Tuesday, July 30, 2013

5 Ways to Get Your Children to Listen and Obey the First Time...

Do your children seem to ignore everything you say?

Do they seem to forget their chores or just selectively not hear your nagging?

Area you sick of yelling and time outs that just leave your throat hoarse and your child crying?

Well I've got some great tips on how to turn your frown upside down and get your children to actually listen. You'll have a cleaner house and a happier family when everyone is working together and speaking the same language when it comes to getting those chores done.

One thing that is really important to remember when dealing with children of differing ages is that their brains are all functioning on different wavelengths. What does this mean? In a nutshell, your 2 year old doesn't think the same way as your 8 year old, so you may have to use different consequences or approaches for each child. The basics are the same though, when you nag and drag out the point of your conversation, children's attention spans tend to block out what you're saying and miss the fact that they need to take out the trash that night. I'm going to share 5 different communication tips and tricks to help you get your household back under your control.

1)  Jog Their Memory
Don't nag. Repeating your commands over and over to children will cause 'tune out'. Instead try keeping a list of their chores or responsibilities on the fridge and having them refer to it often if they are forgetting something. If they frequently forget a chore, try jogging their memory with a single word rather than a lecture. For example, try saying "teeth" to remind children to brush their teeth instead of chanting it like a rain dance every night. Kids know what they are supposed to do but due to brain remodeling around kindergarten and middle school, they may need a simple reminder to jog their memory.

2) Add Positive Incentives
Adding an incentive may be a great way to motivate the whole family to get their chores done on time. For example, with younger children sticker charts work great when you can "redeem" stickers for a bigger prize like staying up later while older children may appreciate something more concrete like a family movie and game night when everyone does their chores all week. If the whole family knows they have to keep on track and complete their chores they may remind each other of something that wasn't done.

3) Tell Them Why
Children's brains are always looking to make connections so it is important to give them a reason why to do a certain thing. They need to be able to rationalize and make connections in order to have common sense and be able to problem solve on their own. So the next time you're running out of breath screaming at your child to sit down at the table, explain to him/her that chairs are meant for sitting and standing on chairs makes them dirty.

4) Teach Them Feelings instead of Actions
Children bite, hit, scream and throw tantrums when they don't know how to express what they are feeling. Its hard to stop yourself from saying too much or making your child feel invalidated when they don't feel heard. Instead, listen first then teach them the words to express how they are feeling and work together to create a solution. So the next time Sally runs up to you saying that Tom won't share a toy: Listen to her frustration, identify the emotion (You seem very frustrated), and then ask what a possible solution that would keep both of them happy could be. You may be surprised when Sally suggests taking turns and they are both happy when you set a kitchen timer so they get equal play time.

5) Give them Options
Children LOVE to be in control and be independent. Give them a choice so its always their idea :) For example, you're running late to soccer practice and Joey doesn't want to put on his coat and shoes to leave. Instead of lecturing and yelling, ask if he'd like to put on his coat or his shoes first. Either way he's getting ready to leave but now its HIS choice of which to do first.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

5 Games You Should Play with Your Toddler

Last week I posted an article on boosting baby's brain development at an early age and discussed the importance of interaction. But these "hands on" activities aren't just for babies! There are many games or activities you can do with your toddler or child to help increase brain connections called synapses which can help with development and knowledge of how things relate together. In addition these games can help improve motor skills which are needed for hand-eye coordination and balance as they grow.

I've listed 4 games below that you should definitely put in the line up this summer for your toddler.

1) Tea Party for Stuffed Animals
Outdoor tea parties aren't just for children! Grab a blanket and serve up a spread for your little ones and      their stuffed animals. It can help spur the imagination, increase fine motor skills required for cutting small        snacks and gripping small cups, and its a great way to learn social etiquette. I personally always thing of Gru and the girls from Despicable Me "clinking" whenever I think of a tea party :)

2) Go for a Nature Hike
Grab the kiddos and a bag to collect scavenger hunt items such as twigs, leaves, and rocks. Make sure to point out hidden things such as mushrooms growing from beneath moist leaves or moss growing on a tree and encourage them to feel the different textures of nature with their fingers to improve their tactile sensation.

3) Chalk It Up
A bucket of sidewalk chalk is a small investment for the amount of time your children can use it to play. I'd recommend building a couple of hopscotch trails for them to hop along and drawing some animals for them to guess what they are. Show them how to trace their hands or feet and they'll be set in finding new things to trace. This can encourage motor and language development as they identify animals or numbers while hopping around on one foot.

4) Have a Ball
It might take awhile for toddlers to get the hang of catching or throwing a ball but its important to teach them to aim early (unless of course you like the breeze from a broken window!). Catching is usually easier for them to grasp but you'll need to assist by throwing the ball directly into their outstretched arms until they understand that their feet must move towards where the ball will land. To practice throwing try having them toss wadded up paper, bean bags, or Wiffle balls into a trash can or laundry basket. To step it up a notch use streamers and a hula hoop to make a "ring of fire" for them to toss into. (The ring of fire also works as a great attraction at parties)

5) Parachute Games
Hold a sheet or blanket by the corners to toss items such as socks or Wiffle balls high into the air. According to Dr. Lisa Chiarello, a pediatric physical therapist and associate professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, reports that "while your child's bouncing the object with his arms, he's learning the concept of up and down. And because you're both moving your feet a little too, he's practicing stepping sideways, in and out.".

Still concerned about your child's development or want some more personal advice for your family's situation? Call AlignLife at 689-6200 to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Andrea Schnowske.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

3 Ways to Boost Baby's Development At Home

Every child grows at a different rate and meets milestones at a different pace because there is a wide range of "normal" when it comes to growing up. But the biggest concern for most parents happens when their babies fall behind in reaching milestones or have issues with physical coordination.

According to Dr. Karl Rosengren, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, many children that are behind in their development such as not meeting milestones can benefit from consistent additional help at home. So what can you do to help baby's development and strengthen those much needed core skills needed for on track development?

1.)  Host a Sing A Long Time
The rhythm of nursery rhymes or song can help build an early form of coordination and assist with brain development. As an additional bonus try moving baby's arms to the beat or acting out the nursery rhyme as this can also improve brain development and also boost learning capacity later in childhood.

2.)  Take Time Out for Baby Wearing and Tummy Time
Baby wearing is a great tradition for families because it allows interaction with mom or dad to help stimulate sensory development and encourages baby's neck and upper body muscles to develop which can help protect them from health issues later in life. I also recommend at least 15-30 minutes of tummy time daily  to ensure that your child's muscles and basic motor skills are developing on track. I recommend laying baby on your chest and making cooing noises for parents who are trying tummy time for the first time. In addition according to the American Physical Therapy Association, babies who play or lie on their bellies meet motor milestones quicker than their peers so make sure you make time for baby!

3.)  Have a Ball
Encourage baby to develop hand to eye coordination by playing with balls at a young age. Rolling a ball can not only help with sight tracking but can also help baby's brain make coordination connections at a young age to encourage balance and motor skill mastery. Kim Graber, associate professor of kinesiology and community health at University of Illinois reports that babies love to play with balls and they can learn key skills from basic games.

If you're still worried that your child is not reaching milestones on track and are concerned it may be due to a sensory disorder or brain development issue, call my office at 689-6200 for a free baby development consultation to discuss underlying health concerns and ways to boost healthy brain development at home with simple exercises.