Halloween For Dog Families

Guest Blog From Bark Busters!

Halloween brings a fun time for most of us, but for some of our much-loved four-legged family members, Halloween can be a nightmare. Dog owners  may not be able to control external surroundings, but they can care for their dog’s safety and well-being by observing the following tips from Bark Busters Home Dog Training, the world’s largest dog training company:Dog Training Chilcago

Don’t leave your dog outside. Even if you have a fenced yard, bring your dog inside where it is safe. Your dog may be used to strangers, but so many little ghouls and goblins running about may be too much. Remember also that it is a natural instinct for dogs to protect the family from strangers, and on Halloween there will be no shortage of strangers.

Keep your dog restrained. If your dog is timid or scared, or if he tends to love people a little too much, it is best to put him in a separate room away from the front door to limit his excitability, aggression, and chance of running outside and becoming lost.

Reassure your dog. The best thing you can do for your dog when he is feeling unsettled by Halloween activities is to act as you normally would around your dog. By over-reassuring your dog or giving him an unusual amount of attention, you inadvertently can communicate to him that there must be something to worry about.

Have your dog get used to costumes. Your dog may see his family members as strangers once they don their Halloween costumes. Before the kids put them on, allow your dog to scent the costumes and keep masks off while your dog is around.

Check your dog’s ID tag. Be sure identification tags are secure on your dog’s collar-just in case.

Keep candy away from your dog. Many candies-especially chocolate-are toxic to dogs, resulting from a mild upset tummy to vomiting and diarrhea, or even death. If you want to keep your dog safe, make certain that sweets, including their wrappers, are kept well away from your dog.

Protect dogs from candles and pumpkins. Excited or agitated dogs can easily knock over a lit candle or pumpkin. Be sure those items are away from your dog’s reach, or consider a battery-powered candle that does not burn.

Think twice about dressing your dog in a costume. While some dogs might enjoy being dressed up, many don’t. Experiment first to see if your dog likes being in a costume. If he shows any resistance, don’t do it.

Be prepared. If you take your dog with you while trick-or-treating, be prepared at all times. Do not let your dog approach the door of a house, and stay clear of possible witches or goblins that may pop out. Neither children nor adults in costumes should approach a dog without the owner’s consent.

Have fun but think of your dog’s safety.

Finally, if you want your dog to be included in Halloween festivities, think about his safety as much as you would the safety of a small child.

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Marlene Marks  is a dog behavioral therapist and trainer with Bark Busters, the world’s largest dog training company. For more details, call 1-877-500-BARK (2275) or visit www.BarkBusters.com to find a dog trainer in your area. 

Helping Your Child Deal with Losing A Game

One of the most common challenges I see when working with kids, is difficulty with losing.  Many rounds of Candlyland have ended in tears and scattered game pieces.  For kids, losing can feel unexpected and extremely frustrating.  However, it’s important to learn to handle losing (and winning) in order to successfully navigate friendships.  So how can we help children learn to lose (and win) well from early on?  If you’ve ever found yourself wiping tears after a game, or rigging Candyland to avoid your child’s loss, then read on.  Here are 10 strategies to help your child better navigate winning and losing.

10 Ways To Help Your Child Handle With Losing:

  1. Prepare ahead-of time.  It can feel frustrating and unexpected for kids to lose a game.  Prepare your child ahead of time by introducing concepts of winning and losing, as well as how to respond.  For example: sore loser in a game“Sometimes we win, and sometimes our friends win.  It’s okay when our friends win!  Games are just for fun!”
  2. Redefine winningTalk to your child about what matters most.  Even though it’s fun to win, what matters most is sportsmanship, playing by the rules and being a good friend.  By prioritizing sportsmanship over winning, you can help your child feel accomplished for playing the game well, even if they didn’t win.
  3. Praise what is going well.  If we want our kids to value sportsmanship, then give them positive praise and affirmation for good behaviors.  Talk about what is going well during or after a game.  Use clear and descriptive feedback (e.g. “Wow! You said ‘congratulations!’ That was such a friendly thing to say to your friend.”) .
  4. Learn to win gracefullyRehearse appropriate phrases to use when your child wins.  For example, “Good game! That was so fun to play together!”.  Give your child clear feedback about how their words might make others feel.  For example: “Uh oh, I think your friend felt sad when you said ‘I won and you lost!’ What’s something friendly you could say instead?”
  5. Learn to lose gracefully.  Rehearse appropriate phrases to use when your child loses.  For example, “Congratulations!” or “Great game!”.  Give your child clear feedback about how their responses might make their friends feel.  For example, “Uh oh, when you ran away, your friends felt sad. It’s not fun to play when you run away from the game.”
  6. Talk about itIf you notice your child is beginning to escalate, reintroduce some of the concepts you discussed earlier (e.g. “Sometimes we win, and sometimes our friends win. It’s okay when our friends win. Games are just for fun!”).  Use a calm and positive tone to show your child that everything is okay.   If needed, take some time out to regroup and calm down.
  7. Practice, practice, practice. The best way to learn is by doing, so practice playing games with your child.  You might start by playing a game one-on-one, and rehearsing appropriate phrases to say to others (e.g. “Good try!” or “Great job!”).  Start with a simple game that’s not overly complicated, so your child can focus more on sportsmanship and less on game strategy.  Next, you might practice games during a play-date with a few friends.
  8. Set a good example. Children learn by watching and imitating, so set the tone by modeling good sportsmanship.  This isn’t just limited to playing board-games, but also includes how you respond to other moments throughout your day (e.g. handling traffic, when your favorite team looses, etc.).
  9. Encourage self-reflecting.  Encourage your child to think about their behavior after a game.  What went well?  What can we work on next time?  Incorporate lots positive feedback for things that were successful (“Wow, I like the way you let your friend go first!”), as well as constructive ideas for what to do better next time.
  10. Finally, try again. Learning takes time and practice.  If your child has a bad day, or a game ends in a meltdown, don’t be afraid to try again the next time you play together.  Your child may try to avoid a particular game that they’ve previously lost.  Use a positive tone, and encouragement them to try again.

How To Improve Handwriting in Children Part 1 | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In part 1 of 2, a Pediatric Occupational Therapist shows all the ways to prepare a child for optimum handwriting skills.

In This Video You Will Learn:

  • How to wake up a child’s hands prior to writing
  • How to slow a child’s hands down
  • Which materials are best for a child’s handwriting

Video Transcription:

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

Robyn: Hello and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I am your host, Robyn Ackerman. Today I am standing with occupational therapist Deborah Michael. Deborah is going to show us how to work with a child on handwriting.

Deborah: The first thing that we’re going to do is wake up your hands. Before we start writing, we have to wake up your hands because they could be sleepy and tired. Go ahead and put that Theraputty on the table. This is called Theraputty, Levi. What does it feel like?

Levi: Gooey.

Deborah: Gooey and hard. It exercises your fingers. Go ahead and make holes in there and wake those fingers up. Roll it like a snake. Do all kinds of stuff with it. This comes in all different kinds of hardness. You can get it a little softer, a little harder, depending on how old you are and how strong you are. That’s how we wake up your fingers.

You can wake up your fingers with Theraputty, you can do some pushups, you can do some moving around of your hands, you can do some pegs on the peg board. You can do all kinds of stuff to wake up your hands.

Now that your hands are awake, we are going to start to write. Now how does your engine feel? How does your body feel right now, Levi? Does it feel just right, fast, slow? A little bit fast, right?

Levi: Yeah.

Deborah: There are a couple of things that you like to do when your engine is fast in order to be able to sit down and write. One thing we can do is we have this weighted, heavy blanket. We can put this on you and it will give you a little weight to hold you down. We also have a vest that we could use for that.

Another thing we could do if you don’t want the vest, and we can only use these for 20 minutes, once you’re done with that, we can put you on a ball or another kind of ball that’s called a peanut. That is so that you’re constantly moving around a little bit, and kids can sit still better. Right? You’ve used these before? All right. We’re just going to leave that right next to you.

Now we are going to write. Levi, you write very fast and a little bit messy because your engine is going so fast. We already tried to slow you down a little bit. Some other ways that we try to slow you down could be, first of all, using a timer so that you have to write until the timer stops so that you don’t write too fast. Correct?

Levi: Yeah.

Deborah: And then we have pencils that have weights on them so they slow you down a little bit. These are fidget pencils. This is more for when you’re just waiting after you’re done writing the sentence so that you don’t have to sit doing nothing. It’s something to do and it doesn’t come off. And we have paper that has lines on it to keep you in the lines. So you have to stay between the two red lines, right?

Robyn: Thank you, Deborah, and thank you to our viewers. And remember, keep on blossoming.

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

Language Fun with Halloween

Halloween is a super fun holiday! There are so many great ways to use Halloween to build your child’s language skills. Here are a few ideas:

“Categories and Sorting” to Boost Language

After your child goes trick or treating, have them sort their candy into different categories. They could sort candy by type (chocolate vs. gummies), size, shape, color or taste.Boy in Costume Sorting Candy

“Describing” To Boost Language

Picking out the perfect Halloween costume is always fun! When talking about costumes, have your child describe what it is that they’d like to be this year. Have them talk about costume colors, accessories, emotions/feelings associated with the character, etc. Or when you’re at the store, play a guessing game. “Guess who I am thinking about…I wear a pointy hat, fly on a broomstick and can be a little scary!”

“Following Directions” To Boost Language

There are lots and lots of Halloween art projects and craft ideas. Take any project and turn it into a following directions activity. Depending on what level your child is at, you can have him/her follow 1 or 2 step directions. It could be as simple as a drawing activity. Start with a haunted house picture. Tell your child, “draw a pumpkin next to the door” or “Put a scary ghost in one of the top windows.”

Vocabulary

Halloween is a great time to work on different vocabulary words. You can work on synonyms or antonyms, definitions, grammar or even salient features. For example, take the word “spooky.”

You can ask the following questions:

  • What does spooky mean?
  • What is the opposite of spooky? What is another word for spooky?
  • Tell me something that is spooky – once they give you an object, have them tell you more about the object. For example, let’s say they say “witch.”   Then have him/her tell you what a witch has, where you find a witch, what does a witch do, etc (these are all salient features).

Reading Comprehension

There are many thematic books for Halloween. Find a book that is appropriate for your child’s reading level and work on reading comprehension skills. Ask wh- questions (i.e. who, what, where, why, why) while reading the book. You can ask text-based questions (questions that stem directly from what you read) or critical thinking questions (questions that will stimulate your child’s thought process). For example, if you’re reading about a scary character, you could ask “What makes you scared?” or “What do you do when you’re scared?”

For a list of great Halloween Books, click here.  You can read summaries and even take a look at the first few pages of the books.

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Teaching Children To Follow Directions

Here are some easy tips to help your child follow directions:

Yes and No Directions Simplify instructions:

  • Use short, simple phrases, with episodes of repetition when necessary.
  • When possible, break down multi-step instructions into distinct component parts. Say “sit down, put shoes on” rather than “Go to the table, sit down, and put your shoes on.”
  • Be specific “please put your socks in the hamper” rather than “clean up your room.”
  • Phrase directions as a statement rather than as a question (i.e. “please put the book on the shelf” rather than “will you put the book on the shelf?”)

 Check for understanding:

  • After hearing instructions, encourage your child to repeat them back to you.

Using pictures and schedules:

  • Implement pictures to provide visual representation and establish routine. For example, use sequential pictures to show the sequencing of washing hands or brushing teeth.  These can be placed on the mirror in the bathroom.
  • Use daily or task specific picture schedules to provide visual representation of language, assist in transitions, and establish routines.

 Multi-step instructions:

  • Apply a “first, then” model (i.e., first work, then play).
  • Pair related instructions together (i.e., Get your shoes, then put your shoes on).  As consistency and accuracy of following related multi-step directions increases, begin to incorporate unrelated directions (i.e., Take off your shoes, then sit at the table).

 Use positive rather than negatives:

  • Phrase directions positively and tell your child what you want him/her to do rather than what you want him/her not to do. For example, say “please walk” rather than “don’t run.” The same specific and descriptive language should be used when praising. For example, instead of saying “You are being helpful, ” it would be better to say exactly what you want/like about his/her behavior, such as “thank you for taking out the garbage without us having to remind you.”

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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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Tantrum Tips

Board Certified Behavior Analyst gives our viewers a better understanding of childhood tantrums and how to deal with them!

“Can you check under my bed for monsters?”: DOs and DON’Ts to Help Children Who are Afraid of the Dark

Teeth brushed? Check. Pajamas on? Check. Story read? Check. Tucked in? Check. Search the closets for monsters? Should you or shouldn’t you? Manychild scared in bed children are afraid of the dark, and these fears becomes especially present during bedtime, when they are alone with their thoughts of monsters, ghosts, or other scary creatures that lurk in the dark. Children may also have difficulties differentiating between fantasy and reality, especially if they hear scary stories at school or see monsters on television. Implementing a consistent bedtime routine takes time and energy, and when children are afraid of the dark, this routine can become stressful for everyone involved. As parents, listening to your children’s fears and empathizing with them, creating appropriate accommodations, and empowering your children are ways to help them with their fears.

Do’s and Don’ts to Help Children Who Are Scared of the Dark:

Listen, normalize, and empathize 

DO: Listen to your children’s concerns with an open, warm, nonjudgmental stance. They will be more likely to share their fears with you if they feel supported. Express curiosity about your children’s fears to gain an understanding of where their fears may have come from. This can help you reassure your children. For example, if they saw a show on television that had scary monsters, you can explain that television is pretend and different from real life.

DO: Help your children feel accepted by explaining that everyone has fears, even adults! Reassure your children by explaining that even though people feel afraid sometimes, they can overcome their fears. Children may feel embarrassed or hopeless about their fears; knowing that everyone has fears and that there are steps they can take to overcome them can help children feel reassured and hopeful.

DO: Empathize with your children’s concerns even if their fears are irrational. Let your children know that it is okay to feel scared.

DON’T: Minimize your children’s fears. Saying “You have nothing to be afraid of” or “That is silly! There are no such things as monsters!” can make your children feel embarrassed. Minimizing your children’s fears can also stop them from opening up to you in the future.

DON’T: Reinforce your children’s fears. Checking for ghosts or monsters, for example, shows children that you think they exist too, which can exacerbate their concerns. Instead, check for items that do exist. For example, open a closet and say, “Look! There are clothes and shoes in here, just like in the day” rather than “There are no monsters!”

Create appropriate accommodations

DO: Help your children feel safe at night. Problem solve with them to see what they think will help them feel safe. This process can also help them feel in control and brave. Asking, “What do you think you can do to feel safe at night?” is a great place to start. Appropriate accommodations include listening to a favorite bedtime story, sleeping with a special blanket or stuffed animal, and using a nightlight.

DO: Add these accommodations to your children’s bedtime routines in a consistent way. If children know they can expect a goodnight kiss, a special stuffed animal, and a nightlight every night, they can feel safe and comfortable.

DON’T: Allow your children to sleep in your bed. As tempting as this may be and as much as your children may want to sleep in your bed, showing your children that they can feel safe and sleep in their own beds is very important. Letting your children sleep in your bed can send the message that their fears are legitimate and can, in turn, reinforce and maintain their fears.

Expose and Empower

DON’T: Pressure your children into exposure they are not ready for. Facing their fears without a plan or comfort can make children feel even more afraid.

DO: Help your children overcome their fears by gently exposing them to the dark in a fun way. For example, you can play games in the dark, such as flashlight tag, so your children can associate the dark with an enjoyable game.

DO: Give praise when your children are able to sleep in the dark through the night. In the morning, you can say, “I’m so proud of you! Even though you were scared, you slept by yourself in the dark all night! I know you can do it again tonight.” You can also offer praise at night, by saying, “I like how you are trying to be brave and sleep in your bed. I know you can do it!”

What have you tried to help your children who are afraid of the dark? What has worked? What has not worked? Please share with us!

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New Guidelines for ADHD Diagnosis

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmetnal disorders.  Current data suggest that the prevalence rates in school age children is between eight to ten percent.  This is a disorder which is characterized by significant inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity.

New Guidelines For an ADHD Diagnosis:

ADHD is a buzz topic that has been highly discussed in the media this past week (here in the Chicago Tribune and in The Wall Street Journal).

The American Academy of Pediatrics published new guidelines regardinboy with adhdg the initial diagnosis of the condition. According to these new guidelines, children can now be officially diagnosed with the disorder when they are as young as four years old.  Prior to these new guidelines (which were just published this month) a child was unable to be diagnosed with the condition under he or she was six years old.

What benefit does an early diagnosis pose?  Quite a bit of benefit for families who have a child with the condition.  These children are now able to receive accommodations and interventions within the home and school domains to ensure social and academic success.

There have been plenty of past policy statements that document the best practice for treating ADHD.  Now these young children will be able to receive treatments that they might otherwise have been missing out on.  The American Academy of Pediatrics published a best practice paper for the intervention of ADHD in 2001.  In a nutshell, the paper states that the two primary interventions for ADHD include the use of stimulant medication and behavioral therapy.  Donna Palumbo, a neuropsychologist from New York, wrote a chapter in a pediatric neuropsychology textbook in 2007 “Pediatric Neuropsychological Intervention“, that updated the AAP practice guidelines to include parent training and social skills training in addition to the already mentioned stimulant medication and behavior therapy.

What are your thoughts on children getting diagnosed as young as 4 years old for ADHD?

To learn more on ADHD- sign up for a Free ADHD 101 Webinar by clicking here!

Building Your Child’s Speech & Language Skills During Halloween

As a speech-language pathologist, I love holidays for the language-rich opportunities they provide.  For starters, my kids reliably arrive to therapy sessions bursting with things to talk about, from Halloween costumes to anticipated candy.  And research supports that children learn best when they’re motivated and excited.  By incorporating speech-language goals into holiday activities, you can encourage your child’s development in a fun and engaging context.  Enjoy these 5 fun ways to build speech and language skills during Halloween fun.

5 Halloween Activities to Practice Speech & Language

1. Read a book about Halloween.  Choose an age-appropriate book with fun pictures.  By reading a book about Halloween ahead of time, you can introduce your child to vocabulary and activities they might experience at Halloween.  This activity targets: mother reading to children in the fall timevocabulary development, literacy, and comprehension.
2. Create a book or timeline about your Halloween plans.  For many children, Halloween festivities can be overwhelming.  Prepare them ahead of time by creating a book about what you will do during Halloween.
Include places you will go, things you will see, and people you will be with.  You might even include appropriate phrases your child will use at Halloween (e.g. “Trick-or-Treat” or “I like your costume!”).  This activity targets: vocabulary, sequencing, literacy, narrative language, social skills.
3. Create a fun Halloween snack.  There are lots of fun and creative ideas on the internet (example: mumified pizzas).  Write out the steps needed to make the snack, and help your child brainstorm things you will need.  Afterwards, encourage your child to share their snack with others and describe how they made it.  This activity targets: executive function, sequencing, vocabulary, expressive language, social skills.
4. Create a Halloween craft.  Crafts are a great way to work on sequencing, vocabulary, and following directions.  The internet has endless ideas for creative kid-friendly crafts.  A few of my favorites are Enchanted Learning and DLTK Kids.  Encourage your child to share their craft with others and explain how they made it.  This activity targets: sequencing, vocabulary, following directions, expressive language.
5. Make a Halloween scrapbook to remember the day.  Take digital pictures throughout the Halloween festivities.  Afterwards, print each picture out and glue them into a construction paper book.  Help your child describe what happened in each picture (Who is in this picture?  What is mommy doing?  Where are we going?, etc).  Encourage your child to share their Halloween scrapbook with family and friends.  This activity targets: answering questions, literacy, expressive language, social skills.