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Month: February 2020

Winter Blues? GET UP AND MOVE!

Do your kids have the Winter Blues? Once the cold weather hits, it’s easy to make excuses for missing opportunities to get out and play outdoors.  But, soon we notice our kiddos in a rut: feeling moodier, not sleeping well, disengaging, increased screen time, etc.  However, research shows that physical activity can actually turn these frowns upside down!

WHY IS IT GOOD TO MOVE ANYWAY?!

  • Self-esteem
  • Communication
  • Balance
  • Muscle strength
  • Coordination
  • Endurance 
  • Memory 
  • Problem solving 
  • Emotional regulation 

Here are some suggestions to beat the winter blues and get up and move!

INDOOR

  • Yoga (Cosmic kids yoga videos are a top choice!)
  • Workout videos (GoNoodle has millions to choose from!)
  • Family game night (charades!)
  • Animal walks 
  • Rearrange furniture 
  • Push/pull laundry basket 
  • Freeze Dance 
  • Musical Chairs
  • BDI playhouse offers low cost classes
  • Local Library (Naperville, Aurora, Orland Park)

OUTDOOR 

  • Make a snowman 
  • Make a snow angel
  • Pull someone/something in a sled
  • Shovel snow
  • Bury your legs in the snow
  • Make a snow fort
  • Push or pull something through the snow
  • Dust the snow off the of the car
  • Dig a hole in the snow
  • Jump into a pile of snow
  • Sweep snow off of the sidewalk
  • Have a snowball fight
  • Make snowballs and stomp on them 
  • Make a snow maze
  • Carry buckets filled with snow

Don’t let your kiddos succumb to the winter blues!  Try out these awesome indoor and outdoor activities!  If you feel like your kiddo still can’t beat the blues and might need some help from a therapist, please set up a free screening at BDI Playhouse!

Written by Jamie Blough, COTA/L

Be Your Child’s Best Valentine

Love is in the air, and Valentine’s day is the perfect opportunity to show your child just how much you love them! While February can be a busy time for families, building in a little extra love for your little one this Valentine’s day can be easy and fun, in addition to bringing you closer together while progressing development and growth!

 

  1. Gratitude Attitude:

    Experiencing gratitude is more than just saying “thank you” when handed something. It’s a strategy to reset even the youngest minds and focus on favorable aspects of life! Modeling appreciation for what you have will build your child’s ability to focus thoughts on thankfulness and positivity. You can do this for your child by pointing out your grateful outlook on items, people, actions, by having your children assist you in giving/donating, and asking your child to reflect on meaningful aspects of their day! In addition, you can thank your child for what they bring you sincerely and often.

  2. Be Present:

    In a world of distraction and instant-gratification, taking time to be “in the moment” with your child is irreplaceable. Put the technology away for a few minutes a day, take your child’s lead in a game, and bring yourself into the moment with intention! Teaching your child to be mindful and present during play is as easy as leading by example. Your child will find deeper connection with you as you are finding meaning in your time together.

  3. Giving Guidelines:

    Being your child’s best Valentine does not mean giving your child gifts or giving in to their every demand. Children thrive on clear expectations and rules, as they use consistent guidelines to determine how to best behave and make choices. Without these clear guidelines, your child will have to work extra hard to grow and learn. Allowing your child to guide their play, interactions and behaviors within the parameters you have set will let them truly shine in a confident manner!

  4. Perfecting your Praise:

    We can show our love for our kids by reminding them how fabulous they are, but the more specific we are the greater love they feel! Your child craves attention from you, and the best way to give it is highlighting specifics within their performance that you loved the most! Instead of saying “Good job”, you can comment that “I really liked how you brought your bowl to the sink after you were finished”, or “You worked hard on that project, I especially like the extra glitter you added!” These specific praise phrases, when offered appropriately and often, increase your child’s sense of accomplishment and foster a greater sense of self!

  5. Calming the System:

    Showing love for your child by being with them in their hardest moments can be challenging, but understanding what your child’s body needs is the first step! Some simple ways to help your child calm their body and their mind when things are escalating include letting them push/carry heavy objects, playing in various textures (play dough, rice and beans, water), bear hugs, turning down the lights, putting on some lovely smelling lotion, or putting on a quiet song. Valentine’s day will be especially positive with a relaxed and calm system.

  6. Taking Pause:

    True love leaves you feeling confident and supported, and sometimes that means letting your child find success in the little things. Before rushing to your child’s aid with stubborn socks or a collapsed block tower, take pause. Give your child a moment to problem solve, and allow them miniature failures within the safety of your love, because the love they will feel for themselves when they overcome a challenge will be magical!

  7. Building “Occupations”:

    For children, finding occupations (or things they want and have to do in their day) can require some assistance from you. Some children do not have enough of a role in the household management or responsibilities, and others have too little time for free play. Finding love through engagement with your child is a special way to be together. Learning to love something while working alongside your child will let your love grow! Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new occupation or hobby too!

So, while the candies and treats are tempting, allow your child to feel a more significant and unending love through their favorite Valentine–YOU!

Written by: Maggie Lord, MS, OTR/L

 

Fixing a Flat (baby head): What is Plagiocephaly and what can I do to correct it?

What is Plagiocephaly (pronounced play-jee-oh-sef-uh-lee)?

Sometimes infants are born with or develop plagiocephaly or brachycephaly, a flat spot on the back or backside of their heads that is noticeable and may raise questions or be a cause of concern. 

Understandably, you may ask:

  • Will my baby’s head shape stay like this?  
  • Is there anything I can do to prevent or fix this?  
  • Will this affect my baby’s brain growth or development?

In the early 90’s the American Academy of Pediatrics advised parents to put babies to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS.  This increased the time spent with increased pressure on the baby’s head from the surfaces they rested on. This also increased the incidence of plagiocephaly (a.k.a. “flat head syndrome”).  In addition, there are dozens of baby positioning “containers” such as infant car seats, swings, and bouncy chairs that keep babies resting for longer periods on the back of their heads. Flat spots can make it challenging for babies to keep their heads in midline and they can develop a preference to turn or face toward a particular side.  These babies may be resistant to or even refuse tummy time because lifting their little heads up against gravity can seem difficult and stressful. Although this will not typically cause problems with brain development, babies that have a flat spot may experience movement preferences to one side, may not latch on for nursing as well as expected, will experience reflux or digestive issues, and may be extra fussy, colicky or more difficult to calm.  

How can I tell if my baby has a flat spot?

No two babies have the same head shape but asymmetries or flat spots are usually easy to detect if you know what to look for. Most areas will round or even out as a baby moves her head side to side, up and down, and begins to roll over in the first few months.  Take a look at the baby’s head in several positions. If Baby has a lot of hair it is good to do this while the hair is wet, such as after a bath.  

  • Look at your baby “face to face.”  Are both eyes the same size or is one wider or narrower than the other? Is one cheek puffier than the other? Does the back of his head appear unusually wide or does the head slant sharply upward from his forehead to the back of the head? Do you notice that one ear is higher or in front of the ear on the other side?  
  • Look at the baby’s head shape from behind while supporting him in sitting.  This is often the first place a flat spot is detected. Are the ears level? Does the head tilt to one side? Is the top of the head very wide compared to the area just above the neck?  
  • Now, look at the baby’s head from the top.  Is one side of the forehead more forward than the other? Can you see one cheek puffing out more than the other? Is one ear significantly positioned in front of the other?  
  • Finally, look at the baby’s head from the side.  Is there a slope from the forehead that rises to a point in the back?   

Notice if your baby’s head is moving freely with his body or is the head “planted” on the surface?  Is he beginning to lift his shoulders and arms off of the surface and is the baby beginning to bring hands or toys to his mouth?  Does the baby constantly only put one hand in his mouth or does he turn his head to mouth a toy instead of bringing the toy toward his middle.  When Baby is on his belly, can he lift his head easily up in the middle or does he usually turn it fully to one side or the other to lift it up.  These are all signs that there may indicate a muscle imbalance or be present as a result of the flat spot on a baby’s head. While none of these seem particularly alarming, they can keep your baby from developing movement and visual motor patterns that will advance him more naturally toward rolling, crawling, walking and gross motor play.

What Can I do if I notice a flat spot?

  • Provide lots of opportunities for Tummy time.  
  • Limit time in baby carriers, car seats, bouncers, swings, and containers
  • Carry baby when you can but change positions often to keep hips healthy
  • Alternate the ends of the crib for sleeping so baby will face stimulating sights or light during waking times
  • Provide visual stimulation in front of the baby that moves side to side 
  • Consult your pediatrician or a pediatric physical therapist if a flat spot persists for more than a few weeks.  A baby’s head shape can change quickly from birth to 6 months.  

What if the flat spot won’t go away?

If your baby’s head is held unusually still, he has a distinct head-side or position preference, he is having difficulty nursing, bottle feeding is stressful, or he is resisting positions like tummy time contact your pediatrician or a pediatric physical therapist who specializes in treating infants.  It is best not to take a “wait and see” approach because most of a baby’s head growth happens between birth and 6-8 months and this is the best time to make big changes in head shape and mobility.  Most consultations are free and professionals can offer advice and solutions that can help you and your baby.  

BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy offers free screenings and consultations through Telehealth or at one of our child-friendly therapy gyms in Orland Park and Aurora, IL

Written by Sheri Ireland-Berk, PT
Physical Therapist

 

My Child Cries At Drop-Off and I Want to Too!

What should you do if your child cries at drop-off?  Dropping your child off at preschool, daycare or a babysitter can be a time of anxiety for both parent and child but it doesn’t have to be! Here are some do’s and don’ts of dropping off your teary-eyed child.

    1. Do – Leave- This is huge! If your child cries at drop-off, the longer you linger and extend that goodbye the harder it is for your child to adjust to drop off. This makes your child think they may not have to stay or you will stay with him or her. As a former preschool teacher, one of the most effective ways to leave is to have a short goodbye ritual, for example, “one hug, one kiss, I love you!  Then, mom, you’re out the door. “But my child is clinging to me for dear life or chasing after me, what should I do?” You can let your child’s teacher know you may need some help with separation. Preschool teachers are very creative and can usually find a way to redirect or help your child make a smooth transition. 

    2. Don’t – Sneak out when they are not looking. This can be scary for your child. Always make sure you tell your child, “I have to go now but I will be back to pick you up after school.”  Always say goodbye to your child and let them know who will be back to pick them up at the end of the day.

    3. Do – Tell them they will get to do fun things in school and say it with a smile. Your child wants to feel safe in his/her preschool environment so your expression will help him/her realize it’s going to be GREAT and they will be safe and have fun!

    4. Don’t – Show fear or sadness when you are dropping off your child. If you look scared or sad, your child will be scared and sad and will continue to have a difficult time adjusting. We want our kiddos to feel safe at school so slap that smile on your face and show your excitement for them! 

    5. Do – Acknowledge your child’s tears. Tell your child you understand they are feeling sad but reassure them they are going to have fun, play with friends, make cool stuff and you will see them after school to hear all about it. Your child wants to know you think he/she is in a safe place and you care about his/her feelings and how he/she is feeling at that moment. 
    6. Don’t- Become frustrated with your child’s crying.  It can be scary leaving a parent. Your child’s fear of abandonment is real and he/she needs to know you understand his/her feelings. Acknowledge their feelings, reassure them, and leave.

Remember to give your child time to adjust to this new routine.  They may cry for a couple of days or a couple of weeks. Hang in there and stay consistent with the do’s and don’ts. It can be hard for a parent to walk away when their child is crying.  But, if you make those goodbyes short and sweet you will be picking up a child that is happy to see you and excited to tell you all about their day.  

If your child continues to have difficulty during drop off please contact BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy for a free consultation. You are not alone and we can help!

Written by Jessica Frederick COTA/L