with a schedule:

Types of Schedules:

A schedule can be created for any routine, such as bathroom, dressing, leaving for school, or after school routines.  For example, “Eat breakfast, brush teeth, and grab backpack” can be used for a morning routine, or “Eat snack, do homework, have 20 minutes of free time” could be used for an after school routine.

Location of the schedule:

Schedules should be placed where they are most accessible to your child.  If you are trying to promote independence while dressing, place a schedule on your child’s closet or dresser.  Bathroom schedules can be placed on a mirror, and morning/after school schedules can be placed on the refrigerator or door.

Using Pictures:

Pictures are great visuals for younger children or children who have difficulty understanding spoken language. Pictures can be drawn on a dry erase board or mirror, found on a computer (i.e., Google images), or cut out from a magazine.

Including your child:

Encouraging your child to help create his or her own schedule will increase comprehension and motivation for the responsibilities.  It is important to complete schedules before the routine begins.  For example, morning and after school schedules should be completed the night before.  Night schedules could be completed before dinner.  Your child should manipulate his or her schedule by moving pictures from the “to do” to the “all done” pile, or crossing off written tasks.


Having some flexibility with your child’s schedule is okay, as long as the schedule is set before the routine begins and the arranged schedule is followed.  Rearranging the sequence of tasks, giving your child choices, and introducing new activities allow for flexibility within schedules.

Setting routines and implementing schedules should help make life a little easier.  If you have any suggestions that make your morning, afternoon, and nighttime routines easier, please share them below.

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3 Tips For A Bed Time Routine | Pediatric Therapy TV

In today’s webisode, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst gives viewers 3 practical tips on how to get your child into a bed-time routine.    Read this blog for more bed-time routine tips:

In This Video You Will Learn:

  • What type of bed-time schedule to create
  • Why consistency matter when starting a bed-time routine
  • At what time to start your bed-time routine with your child

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 Ackerman: Hello and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I am your host, Robyn Ackerman, and today I’m standing with a behavior analyst, Katie Sadowski. Katie, can you please give our viewers three tips to getting a child into a bedtime routine? Katie Sadowski: Yes. In regards to getting your child into a bedtime routine, that is something that can be tricky. One thing that is very helpful is creating a schedule. With this schedule, it should be a visual schedule so that the child can see the different pictures. You want to incorporate the different things that need to be done in the bedtime routine. If the child is age appropriate, he should definitely be involved with helping create this schedule. Some things that should be in a bedtime routine schedule would be things like taking a bath, putting on your pajamas, brushing your teeth, getting a drink of water, picking a friend to go to bed with so his favorite teddy bear or maybe just a favorite doll, any kind of stuffed animal that your child likes, as well as reading a book, and then saying goodnight. With this schedule, you want to make sure that any of the activities you use, they are calming. You don’t want to be having activities that would get your child very energetic and hyper. That would defeat the purpose. Also when you are using the schedule, you want to make sure that you pick a time and stick with that time. In regards to the time, you would want to start the schedule about an hour before so that the child is actually done with the schedule and sleeping when you do want him in bed. So, for example, if you want your child sleeping at 7:00, you would start the schedule at about 6:00. Also, with the schedule, it’s very helpful if you can make it to where the kid can put a sticker or a checkmark after he completes each activity. That way, he can see the different steps that he’s completing and how that accomplishments. And one more thing that, at the end, after your story and you say your goodnights, you do then want to go ahead and let your child know that you are going to come back and check on them to make sure they’re sleeping. You don’t want to let your child think, well, mom and dad are gone, so now I can go play or I can sit up and do what I want. Give them that warning that you will be back, and if you do come back and they are up, just say, “Okay, goodnight. I’ll be back a little later.” And that’s something that can definitely help get your child in a routine. Robyn; All right. Thank you so much, Katie. Katie: You’re welcome. Robyn: And thank you to our viewers, and remember, keep on blossoming. Announncer; 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.

Transition Trouble | How Family Routines and Rituals Can Help

If your child experiences difficulty with transitions, changes or any activity requiring flexibility, you may be wondering what’s making it so hard.

Your child may be hypersensitive to changes in routines or unexpected events for a variety of reasons. Some possibilities include poor organization orplanning skills, sensory issues, developmental delays, inadequate coping mechanisms, maladjustment or an anxiety disorder. If your child also exhibits any of the following symptoms, it could be anxiety that is causing all the commotion:

Symptoms of Transition Caused Anxiety:

• Negative, rigid, perfectionistic or unrealistic thinking patterns

• Irritability, tantrums, anger or aggression

• Constant worry about what might happen

• Avoiding new or unfamiliar people, places or activities

• Excessive clinginess or withdrawal from activities and socialinteractions

• Interruption in sleeping or eating habits

• Psychosomatic complaints such as stomach aches, headaches and fatigue

All children and adults experience anxiety at a natural level, and it’s considered normal until it negatively impacts a child’s functioning at school, home or with friends. If your child is overly anxious for what is expected at their age, it is likely interfering with family life. Adding routine and structure into your home, wherever the opportunity lies, will surely help an anxious child be more successful across his environments. Read more

Creating a Bedtime Routine for Your Child

Do you find yourself struggling with your child when bedtime approaches? If so, here are some tips for establishing a reliable bedtime routine:


Family BedtimeEssentially, a child’s evening schedule needs to be simple yet flexible so that in the even of a disruption, the basic routine can still be preserved. You could try something like this:


6:00 pm Dinner: Rather than indulging in caffeinated and sugary foods, encourage meals high in complex carbohydrates with a small amount of protein. Fruits such as apples, pears and bananas are always a favorite, while whole grain crackers, bread, and dairy- or soy-based products also help to promote great sleep. Read more