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Heavy Work Strategies for the Busy Family

Young Boy Holding a Pile of LaundryLife can get heavy from time to time and everyone gets stressed out. Unknowingly, many adults cope with said ‘stressors’ by incorporating various self-regulating strategies into their daily routines. They may take a deep breath or find their ‘zen’ in a yoga class. Some may take pleasure in the simplicity of sipping a warm cup of tea, while other more physical individuals resort to running a mile or two. Yet others prefer to lounge under a tree to read an enchanting romance novel. Children, like adults, need to have the ability to calm their bodies and self-regulate. One way for children to gather themselves in times of stress is by incorporating “heavy work” into their daily routine. ‘Heavy work’ activities provide deep proprioceptive input into a child’s muscles and joints, and thereby help them self-regulate in the same way that exercise may help an adult deal with stress.

Here are some examples of preparatory methods that can be incorporated into everyday life and used before a child encounters a stressful situation such as a loud birthday party, busy school day, or long car ride.

Heavy Work Activities To Provide Deep Proprioceptive Input For Children:

  • Help Mom: The completion of many chores can help incorporate ‘heavy work’ into a child’s daily routine. Examples include: carrying laundry, stirring recipes, pushing a grocery cart, or carrying shopping bags from the car.
  • Relay races and other forms of exercise are wonderful ways to build endurance and self-regulate. Examples include: wheelbarrow walks, froggy jumps, bear crawls, army crawls, crab walks, skipping, galloping, yoga, swimming, and gymnastics.
  • Play Outside: Take a walk and pull a wagon full of goodies, push a friend or sibling on the swing at the playground, build a
    sandcastle at the beach, or help around the house with yard work.
  • Rearranging Furniture: Pushing heavy chairs and couches provides deep proprioceptive input to the major joints and muscle groups of the body. You could put a fun spin on the activity and make a fort using furniture and blankets right in your living room!

‘Heavy work’ strategies can be incorporated into everyday life no matter the context or season. The use of these strategies may assist your child with more independence and self-soothing when they are feeling upset. This will also allow them to strengthen their muscles, increase their endurance, and may just help you cut back on the time spent completing housework chores. For other self-regulating ideas, please contact a NSPT occupational therapist.

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Go Outside! The Many Benefits Of Outdoor Play For Children

These days, technology has made everything more convenient for us, including play. Children don’t have to leave their house as they have a wide assortment of video games and educational Outdoor Play Blogcomputer games to choose from, as well as educational toys that talk and move and as a result, we see a decrease in outdoor play. These advances can be great and very beneficial for a developing child; however, technology cannot replace what is most important- the real, natural experience.

The benefits of outdoor play on children:

Children need to engage in outdoor play to experience the smells, textures, sounds and movement of the world in order to help their nervous systems develop. Children need the natural sensory experiences to learn about the world, and how to react to and adapt to their surroundings. Sometimes children really want to stay inside to play video games and sleep, but when they do this they are deprived of these developmentally important, sensory-rich experiences.

The tactile sense, for example, is a very important sense as we need steady tactile stimulation to keep us organized, functioning and healthy. Tactile information helps to develop visual perception, motor planning, body awareness, social skills and emotional security, among others. The vestibular, proprioceptive, visual, and olfactory senses are very important as well, and children need to utilitze these in order to help the development of their gross and fine motor skills.

Some fun activities to stimulate children’s senses during outside play include:

  • Splashing and playing in puddles
  • Playing in the mud and making “mud pancakes”
  • Picking flowers to make a wreathe, or to play “flower shop”
  • Climbing trees
  • Running around barefoot in the grass
  • Playing in sand and making sand castles
  • Swimming in a lake
  • Riding a bike on a bumpy driveway outside
  • Crunching dried leaves with your feet
  • Raking leaves and jumping into the piles
  • Making snow angels, snowmen, igloos, forts and having snowball fights in the winter

The benefits are many; one mother has even said that her “picky eater” child “is so much more willing to try new foods after he comes home from playing outside.” Children also need some time for relaxation and unstructured play to learn about the world and to help develop their imaginations. So go ahead, relax, and let your children go outside!

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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How To Get Your Child Outside And Active In The Summer

Battling Their Electronic Friends

Parents often struggle with getting their children out and about during the summertime. Many children are perfectly content with watching televisiHappy Boy in Lawn Sprinkler With Friendson, playing video games, or playing on the computer for hours. It’s often up to parents to make sure their children are engaging in outdoor activities and staying active.

If you feel like you’re in a constant battle with the electronic devices in your home, it’s time to get creative and get your children outside. Below are some helpful suggestions to encourage them to be more active in the summer.

Fun Outside Activities For Children

Get Wet! Spend time at your community pool. If a community pool is not an option, then use your backyard for some water fun! You can have water balloon tosses, water bucket races, or play with squirt guns or water squirt toys. You can even dance and play in the sprinkler. Get a kiddie pool or a big tub and fill it up with your children’s favorite bath toys.

Get Dirty! Dig and play in the dirt. Plant flowers or search for different kinds of bugs. Give your child a magnifying glass and see what kind of treasures they can find! You can also bring out your children’s favorite toy trucks/trains and Lego blocks and create different communities for them to travel through. You and your child could start your own vegetable garden. You can plant tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and other veggies. Children will not only be fascinated when they see their veggies growing, they will learn about the growing process, too!

Get Artsy! Bring a table outside so your child can have their own little art area. Provide them with markers, crayons, paints and lots of paper, and let them explore their creative side. Outdoors is the perfect place for messy finger painting. Have your child create pictures or play games (e.g. Tic-Tac-Toe or Hopscotch) on your driveway or sidewalk with sidewalk chalk.

Get Educated! If you can, walk or bike to your local library. While at the library, have your child check out different books that they are interested in, and have story time outside. You can also check out books about different plants, flowers, birds and insects, and take these books to the nature center or your backyard and try to find the different creatures.

Get Gaming! Play different outdoor games and invite some of the neighborhood children to play, too. Some different games that you can play are: Hide-and-Seek, Follow the Leader, Red Light – Green Light, Red Rover, Kickball, Four Square, Kick the Can, Hopscotch, Capture the Flag, or Horse/Pig and other basketball games, to name a few. “Inside” games like board games and card games can also be moved to a table outdoors.

• Get Picking! Look into going to different orchards or farms so that you and your children can pick your own fruits and veggies. Then, pack some of them into a basket and have picnic in the park for lunch.

Other Outdoor Options

  • Have naptime outside
  • Take a trip to the zoo
  • Bike, rollerblade or skateboard
  • Blow bubbles, jump rope or hula hoop