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How to Motivate the Unorganized Child

Executive functioning challenges can often be overlooked as children are otherwise labeled as lazy or Unorganized Childunmotivated. If a child has difficulties with executive functioning he or she may present with behaviors of avoidance, emotional outbursts, or not even acknowledging the task at hand. This is probably because they are feeling overwhelmed and do not have the foundational skills needed to problem solve through organizational tasks. Helping your child to develop these skills can support their independent success and can increase future task initiation toward personal organization.

What Can Parents Do to Help an Unorganized Child?

Support them, assist in their growth of skills, and praise any small triumph! The general idea is to have the child learn the problem solving skills required to think through tasks that are seemingly overwhelming. First you always, ALWAYS start small, then tackle bigger projects as they can manage. Then as they make achievements, don’t forget to recognize their hard work! Praise moments of follow through and self-initiated tasks with recognition and/or rewards.

5 Tips to Help Organize Their Life:

  1. Establish a place to write it all down- daily planners and a family calendar are great tools to keep track of their time.
  2. Introduce Responsibility- Create a Chore chart and a To-Do list as a family. Don’t forget to keep their age and time needed for completion of these activities in mind when choosing the appropriate task(s).
  3. Acknowledge that the time is ticking- Visual timers are great for those children who tend to take more time than necessary on simple tasks. Timers can also help to keep a child focused and engaged in the activity.
  4. Create a place for all items to have a specific home- Designate places for items and stick to it. Growing up with the golden rule  ‘Always place an item back in its original place, in its same or better condition’ may help keep the house cleaner. Utilizing organizational tools, such as visual prompts (numbering, color coding) and charts can help too.
  5. Check in- They will need a little help! Have the children show you their completed work, planner, clean space, etc. Make them feel accomplished and help them problem solve solutions to existing problems.

5 Activity Ideas to Facilitate their Organizational Skills:

  1. Tackle a junk drawer, pantry shelf, or game closet- Have them help a parent problem solve through the organization of a messy place. Starting in a small place is key so there are no overwhelming moments too big for the child. Have the child think through the task with the parent facilitating only when needed.
  2. Cook with your child- A successful meal requires significant planning, working memory, organization, and time management.  See how much they can lead the cooking activity and help when needed. This can be fun for the child while having a great learning experience!
  3. Have them set up the family’s calendar for the next week or month- Give them the tools to place all of the activities on the calendar and check their work when done. Have the child help recognize and problem solve through time conflicts.
  4. Create an annual family night with board games- Board games are great for independent thinking and problem solving. Their success within a board game can greatly depend on their ability to organize themselves and materials within the game.
  5. Assist with putting together new things- Following written or verbal directions can be very difficult. With supervision and help, have the child responsible for constructing and/or setting up new purchased items.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. 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!

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Stay Motivated in Therapy

How to Keep a Child Motivated in Therapy

Motivation is a state that energizes, directs and sustains behavior and a key component to success in therapy.

The following are some strategies to help motivate clients in therapy:

Make learning fun. Making learning fun for a child increases his or her drive to participate in treatment tasks and, ultimately, to reach treatment goals. You can bring the fun factor in a variety of ways, including: make learning into a game, create hands on activities to target goals, and incorporate technology. Knowing a child’s individual interests and needs is crucial when determining how to makeHow to Keep Your Child Motivated In Therapy learning fun. High interest activities are more likely to increase engagement and effort; however, the activities you use must be driven toward a particular goal and meet the level of support required by the child to learn whatever skill you are targeting.

Use cooperation. Cooperation is working together to accomplish a shared goal. Research on learning shows that cooperation promotes student motivation, problem solving skills, higher-processing skills, self-esteem, and positive teacher-student relationships. Therefore, activities completed in small groups of children – or as a client-therapist team – most effectively foster motivation. So, engage in the same activity as your client and brainstorm, create, and collaborate on projects as an equal contributor.

Give praise. Praising hard work and perseverance, even if the child’s goal has not been met, increases his or her motivation to continue putting in work and effort to achieve goals. For more tips on how to praise effectively, see 5 Tips to Praise Your Child the Right Way.

Give feedback. Feedback is necessary to learning and has been shown to motivate learning. While positive feedback helps increase learner effort, as it draws attention to what the learner is doing correctly and fosters a positive association with the learning process. Therefore, initial feedback should draw attention to what your client is doing right or well – point out effective learning behaviors. After that, corrective feedback should focus on ineffective strategies that a student is using and error patterns (rather than specific errors). Choose one type of error to correct rather than all errors and be sure to provide examples and models.

Educate parents and keep them involved. Tell parents how to reinforce skills at home through practice and praise. Consistency across environments, paired with encouragement during the learning process, motivates the child to practice and apply skills outside of treatment.

Make learning applicable to everyday life. Choosing activities that are applicable to the child helps not only provides them with more opportunities to practice a particular skill, it helps him/her understand why he/she is learning it. This increases motivation by making a direct connection between treatment and real life. If a child does not understand why he/she is learning something, he/she will not be motivated to pursue the intended lesson.

Communicate specific treatment goals. Communicate one or two goals that the child is working toward so he/she understand what he is working toward. Create a visual representation of the child’s progress (e.g., check off short term goals leading to the end goal, make a graph to show accuracy of responses across sessions to track progress over time). It is motivating for a child to understand what she is working toward, the steps needed to get there, and to see the progress that results from practice.

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, 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!

money-free rewards

Reward Your Child Without Breaking The Bank

Reward (noun): a token given in recognition of effort, service or accomplishment.

Everyone, no matter their age, recognizes the positive aspects of being rewarded for hard work and perseverance. Asmoney-free rewards adults, we get rewarded at work with words of praise or a monetary bonuses, encouraging us to continue to strive beyond the minimum. Children, just as adults, recognize and understand the idea of a reward. It is something that is earned; it is something we look forward too; it is something that provides a sense of accomplishment.

Parents often navigate the process of rewarding through toys. However, rewarding children with toys and games can become expensive. Here are a few non-monetary rewards for your children that can build self-confidence, strengthen your relationship, and establish life-long skills for goal attainment.

Money-Free Rewards for Kids:

  1. One-on-one time: Children, especially children who have siblings, crave alone time with one or both of their parents. This is time in which the full attention is on them, their laughs and their actions. One-on-one time can be as simple as a drive around town, an ice-cream date, an hour of play time or even just time when your phone is put away and your to-do task is hidden.
  2. The privilege of picking their favorite game during family game night or favorite movie during family movie night.
  3. Reduction of chores for a day: reward behaviors and accomplishments by allowing your child to “earn no chores” for a day. It’s like you earning a vacation day!
  4. Choosing his favorite meal for dinner.
  5. Additional screen time: an extra few minutes of screen time, whether it be an iPad or television, can be earned. When using this reward system make sure that rules are established and understood, just as normal screen time rules are known.

Click here to read more about using rewards to help your child behave.

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!

How to Get Your New Year Resolutions Back on Track

A few years ago I made what most would think a pretty simple resolution. I resolved to make the year about me. I was going to try to stop putting everyone else ahead of myself all of the time. I was going to get manicures when I wanted them, go to a movie once in a while, treat myself to new clothes, etc. Sound a little backwards? Well maybe for most, but for me it was a significant change. So much so that I still wasn’t able to follow through with it! I had the most selfish resolution in the world and I still wasn’t able to stick to it! So if you already broke your New Year’s Resolution on January 3rd, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Luckily a resolution is not about a specific day, it’s about you and your promise to yourself. You can still get your goals back on track with these helpful tips.

Tips to Get Your New Year Resolutions Back on Track:

  1. Reassess: Take a moment to really sit down and talk to yourself. Look within and determine how much youhow to get your new year resolutions back on track really want this and what you’re willing to do to get it.
  2. Make sure your goal is realistic: If you set an impossible goal for yourself you are more likely to become discouraged when things don’t work out as you hoped, and then give up on your goals. On the flipside, you don’t want to make things too easy either. Push yourself, but don’t go crazy!
  3. Split it up: Split your goal up into smaller goals. A resolution to lose 50 pounds can be quite daunting, but if you decide to lose 4-5 pounds a month it is much more doable.
  4. Reward yourself: Resolutions can often feel like a negative experience. Often people give up a lot to meet their resolutions, but 6 months later they are miserable. Even if you can’t have that pizza or your favorite ice cream, you can find other ways to reward yourself for a job well done. Get a manicure or a massage, plan a night out with some friends, or get a cute new workout shirt! Many people reward their kids for a good report card, but they forget to reward themselves.
  5. Buddy up: Sometimes you may need a support system, someone to challenge you, or just company in general. There’s a good chance that someone you know has a same or similar resolution. Especially if your goal is to lose weight or train for a run. Find someone else with a common goal, and help each other through it.
  6. Get started!: A body in motion tends to stay in motion. A body at rest tends to stay at rest. So put down the iPad or step away from your computer and get started! Go for a walk or a run, schedule that next event, or go clean the junk food out of your kitchen. There is no time like the present.

There you have it. 6 easy steps. Hopefully you’ll be back on track in no time. You can do it! J

Click here to read 5 Healthy New Year Resolutions.

5 Tips to Keep Your Child’s Backpack Organized

Ever wonder how your child’s backpack goes from looking like it belongs in a museum exhibit on the first day of school, to looking like there was an explosion of school supplies, snacks and nick-knacks thrown together a few weeks later?  Read on for 5 tips to help your child keep his backpack organized throughout the school year.

5 Tips to Keep Your Child’s Backpack Organized:

  1. Have a designated place for everything.  Work out a system with your child at the beginning of the year (or whenever you realize that the current system is not working), and designate a spot for all materials.  This may mean putting all writing utensils in a plastic box or a carrying case, having different colored folders or using a binder system.  Make sure you have a place for the odds and ends too, such as scissors, rulers, and informational papers to bring home to mom and dad. Read more

How To Teach The Word “More” In Baby Sign Language | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a pediatric speech and language pathologist walks us through teaching baby sign language with an emphasis on the word “more”.

To understand the benefits of baby sign language, click here.

In this video you will learn:

  • The best ways and setting to teach your infant sign language
  • Ways to teach the sign “more” to your infant

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, and I’m standing here today with Kate Connolly, a Pediatric
Speech and Language Pathologist. Kate, can you tell our viewers how to
teach baby sign language, and maybe, even show us one of the signs?

Kate: Sure. The best piece of advice I can give you for teaching sign
language is to pick words and environments that are very motivating to your
child, so toys that they really enjoy, activities they love, food they
love. Those are all going to be very motivating for the child, and they
will acquire the language a little bit better, and the sign associated with
it.

One of the earliest signs to talk about is the word more. And it’s two duck-
like fingers and then double tap them very quickly, more. And the best time
to teach this is during mealtimes, because what is more motivating than
food for your child. My advice would be that when your child is indicating
that they would like more of an item, so they’re looking at the
refrigerator, or they are looking at you, they’re pointing at the peaches
in your hand. You can do the double tap, “More? You want more peaches?
Let’s have more.”‘ And then immediately provide your child with the
desired item.

As they start to see that, make sure they are focused on you. They are not
looking away, they are not looking at the refrigerator, they need to be
seeing the sign and associating it with the word, more. Enunciate. Change
your volume, “More? More?” That’s really going to help attract the
attention of the child. Then you can help them do the sign for themselves.
Take their hands into a more pattern and have them do it. And slowly,
slowly, as they get comfortable with the sign, gradually allow them a
little bit more time to do it independently, and hopefully you’ll be
signing with your child in no time.

Robyn: All right. Thank you so much, and thank you to our viewers.
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.

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.

Flexibility:

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 Signs your Child is Ready to Read | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s webisode, an academic specialist introduces us to the 3 top indications a child is ready to start reading.
Click here to read our blog titled “10 Signs of a Reading Disorder

In this video you will learn:

  • What factors determines the child’s desire to read
  • What is phonemic awareness
  • Signs in the child’s behavior indicating his readiness to read

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, and I’m sitting here today with Elizabeth Galin [SP], an academic
specialist. Elizabeth, can you tell us what are three signs to look for
that a child may be ready to read?

Elizabeth: Absolutely. The first sign to look for when your child is ready
to read is motivation. You’re looking for your child looking forward toward
that reading time, sitting down with you, understanding that books open and
close, they turn pages right to left, that the words and the pictures on
the storybook tell us something, tell us the story.

And as children get older, the next thing you’re looking for, the second
thing you’re looking for, is letter recognition. Children begin to
understand the letters of the alphabet, specifically letters in their name
or maybe, letters in a brand that they recognize, Thomas for Thomas the
Tank Engine or stop like a stop sign, and then they begin to associate
sounds with those letters and that’s called phonemic awareness.

The third thing that you’re looking for in a child being able to read is
print awareness. So they begin to realize that letters on the page come
together to form words. Those words form sentences. Those sentences tell us
the story that we’re listening to. And you may find a young child being
interested in imitating writing. They can’t form the letter but they make
pretend letters.

Robyn: All right. Well, thank you so much, Elizabeth. Those are some great
things to look out for, 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.

How to Teach your Child with Sensory Processing Difficulties How to Ride a Bike

Learning to ride a bike can be a scary and overwhelming adventure for both the parents and the child involved!  There are many components required for bike riding, such as motor planning, body awareness, trunk control, balance, self-confidence, following directions, safety awareness, timing, and sequencing.  However, one of the best things about bike riding is that the child is typically very motivated and excited to do it, as he sees his friends or other children in the neighborhood doing so already.

SPD Child riding a bike

Below are several strategies on how to get started:

  • Practice lots of balance activities:  balance is a huge part of bike riding; therefore, it is important to strengthen these skills by challenging your child’s ability to maintain various positions including standing on one leg, sustaining yoga poses, walking across balance beams, or kneeling on an unstable surface such as the bosu ball.
  • Incorporate a variety of activities with wheels:  while being able to ride a bike independently might be the ultimate goal, it is beneficial to incorporate other similar skill sets into your child’s play experience.  This will help you and your child to take the emphasis off of the fact that he does not know how to ride a bike and help to focus on the excitement of trying new things (e.g. scooter, skate board, tricycle, roller skates, etc.).  Similarly, your child might really excel at one of these activities, in which this activity can then be used as a confidence booster when the child has already mastered it.
  • Practice inside:  have your child practice simply balancing on the bike/sitting on the bike in a safe environment, such as inside (e.g. basement or playroom/living room if appropriate).  Place large pillows/beanbags next to the bike so the child feels secure, and if he falls, he will crash into the pillows.
  • Involve different family members/friends:  bike riding can be a very complex task; therefore, it can be extremely beneficial to involve different family members/friends to help with the process. Different people have different strategies and ways of motivating and sometimes one strategy will really hit home for your child.  Similarly, then the same parent and child won’t get so frustrated with one another.
  • Visual schedule:  help your child to make a visual schedule/calendar to illustrate when the child will start practicing and what skill he will work on each day (e.g. getting onto bike; peddling with both legs; ride to the corner etc); then the child can put an “x” or a sticker on the chart when he completes a day of practice, or practices a skill etc.  Visual schedules can be motivating for the child, and provide structure.
  • Take the pedals off:  taking the pedals off of the bike helps initially with learning the feel of the bike/balance. Take the bike to a small hill and have the child ride down without the pedals, this provides an introduction to moving and balancing on the bike without needing the coordination to pedal.

Learning a novel activity can be intimidating for a child, as it is a totally new experience and requires a significant amount of following directions and motor planning.  Similarly, teaching  novel activities can be nerve wracking for the parents, especially if it is a skill they have not taught before, like bike riding.  As parents, it is important to keep in mind that every child learns differently and requires different levels of support when learning a new skill.  Make sure to constantly praise your child during this challenging activity, even if it seems like the tiniest accomplishment (e.g. buckling bike helmet independently; putting kickstand down independently).  As always, feel free to talk with an occupational therapist or physical therapist if you need more individualized strategies or have other gross motor concerns for your child.

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When it’s more than a case of “The Mondays”: Motivating your Child when School Is Challenging

“I hate school, I’m never going back!” “I can’t do it!” “ I’m not smart like the other kids.” “My teacher hates me.”

If you’ve heard these comments from your child, you are not alone. Children with learning differences in particular are at risk for school burn-out. girl hates schoolThe work is challenging and the battle seems mostly up-hill; once he or she masters one skill, the next, more difficult lesson poses yet another daunting challenge. You can’t take your child out of school, but here are some ideas to make the time they spend there a bit more relaxed and motivating.

5 Steps To  Motivating Your Child In School:

  1. Appeal to your child’s sense of fun!
    1. Surprises: Try to do something at least once a week to remind your child that you care at school. This can be a notecard with an interesting fact tucked in his pencil holder, a note that says you love him, or some words of encouragement in his Spelling folder on the day of a test.
    2. Extra-curricular Activities: Finding the activity that suits your child’s interests and abilities can foster a connection to a teacher and other students. Be supportive and positive in letting your son or daughter choose one activity that appeals to him or her!
  2. Talk it Out: Get out of the one-word answer rut by asking a different question each day. You can ask questions such as:
    1. What is something that you did really well today?
    2. Who made you laugh today and why?
    3.  What did you make in Art class?
    4. What songs did you sing/play in Music?
    5. If it was a bad day you can ask: What can you do differently to make tomorrow better?
  3. Set Realistic Goals: Give your child practice setting goals by making a specific plan each week for what they can do to improve the school experience.
    1. The child should be involved in the process, rather than having you tell him what he needs to do.
    2. Be sure that the goals you set together will be met with success by creating the goal at or just above the child’s current ability level. For example, if your child got 60% correct on his last math test because he didn’t study, you could set a goal that he will get 70% on the next one and make a plan study one hour in advance of the next test.
    3. If he meets his goal, recognize that at dinner for the whole family or find another way to reward his efforts.
  4. Break it Down: There is a mountain of research since Hermann Ebbinghaus’ 1885 discovery that spacing learning out over multiple practice opportunities results in better retention and recall than cramming. If your child is going to study for an hour this week, help him break it down into smaller, more focused sessions that will take place throughout the week. Recognize and praise him as he follows the plan.
  5. Positive reinforcement works: Rather than punish your child for mistakes, and further contributing to his sense of failure, look for progress everywhere, including in subjects you may not find as important. If your child sees that you recognize his effort in his favorite subject, and he gets a reward for doing well where he can, this is an opportunity to gradually begin to reward more difficult areas. Depending on your child’s age, rewards can be anything from a certificate of recognition to a formal plan with monetary, tangible, or other meaningful rewards such as special privileges. Consistency is the key with reinforcement systems; be sure to seek the help of a trained professional if your child has substantial barriers to learning.

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