MOMMY-ITIS! What is it?

As moms, we share our brains with our children or our husband daily. They rarely are just our brains to do with what we please! So, what good tips can  you remember while using YOUR mommy brain so that you don’t spend your child’s childhood with MOMMY-ITIS?

How to handle your “Mommy Stress”:

  1. When you think about your kids, and what they did to make you angry, sad or stress you out: manage yourself. Focus on what you can do to make things better, not always trying to fix them. stressed mom with lots of kidsDo you need a better schedule? Do you need more breaks or more help at home? Do you need to communicate better with your husband to get the child behaving better? Do you need to meet with an expert to get parenting advice?
  2. Don’t REACT, ACT! Manage it!  We all have bad things happen to us, we just don’t have to be victimized by it. So, when the hubby is in a bad mood or the kids are obnoxious, don’t raise your tone and get all negative with everyone….get control! Use your positive and happy parenting and personal skills to make change in the present!
  3. Mom you probably get on your own case more than anybody! Do you think that If you are tough enough on yourself it will make you better? No! this is not good thinking! Be happy! You can set standards and have high expectations but you don’t need to beat the you know what out of yourself! Craziness does not get a good response! Look at yourself in the mirror and enjoy your age, your health, your being! Tell yourself you are trying hard and things are not horrible and you are happy to be alive and given privileges and chances to make your children good people with good lives! Be positive and use constructive language with yourself, don’t bring yourself down!

Be happy and get over your MOMMY-ITIS! THIS IS YOUR RX!

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The Use Of Visuals For Speech Development | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s webisode, a Pediatric Speech and Language Pathologist gives details on how different visual aids can help children develop speech.

 In This Video You Will Learn:

  • What is a speech visual
  • What types of visuals can help with the development of speech
  • What ages and conditions the visuals work best with

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’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman. Today I’m standing here with Deanna Swallow, a
pediatric speech and language pathologist. Deanna, can you tell
us what visuals are and how they help children with speech?

Deanna: Sure. A lot of research has been done to find out which ways
children learn the best. It’s been well-documented that children
learn well with a multisensory approach. Because speech and
language rely so heavily on an auditory system, we try to use
the visual system to help enhance a child’s ability to process
and use spoken language.

There are a lot of different ways and reasons that visual
support can be used, depending on the child’s needs. I’ll show
you an example that I made for one of my kids who has difficulty
following directions. I made a schedule for them that had each
different step visually presented so I could speak each step to
the child and then point to it as I spoke. In this example
visuals are used to help process.

For developing toddlers, oftentimes people will use baby sign to
enhance their development of speech. For older children or
children who don’t have means to verbally communicate at all,
sometimes we will use an entirely visually-based communication
system such as PECS, the Picture Exchange Communication System.
This system was developed for preschool-aged children with

There are a lot of augmentative communication devices that rely
wholly on visual input. Here’s an example of a binder I made for
my kids that has a lot of different activity choices. I’ll use
these in a variety of ways to help children to let me know
different activities they want.

Robyn: Thank you so much, Deanna, 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 That’s

In-toeing in Children: How common is it?

Most children learn to walk with their feet pointing straight ahead, however, when they walk with their feet pointed inward, this is called in-toeing, or pigeon-toed. According to Columbia Orthopedics, 2 out of every 1,000 children will in-toe. In-toeing affects boys and girls equally, and is often noted to both

There are 3 main causes of in-toeing:

  1. Femoral anteversion: A condition where the hip turns in.
  2. Tibial torsion: Where the lower leg turns (shin bone) in when compared to the upper leg.
  3. Metatarsus adductus: The bones in the foot turn in.

The most common cause of femoral anteversion is tibial torsion. Tibial torsion usually starts in-utero and disappears by the time the child is 5 or 6 years old. Femoral anteversion can also be started in-utero, and is usually corrected by age 9 or 10. Most of the time, in-toeing corrects itself with no intervention. Special shoes and braces used to be quite common in treating femoral anteversion, however, these have been proven to not be helpful in treating in-toeing.

Most of the time, in-toeing does not cause any problems with sports or leading a normal, healthy lifestyle. It has not been proven to cause arthritis in life, which is a common mis-conception. However, some children fall or trip more often when they are younger secondary to in-toeing. Physical therapy can help with balance reactions, safety awareness and strengthening to decrease the tripping and falling and help promote proper alignment.

If you are worried about your child’s in-toeing, or suspect that it is getting worse, talk with you pediatrician or contact a licensed pediatric physical therapist.


References: The Children’s Hospital at Westmead

Columbia Orthopedics, New York Presbyterian

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Dogs can benefit from OT, too!

On a recent flight, I was browsing through the SkyMall magazine, when I came across an ad for “the best solution for dog anxiety, guaranteed!” The product, Thundershirt, is a pressure garment designed to be worn by dogs to assist with anxiety. The product’s design is actually based on a principle from the Sensory Processing theory, which I use in my practice on a daily basis. dog with vestThe idea behind the Thundershirt is that it provides continuous pressure to the dog’s body, thus creating a calming effect; this belief stems from the concept of proprioception according to Sensory Integration theory. Proprioceptive input is the input the body receives from its muscles and joints. When the nervous system receives proprioceptive input, it has a soothing effect on the body.

In my pediatric occupational therapy sessions, I use weighted blankets, weighted vests, or weighted lap pads** to provide this calming input for myclients who may have difficulty sitting still for a board game or for a client whose body is moving too fast for the activity at hand. I often recommend weighted items as part of a home exercise program for children who have difficulty falling asleep at night or who require help relaxing their body to focus on homework. In fact, I have also benefited from a deep pressure hug or curling up under a big blanket when feeling stressed or upset, both of which help to ease my mind. Not only will human adults and children find occupational therapy principles useful, but dogs can too!

What have your experiences been with the use of weighted items?

**There are weight and usage guidelines when using weighted objects with children. Be sure to contact your occupational therapist for assistance in determining the appropriate weighted product for your child.

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The Benefits of Fort Building

When it is chilly outside or on a rainy spring day it can be easy to run out of indoor play ideas for your children. A great activity which is often forgotten is fort building. This activity helps to facilitate development of many important skills for building a fort

 Benefits of Indoor Fort Building for Kids

  • Planning: deciding the materials to use and a plan for how to build the fort
  • Problem solving skills are required to build the fort and fix it if it falls apart
  • Teamwork if made with siblings or friends
  • Facilitates creative and imaginary play
  • Small spaces can facilitate a calming/regulating effect for some children
  • Improve core and upper extremity strength: create an obstacle course through the fort or play a game/read stories while laying on their stomach inside the fort

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Catch Your Child Being Good

In today’s world many parents are so quick to notice the annoying or bad habits that children do. We are fast to say things like, “Stop that!” or “Don’t do that!”. Sure, that will get the child to stop what they are doing for a moment or two, but in the long run that will not prohibit them from doing the same thing in the future. Rather than catching your child doing something wrong, try to catch your child mom high fiving sonbehaving appropriately. By providing positive reinforcement you will be more likely to have your child repeat these desired behaviors more consistently. Below are four tips on how to catch your child being good.

4 Tips On How To Show Your Child Positive Reinforcement:

  1. Catch Them In The Act. The quicker you catch the child in the act the better. Try to make sure that you provide praise as soon as the behavior occurs and try not to prolong or delay the reinforcement.
  2. Be Specific. When your child is doing something appropriately be sure to draw attention to him or her by letting them know that you are proud of them, and more specifically, exactly why you are proud. Do not use generic praise (i.e., “Nice job!” or “You are the best!”) but make sure you specifically say what your child did well, see examples below
    1. Johnny, nice job sharing the Legos with your brother!
    2. Sarah, I love how you are using an inside voice while your sister is taking a nap!
    3. George, thank you for picking up your toys without me asking!
  3. Don’t Just Use Words. In addition, to providing specific examples/situations in which you are proud of your child also add in physical and tangible forms of praise and excitement.  Pair your words with a:
    1. smile
    2. high five or fist pound
    3. hug
    4. pat on the back
    5. stamps and stickers
  4. Have Them Earn Rewards. Your child can also earn little tickets or coupons when you catch them doing a desired behavior (i.e., behaving appropriately, doing chores without being asked, helping a younger sibling, sharing, etc.). Once they get a certain amount of tickets or coupons they can choose a special reward (i.e., picking out an extra story at bedtime, having a few extra minutes to play the Wii, getting a special snack like an ice cream cone, selecting the afternoon activity, etc.).

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Is Thumb-Sucking Okay For A Child’s Speech? | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s webisode A Pediatric Speech and Language Pathologist gives us the low down on thumb sucking and it’s effects on speech.

In This Video You Will Learn:

  • The effects thumb-sucking can have on a child
  • How to identify dental problems
  • Who to ask if there are speech concerns

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’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman. Today I’m standing with pediatric speech and language
pathologist Tanya Lotzof. Tanya, can you tell us if it’s okay
for a toddler to suck their thumb?

Tanya: I think it’s more important to consider the possible effects of
thumb-sucking. Thumb-sucking can affect the shape of a child’s
oral cavity. It can also affect how the teeth grow in and their
tongue position.

All of those factors contribute to whether or not they’re going
to have dental problems or speech and language problems. It’s
important to talk to your pediatric dentist and your
pediatrician. If they’re noting that there are concerns going on
they can refer you to a speech language pathologist to address
the speech and language problems or the feeding difficulties.

Robyn: Thank you so much for answering that, 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 That’s

Cell Phones: When Should Your Child Get One?

Now that my oldest child is eleven, a “tween”, the subject of getting a cell phone is slowly creeping into conversations in our home. She insists that she needs a cell phone because she will be walking to junior high school next year. When does a child NEED a cell phone? Well, in my day… cell phones didn’t exist.girl with cell phone

Question: When does your child need a cell phone?

Answer: Your child needs a cell phone when you need your child to have a cell phone. Sorry, parents, teens, and tweens, there really isn’t a hard and fast rule for an age when a child should get a cell phone.

When You Need Your Child to Have a Cell Phone:

  1. Emergencies– Most parents say they allowed their child to have a cell phone so the child can contact the parents or other adults in case of an emergency, or vice versa.
  2. Teaching Responsibility– Allowing your child to get a cell phone teaches him to be responsible for his own belongings and to obey the limits you set (talk time, text usage, etc). If your child wants a cell phone before you are completely convinced, have him pay for the phone and service plan by earning the money. If he is too young to get a job, he can earn it through extra chores around the house, mowing neighbors’ lawns, shoveling driveways, baby-sitting, etc. This idea also works when your child wants the newest technology instead of your old phone.
  3. Tracking Your Child’s Whereabouts– I apologize to all my children’s friends (and my teen and tween clients) for the following: If you agree to get your child a cell phone, insist that your child check in with you while she is away from home. The rule should be: “If Mom or Dad calls, texts, or messages you, you must respond immediately, or your cell phone privileges may be revoked.” As a parent, remember to be respectful of your child’s activities and refrain from contacting your child when he cannot answer the phone. Obviously, if your child’s plans change, he can show he is being responsible by checking in and making sure the change of plans is okay with Mom or Dad.  Many phones also offer GPS tracking which lets you know where your child (or specifically, where your child’s phone) is at all times. This is important for keeping your child safe and also for knowing where your child is if you suspect your child is not being honest about where she spends her time.
  4. Constant Contact– To many teens, this falls under the “be careful what you wish for” category. If your child has a cell phone, you can contact her wherever she is. If you are running late and she is waiting to be picked up from a class or practice, you can let her know.
  5. Picking Up From Activities– Yes, this benefit goes for both parents and kids. If your child ends an activity earlier or later than expected, or if your child is going to be waiting at a different location than what you originally planned, your child can call, text, or message you about where to go.
  6. Internet Use– A cell phone with internet capability is much more cost-effective than buying another computer for the home. As kids get older, more and more of their homework relies on research done on the computer. So, if your child has a cell phone where he can look up information, it will free up your home computer for other uses. And, it can be used as a back-up computer if you have common power outages in your area.
  7. Entertainment– Of course, time limits on the cell phone should be set, but having a cell phone means that your child can entertain himself when you have to drag him on an errand with you. He can talk or text his friends, play games, and you have the benefit of avoiding the “I’m bored” discussion with your teen/tween.
  8. Keeping Up with the Joneses– Of course, this is not high on the parental list, but as parents, we all wanted something that our friends had, so we could “fit in”. Having a cell phone is a way for your child to fit in with and communicate with his friends who have them.
  9. Peace of Mind– If your child is home alone or if she has to walk to or from school, having a cell phone can give you and her peace of mind knowing you both are only a phone call, text, or message away.

Other Options Vs. Getting Your Child A Cell Phone:

As I write this, I am still on the fence about whether my daughter needs a cell phone at her age. If you are on the fence like I am, consider:

  1. A family cell phone– This works well when the oldest is not a teenager yet. If one child is going to be away from home and you want to have the benefits of 1-9 mentioned above, but don’t want to break the bank by getting several cell phones, consider having a shared cell phone. Many cell phone companies will offer an “add a phone” option with unlimited text and several hundred minutes of talk time for a nominal monthly fee.
  2. An iPod touch or other MP-3 player– Many kids already own these devices. Let’s face it, kids are not generally using cell phones to talk anyway. With these, your child can email you and you can receive messages immediately on your smart phone. You can also send your child emails or messages on their device. Some programs also offer free texting.

You Are An Expert Too

How did your family address the cell phone dilemma? Please comment below regarding the solutions you have found and how they worked or did not work with your family.

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Home Alone: How To Know When Your Children Are Ready

Deciding when your child is ready to stay home alone can be challenging.  Some young children may insist that they are ready before you think they are, whereas some teenagers may feel nervous even though you feel confident in their abilities. While most experts agree that children should be at least 10 years old to stay home without adult supervision, there is no magic number of when children will be ready. Before determining whether your children are ready to stay home alone, ask yourself the following questions.

Is Your Child Ready To Stay Home Alone:girl happy

  1. Does my child show responsibility?
  2. How does my child handle unexpected situations?
  3. How aware is my child of safety procedures?

If you feel confident in your child’s abilities to show responsibility, stay calm in unexpected situations, and use safety guidelines, then the next step is to prepare your child to stay home alone. Below are 8 practical tips.

8 Ways To Prepare Your Child For Staying Home Alone:

  1. Check in with your child about how he/she feels about staying home alone.
  2. Explore any anxieties or fears your child has and provide active listening, support, and problem solving.
  3. Create a consistent safety plan with your child (i.e. emergency numbers, home security system, ways to reach you).
  4. Review with your child what is expected during the time he/she stays home alone (i.e. homework completion, can/cannot have friends over, can/cannot use certain appliances) .
  5. Give your child tasks or activities to do while you are gone (i.e. crafts, new movie, game).
  6. Role play with your child various scenarios (i.e. someone comes to the door, someone calls the house, smoke alarm goes off, someone gets hurt) that could happen while you are gone to help him/her feel confident and prepared.
  7. Practice with your child by leaving the house for 30 minutes and discussing how your child felt.
  8. Give praise whenever your child is able to stay home and follow all of the rules and guidelines!

We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas! What have you used to gage your child’s readiness to stay home alone? What tips would you give to other parents?

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5 Infant-Friendly Places in the Chicago North Suburbs

As pediatric therapists in Glenview, Highland Park and Bucktown, we are always looking for child friendly places to suggest to our clients.  Below is a list of five infant friendly places for parents to try out with their kids!

Kohl Children’s Museum Kohl Children's Museum

2100 Patriot Blvd, Glenview IL

The Kohl Children’s Museum is the perfect place for children to play, explore, and learn. The museum has 17 exhibits, including exhibits which rotate so that every visit feels brand-new. Kohl is infant and young-toddler friendly as three unique specialized infant-areas are located within the museum exhibits so that parents may stay with their infants and young crawlers while keeping an eye on the older ones. Afternoon hours tend to be quieter, and likely provide an excellent place to bring the littlest of children. Nursing stations are provided to allow nursing Mom’s their privacy. Admission is free for children under 1, $9.50 for older children and adults.  They also do a great job of accommodating children with special needs.  North Shore Pediatric Therapy has worked with the museum in creating a walk-through guide which can be found here: Parent’s Guide 

AMC Sensory Friendly Films

AMC, partnered with the Autism Society has established a nation-wide program for children to experience sensory friendly films. Once monthly, 10am showings of current children’s feature films are screened in a family-friendly atmosphere perfect for small children, or children who find traditional theater experiences to be overwhelming. The lights are left on, the sound is turned down. Getting up, moving around and dancing are all encouraged! Your infant or young toddler will not be required to sit through an feature film, so your whole family can experience movie-magic together, without fear of being “shhhh-ed.” Check the website for local listings.

Nibbles Play Cafe

13 Huntington Lane, Wheeling IL

Nibbles is a café that serves up more than a great cup of coffee. Here you can get your caffeine fix while your child explores indoor play areas specially designed by early childhood professionals. An infant- area allows for early crawlers and walkers to explore in a soft and safe zone separated from older toddlers and children’s imaginative play and art projects. Adults and children under age 1 are invited to enjoy a day at Nibbles free-of-charge while admission for older children is $7.50 each, $3.75 for siblings.

Children’s Museum of Oak Lawn

5100 Museum Drive Oak Lawn, IL

The Children’s Museum of Oak Lawn features many exciting exhibits, and also boasts a Tummy Time exhibit just for infants and young toddlers. “Tummy time” is an important exercise for children’s early motor development (link to one of Bridget’s blogs?) and what better way to encourage your infant, than in a specially designed area for little ones to scoot and explore, belly down! Many children’s museums have rooms or exhibits dedicated to infants and toddlers, look into your local museum to find what they have to offer! Admission is free for children under one year, $6 for older children and adults.

Exploritorium in Skokie

The Exploritorium is a basement-level playground that offers a  infant play areas, a mock theatre, computer stations with educational computer games, water play, a large art area, and a two-and-a-half story climber with slides, tunnels, and swaying bridges.  Perfect for stir crazy children on rainy days. It’s also available for birthday party rentals.  Kids under 1 are free!

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