What to Do When All You Hear is “No” from your Toddler

It happens all too often.  We spend every minute teaching toddlers to talk and once they do, we can’t get them to stop! Around age one, first words will appear, just in time for toddlers to learn to express their opinions. The word “no” is often one of the first to be acquired and used by this age group.

If you are hearing “no” from your toddler more than you would like, keep this in mind.  First, as difficult as it may be to always hear “no” from someone so small, toddlers should be able to say no in acceptable ways. This is a critical step to learning independence and working collaboratively with others. Secondly, try to see things from your toddler’s perspective; assess WHY he is saying no. It could be he is tired, hungry or not feeling well.  Maybe he is just crabby (it happens to adults, right?). On the other hand, your toddler may be saying “no” because he is nervous or uncomfortable.  Or your toddler may be exerting independence and refusing simply because he can. To hear “no” from your toddler less frequently, try to address the situation first (i.e., give a snack, introduce the stranger, or allow time to adjust to new changes).   Read on for more ways to hear fewer “nos” from your little one. Read more

What to Do When Your Child has a Potty Accident

Potty training can be difficult.  Throughout the process there can be slip-ups and accidents.  If you have a child who is already potty training, or if you have a child who exhibits signs that he or she is ready to start potty training, then keep these helpful strategies in mind for when an unavoidable accident occurs.

Strategies for dealing with a potty accident:

Potty

  1. Environment:  Create a friendly and inviting bathroom environment.  Provide different books that your child can read while she sits on the toilet.  You can even offer to play different songs while your child sits on the toilet and tries to go potty.
  2. Schedule:  Make sure that you, along with everyone who is with your child throughout the day, is on the same potty schedule.  Using this potty schedule, select a certain amount of time that you want your child to practice going on the potty.  You can start with having your child go to the potty every 30 minutes.  Set a timer. When it goes off, have your child stop what she is doing and try to go to the potty.  After she tries, reset the timer and wait for the next 30 minute potty try.  If your child is still having accidents on a 30-minute schedule, switch to 15 minutes intervals to catch the accident before it happens. Read more

Make the Most of Pediatric Therapy Sessions

Parents often ask how they can help their child make optimal progress while in therapy.  Attending therapy once or multiple times a week is a large commitment, both financially and time-wise.  Therefore, it’s important to make the most of your child’s time in therapy and to ensure you optimize your resources to help your child progress as much as possible.

5 Things parents can do to make the most of pediatric therapy sessions:

  1. Communicate with your child’s therapist.  If you don’t know what your child is working on in therapy, then there is a problem.  Your therapist should continually inform you what specific goals your child is working on and why.  Your therapist should also give you specific ways to address these goals at home.  If you feel unsatisfied with the communication between you and your therapist, talk to him or her about it.  Troubleshoot ideas to open the lines of communication, whether it’s talking at the end of treatment sessions, planning periodic phone meetings, or receiving e-mail updates.
  2. Check-in about the big picture.  In addition to weekly communication with your child’s therapist, schedule time every so often for a more thorough “check-in” meeting about your child’s progress and to collaborate on a plan moving forward.  This might be a face-to-face meeting or a phone conference.  These are best done without the distraction of your child or other siblings present.  Discuss your child’s progress, ask your questions, and get an idea of where things are going from here.  Is your child making progress?  If not, why?  Should therapy be increased to twice a week?  Will your child benefit from additional support from another therapeutic discipline? Read more

3 Clues Your Child May Have an Eating Disorder

As a parent, there are countless matters in your child’s life that bring joy, happiness, and excitement. There are eating disordersalso a myriad of matters in your child’s life that can raise concern and cause alarm. In our youth and appearance based culture, one of these alarming matters is eating disorders.  Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia, along with more general disordered eating, are commonly thought of as a problem that affects teen girls.  Teen girls are historically most affected by these disorders, but boys and younger/older children can also develop these issues.  Read on for 3 clues that may indicate your child is on a path toward an eating disorder.

3 Clues Your Child May Have an Eating Disorder:

  1. Your child is constantly looking in the mirror. Do you notice that your child seems obsessed with the mirror? Does your child appear to be scrutinizing her face and body? Children with body image concerns will often spend a lot of time looking in the mirror, which may take away from homework, family time and other necessary or enjoyed activities.
  2. Your child is overly focused on glamorous images from the media. If your child appears to be fixated on certain celebrity icons, and more specifically, the appearance of these icons, she may also be struggling with her own body image.  Some children pull out magazine photos of a current celebrity obsession and create a shrine of the image. While celebrity crazes are common among children and adults alike, if your child seems to idolize the physical appearance rather than the talents of celebrities, it may be a sign that your child is unhappy with her own image. Read more

Helping Your Client to Optimally Attend: Advice for Pediatric Therapists

“Show me you’re ready!” As a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, I can’t even begin to guess how many times this utterance is repeatedchild attending throughout my day in the therapy gym. While I’m sure that my clients think I sound like a broken record, the bottom line is that if they’re not ready to pay attention, they’re not going to learn what I’m teaching.  What does it look like when a client is ready to attend?  Here are three important ways for young clients to show you, their therapist, they are ready to work and learn.

Three Tips to Gain Maximum Attention from Pediatric Therapy Clients:

  1. Ready Body: The body is still and facing the person who is speaking. It is not jumping, running, or facing other areas of the room. Read more

7 Ways to End Bedtime Battles

Bedtime battles are a common issue among many parents with young children. However, putting your child to bed atend bedtime battles night can become an enjoyable time where you can wind down and spend some quality time with your child. By following a few simple guidelines, the bedtime routine can turn into a more enjoyable experience for the whole family.

7 Tips for a Smooth Bedtime:

  1. Keep the Time for Bed Consistent, and Create a Nightly Routine to Follow – Children respond really well to routines, and it will help them learn what is expected each night.  It will also make the whole bedtime process easier for everyone.
  2. Avoid the Use of Electronics the Last Hour Leading Up to Bedtime – Instead of your child playing video games or watching a movie, have her engage in more calming activities such as reading, coloring or taking a bath before bed.
  3. Gradually Transition Into Bedtime – Do not suddenly tell your child that it is time for bed. Instead, give warnings that bedtime is approaching starting about 45 minutes before she needs to be asleep, and then remind your child again 15 minutes before she needs to be asleep.  Continue to give warnings right until it’s time for bed.  If your child does not yet fully understand the concept of time, you can use a timer to help.
  4. Always Remain Firm but Calm – Never negotiate when you child does not want to go to bed, or if your child gets out of bed repeatedly. Calmly tell your child that it is time for sleep, and lead her back to her bed. In this situation, the less talking, the better.
  5. Adjust Nap Schedules if Necessary – If you notice that your child does not appear tired during her regular bedtime, consider adjusting her nap schedule or eliminating naps altogether.
  6. Give Your Child Choices During the Bedtime Routine – When children have choices, it gives them some degree of control.  This sense of control is likely to make them more compliant. Examples of choices that can be given at bedtime include what books to read, which pajamas to wear, or how many stuffed animals to keep in bed.
  7. Teach Your Child to Fall Asleep Alone in Her Own Bed -These are good skills to teach at an early age.  If your child begins to fall asleep only when a parent is in the room, or only when she is in her parent’s bed, this can become a habit that is difficult to break. Teaching independent sleep early will help alleviate many future bedtime struggles.

Click here for advice on how to deal with night terrors.  For more information on healthy sleep habits, contact our behavior therapy team.

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What is Verbal Behavior?

Verbal Behavior (VB) is an Applied Behavior Analytic approach to teaching all skills, including language, to children withautism Autism Spectrum Disorders or other related disorders.  Language is treated as a behavior that can be shaped and reinforced.  This is done with careful attention given to why and how the child is using language.  Verbal Behavior uses similar discrete trial teaching (DTT) techniques such as “SD-response-consequence,” but the approach is slightly different.  VB programming focuses on “manding” (requesting preferred items).  If a child can request what he wants, his world is a better place.  Pairing is also used.  Pairing the table, instructors, and work areas/materials with reinforcement is important to a VB program.

Another key aspect of the VB approach is the idea of “teaching across the operants.” In Verbal Behavior, teaching the child the word “ball” would require several steps.

Steps to teach a Child the Word “Ball” Using Verbal Behavior:

  • The child can “mand” for the ball if they want it.
  • The child can receptively identify the ball (listener responding).
  • The child can expressively identify or label it (tact).
  • The child can match the ball to another ball (matching to sample).
  • The child can perform a motor movement using the ball (motor imitation).
  • The child can answer a question about the ball (intraverbal).
  • The child can repeat the word ball (echoic).
  • The child can identify the ball by it’s feature, function, or class. Read more

What is Pairing? Advice for Pediatric Therapists

Pairing is a very important part of starting a therapy program with a child.  It helps you, as a therapist, build rapport with the child and establish a pairingrelationship.  When working with a child, one of the main things you want to do is pair yourself with fun and reinforcing items.  You want the child to find you, and the environment, exciting and pleasing.  If the child is having fun and likes being with you, then he will be more motivated to come to therapy to work and play.

6 tips to help with pairing:

  1. Play!  When you first meet a child show him the different toys, games, and activities that are available.  Allow him to play with the different items to familiarize himself. Read more