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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

 

Picky Eating

Why my Picky Eater Won’t Eat Your Cranberry Sauce

A letter to my well-meaning relatives around the holidays: Why my picky eater won’t eat your famous homemade cranberry sauce…

Dearest Relatives, 

We love seeing you around the holidays! Family is so important to us, and we look so forward to the warmth of a festive home, the scents of dinner cooking in the oven, and the time interacting with our family to celebrate these special days.

This time of year can be hard for my child. The hustle/bustle of gift shopping at crowded stores filled with sparkly and scented shelves and swarms of people sets my little one on edge. Bright lights that decorate your house are a lot of visual input for small, tired eyes. Hugs and kisses from relatives is a squeezy experience all it’s own. My child spends the holiday season overwhelmed, and the family parties are no exception. 

Then comes dinner time.

Days were spent preparing your famous cranberry sauce. You bought special cranberries, soaked them, washed them, mashed them. I’m sure you bought a unique ingredient at the ONE special store that carries it, and you got it JUST before it went out of stock. There was mixing and cooking and chilling. The beautiful treat was placed in the perfect serving dish so your entire family would be able to enjoy your masterpiece.

BUT…

At dinner, my child has trouble sitting politely at the table. After keeping it (mostly) together during the appetizer/pre-dinner activities, my child is quite jazzed. His system has a hard time processing all of the aspects of the evening that have lead up to the main event that is dinner. Asking them now to sit nicely in their chair next to their siblings/cousins/relatives is a feat meant for champions alone. And then they are faced with a gorgeous plate full of “delicious” food, including your precious cranberry sauce, and fear strikes his heart. And mine. 

**Please don’t make a scene, please behave, please let us get through this meal without an upset**

All my pleading cannot account for the fact that this food is my child’s demon, his largest aversion, his highest obstacle, his “Everest.” Maybe he is not ready to face it today, even if (especially if) it is a holiday. Maybe he will gracefully leave your cranberry sauce on his plate and eat around it, maybe he will run and hide under the table in the other room.

My child has difficulty feeling the cranberry sauce in his mouth and is fearful to put it between those teeth for fear of choking or losing it in his back cheeks. Sometimes my child is unable to coordinate his tongue in order to move those berries around in his mouth to properly chew or swallow that goop. It could also be that the texture of wet, mushy berries surrounded in unidentifiable glop is far too intimidating to place in his mouth and swallow. It’s also very possible that the scent of the sweet dish is off-putting to an ultra-sensitive nose. Perhaps the way your cranberry sauce jiggles is overly exciting for the eyes, or too closely resembles another feared food item. It could even be that today is Thursday, and we only eat yellow foods on Thursdays. 

Whatever the reason, please don’t take offense!

  • Please don’t offer more, or comment on my child’s lack of enjoyment of your prized dish.
  • I’m begging, please, please, please, don’t suggest my child eat these berries or ask him to “just try a bite”.
  • I would also love it if you did not snort judgment as I heat up the chicken nuggets in the microwave.
  • Let me help you understand what you are asking before you ask it. Be mindful of what this holiday and that cranberry sauce means to me and my child.

We love you, and one day we may also happily indulge in your cranberry sauce. Today may not be that day, but we are working towards that! First, we must master looking at new foods, smelling them, touching them, licking them, biting them, swallowing them, and smiling with joy at the taste. When that is accomplished, we hope that our dear child will eat every bite of your famous cranberry sauce, so we can all rejoice!

Until then, enjoy my child’s giggles, curiosity, love for all things bouncing/rolling, and for you (cranberry sauce not included)!

Happy Holidays,

Mother of a child with a zest for life, a goofy smile, a whit faster than light, and feeding difficulties

Written by: Margaret Lord OTR/L

If your child is a picky eater and mealtime is creating a challenge in your home, contact us for a free consultation.  You are not alone and we can help!

You have Questions. We have Answers.

Schedule a consultation by phone or at our Naperville – Aurora or Orland Park clinic here: