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

Create a ‘Fidget’ to Help Your Child Focus This School Year

Markers. Crayons. Pencils. Book-bag. Pens. Glue. Ruler. Scissors. Calculator. Folders. Tennis Shoes. 3-Ring Binder. Notebooks. Etc. The “Back-to-School Checklist” seems to grow longer and longer each year. However, there is one useful item that often does not appear on this list which can help your child to stay focused throughout the ups and downs of the school day.   This item is known as a fidget.

As your child picks, pushes and squeezes his fidget, it will be provide his fingers, hands, and wrists with proprioceptive input. This input is extremely regulating for a lot of children, which can help them to stay focused during class.  Read on for simple instructions to make your own fidget at home.

Simple instructions to make your very own fidget:

  1. Encourage your child to choose his favorite colored balloon.
  2. Use a funnel to fill the balloon with rice or sand so that it is about the size of a baseball.
  3. Tie the balloon’s end into a knot.
  4. With markers, encourage your child to decorate his new fidget as desired. Read more

Conquer the Back-to-School Blues

Summer is winding down, and school is fast approaching.  While this time of year brings excitement, it also triggers stressors in parents and children alike. Children wonder so many things: What classroom will they be in? Who will be in their class? How will their teacher handle their idiosyncrasies? Parents also have their own set of questions regarding their children’s return to school. Follow the tips below to help ease the whole family into the new routine of school and to help everyone conquer the back-to-school blues.

Steps to Conquer the Back-to-School Blues:

  • List the positives of each possible classroom assignment and teacher. The mere mention of your child’s classroom placement may cause him, and you as parents, concern. Instead of worrying about it, come up with a list with your child about the positives of each classroom option. Be creative and help your child explore the small (but potentially positive) details of being in every classroom available to him. For example, one classroom may be closer to the washroom, or one might have a door to the playground. Listing the positives of each potential teacher/teacher’s aide is also recommended. This can help put you and your child at ease by recognizing that there are great things about any classroom possibility.
  • Remember that there are opportunities to see friends outside of the classroom. When the class list is posted and you and your child find out that he may not have many friends in his classroom, remind him that he can see his friends before and after school, at lunch, at recess, and in elective-type classes.  Also, if there are children of concern in your child’s classroom, it is also helpful to remember that there will be some opportunities throughout the day to mingle with other kids. Listing the positives of some, or all, of the kids in your child’s class is also recommended here. This will prepare your child for the school year and for how he can get along with the peers in his classroom. Read more

Build Your Child’s Vocabulary Through Salient Features

salient featuresLabeling an item and expecting your child to remember the word is not as easy as 1, 2, 3.  In order to map new words into your child’s lexicon (i.e., his/her word dictionary), particularly if he or she has a language disorder, teaching salient features is essential for word understanding, use, and retrieval.  The following are key salient features when teaching new vocabulary, maintaining previously learned words, and expanding vocabulary.

Key Salient Features:

  • Category: Including the category into which a word belongs helps organize the word into a group.  This then facilitates further thought about words that are related to the target vocabulary word. For example, a pencil belongs to school supplies.  What else belongs to school supplies?
  • Place Item is Found: Identifying a location where a word may be found allows your child to visualize the target word.  For example, a pencil can be found in a pencil cup or in a drawer at home and in a desk or backpack at school.  Avoid non-specific locations such as the store or at school, as many items are found there.
  • Function:  Talk about the purpose of the item.  For example, a pencil is used for writing.   Identifying this feature allows a child to connect a noun to an action. Read more

Hearing Impairment and Language

The earlier your child is diagnosed with a hearing impairment, the earlier he can receive services to assist in the development of speech and language skills during the critical 0-3 year-old period. Children with a hearing impairment are at a disadvantage during this time frame because much of language develops from exposure to the sounds and voices around them.

Implications of a hearing impairment during early childhood can include the following:

  • A smaller base vocabulary
  • Slower acquisition of words and sentence structures
  • Some American English sounds are produced with a very high frequency which is harder for children with hearing impairments to hear.  As a result, children with hearing impairments don’t learn these sounds.
  • Difficulty hearing and/or producing the /s/, /z/, /sh/, /ch/, /f/, and /v/ sounds. Read more

Red Flags for Feeding & Swallowing Disorders in Children

Most of us taking eating and swallowing for granted.  These actions come naturally and allow us to eat our mealsfeeding and swallowing disorders peacefully.  However, for some children, feeding and swallowing disorders make these natural reflexes and muscle actions difficult.  Read on to understand more about feeding and swallowing disorders and for red flags that your child may have a problem in this area.

What are feeding & swallowing disorders?

Feeding Disorders include difficulties gathering food to suck, chew, or swallow. According to ASHA:“…a child who cannot pick up food and get it to her mouth or cannot completely close her lips to keep food from falling out of her mouth may have a feeding disorder.”

Swallowing Disorders, also known as Dysphagia, include difficulty in one of the following stages of swallowing: Read more

Help Your Child Learn to Sequence

Whether we know it or not, we are constantly sequencing throughout the day. As we tie our shoes, we sequence the steps. When we complete a project, we plan the order tasks will be accomplished. As we talk with friends, we organize our thoughts and ideas into a logical order. For some children, however, sequencing can be challenging. 

You might notice your child having difficulty verbally expressing herself. Her ideas might appear fragmented or disconnected. She may leave out important information while including irrelevant details. Or you might notice your child forgetting important steps when completing daily tasks, such as going to the bathroom. She might forget to close the door or flush the toilet. If you find this is a problem for your child, fear not. There are many ways to practice sequencing with your child.

5 fun activities to help your child develop sequence skills at home:

  1. Retell a favorite storybook. Read a book with your child. Afterwards, retell the story together while thinking about three important things that happened. This may be challenging for your child, so simplify it by using pictures as you retell the story. Photocopy pictures from the book (choose just a few important pages as opposed to every page), and have your child tape pictures on the wall in the correct order.
  2. Plan a fun recipe. Plan out the steps you will need to complete the recipe. Based on your child’s age and level, you might write the steps out or draw pictures of each step. After you’ve completed the steps to make the recipe, encourage your child to share it with others. Have her describe how she made it.
  3. Make a scrapbook from a family outing. Plan a fun outing and take pictures throughout the day. Afterwards, have your child put the pictures in the correct order (limit it to 3-5 pictures, depending on your child’s level). Glue each picture in a construction paper book and help your child write a sentence to go with each picture (first…then…etc.). Encourage your child to share her book with others and tell them about her fun day.
  4. Have your child be the “teacher” while you play a game. Choose a favorite board game, and pretend you forgot the rules. Encourage your child to be the “teacher” and tell others how to play. Guide her language by writing or drawing pictures of each step while she explains the rules.
  5. Talk about various sequence concepts. Concepts might include first, then, second, last, before, or after. Line up your child’s stuffed animals and encourage your child to find the animal who is “first.” Or you play “Simon Says” while encouraging your child to follow directions in the correct order (“Simon says first___, then___”).

Most importantly, have fun! The best kind of learning is often when your child doesn’t know she’s learning at all. By choosing fun activities, you can enjoy time with your child while still helping her learn and grow.

Do you want to learn more about sequencing?  Click here to learn about the difference between sequencing and memory.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonDeerfieldLincolnwoodGlenviewLake BluffDes PlainesHinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

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5 Ways to Help Your Pre-Writer Develop Her Pencil Grasp

Your child is constantly growing, learning, and developing motor skills that she will use later in life.  One of thesedeveloping pencil grasp important motor skills is her pencil grasp.  By the time your child is three and half, she should have developed the skills necessary to hold her pencil with her thumb and the pad of her index finger.  Below you will find 5 ways to help her develop this skill.

5 Tips for Helping Your Pre-Writer Develop Her Pencil Grip:

  1. Employ “The Alligator”: Have your child make her hand into an alligator’s mouth, as if her fingers and thumb form the teeth and lips.  This “puppet-like” shape will help your child to grab onto a pencil, crayon, or marker using the pads of her fingers.  Instruct your child to place the marker in the alligator’s teeth and to keep the alligator’s mouth (web space) open.
  2. Use Stickers:  Place 2 stickers near the tip of your child’s markers.  These stickers will serve as a visual cue for your child when she is picking up the marker.  This additional cue may help her to remember where to put her fingers and to use her thumb and pointer finger together.
  3. Keep Supplies Her Size:  Give your child various small supplies, such as short pencils (much like the ones you find at the mini-golf course), broken crayons, or short markers.  Since your child’s hands are much smaller than your own, giving them supplies that are just their size will make it easier for them to use a more refined grasp.
  4. Use Lacing Cards: Engaging your pre-writer in activities that don’t involve a pencil or paper can also help her to develop her grasping skills.  Pick up some lacing cards (you can also use cardboard and a hole puncher to make your own).  Encourage your child to hold a shoe-lace with her thumb and pad of index finger as she weaves it in and out of the holes.  This activity helps to develop her visual-motor skills that are so important for writing. Read more

Tips to Help Decrease Anxiety Levels in Preschoolers

Preschool children experience anxiety for a variety of reasons including transitions, changes to their routines or disruptions in theanxiety in preschoolers home.  Some children simply have a higher ‘set’ anxiety level than others.  If your preschooler is experiencing anxiety, try these tips to get him feeling happy and calm.

Tips to Decrease Anxiety Levels in Preschoolers:

  • Model good social skills. When a child sees his parents having meaningful friendships, he will be more inclined to want to make friends of his own.
  • Act as an intermediary for the child in social situations. Help the child introduce himself to other kids.  Encourage the kids to play with toys, or suggest a game.  Setting up regular play dates can be helpful. Even if the children don’t play directly with each other, being around other kids can help a child become less shy. Read more