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Scoliosis exercise

Movements to avoid: Modified exercises for Scoliosis

Children and teenagers with scoliosis have changes in the alignment of the curve of their spines. Changes in the spine impact how the bones slide over each other when moving during day to day activities.  In addition, changes in the ligaments and muscle length result in the spine moving further into the Scoliotic posture when bending, extending, and rotating the spine. People with scoliosis should avoid these movements when possible. Repetitive movements into these postures can cause the curve to worsen during periods of growth. Children and teenagers are constantly growing which makes childhood and adolescence critical periods for ensuring proper movement and posture.

Functional movements that children and teenagers commonly perform that result in increased bending and rotating at the spine include: picking up/carrying objects, squatting, and doing stretches and core exercises. For children and teenagers, it is important to avoid these movements while playing, doing sports, socializing, and during everyday activities at school and home. A Schroth-certified physical therapist can help to make movement and posture modifications in order to bring the spine to a more natural position. They are trained to help children and teenagers learn safe movement and posture habits so that they can use them every day.

Children and teenagers with scoliosis should avoid exercises like sit-ups. They should also make sure to maintain a straight spine when performing other movements and stretches.  Other modifications include having your child bend their legs instead of their spine when picking up objects. They can do this by squatting down or kneeling on one knee when picking up something off the floor. Further, a Schroth-certified physical therapist can create a customized treatment plan that can address specific activities or sports that your child loves to do so that they can continue to participate in the safest way possible.

Stretching is still possible for your child or teenager, but it is important they try to keep their neck extended and maintain a straight spine. They can also perform stretches on their back when possible.  If your child’s head is flexed (bent down) the rest of their spine will follow this harmful posture and the spine may be progressed into a more curved position. 

 

 

Core Exercise Modifications

 

                    • Prone planks

 

 

                    • Bird Dogs

 

                • Leg lifts/lowers while laying on back

 

If your child or teenager has scoliosis, they can still excel in the sports and activities they love. They will just need to learn a few modifications to help maintain a healthy spine. Using the Schroth Method for scoliosis, physical therapists at BDI Playhouse can work with you and your child to achieve any goal while learning safe ways to perform certain movements. To learn more about how we can work together to make those goals a reality, schedule a free screening or call us at (708) 478-1820. 

 

I can wash my hands all by myself!

Is your child having trouble washing his hands by himself? Is he not thorough when washing hands? Or, would you like your child to wash hands independently? Teaching your child how to wash their hands can be accomplished in a few easy steps!  The important thing to remember when teaching any hygiene routine is to make it fun and model the action yourself!  The more they watch you do it, the more they will want to do it too!

First, make hand washing fun! Get some fun soap, make it a game, and sing a little song!  There are some fun songs on YouTube that you can memorize and sing along with your child or just make one up!

Tell your child they are germ busters when they wash their hands well. No germs will spread because I busted them up! 

Create a handwashing procedure and place it in the bathroom for your child to use. You can print this one if you like. Steps for hand washing.

  1.  Turn warm water on and wet hands.
  2. Lather up! Grab your fun soap and make tons of 
  3. Sing ABC’s or Happy Birthday while scrubbing to get rid of all the germs.
  4. Rinse those bubbles off your hands in warm water! See ya later bubbles! Turn the water off.
  5. Dry hands really well! All done! You did it! You busted all those germs! Yeah!!

If your child has a hard time implementing hand washing into their day and you would like some additional help specific to your child, please contact BDI playhouse to set up a free screening.

Written by: Jessica Frederick, OTA

Improve Children’s Posture – 5 Easy Exercises

Caregivers can help improve children’s posture by encouraging exercise! Children’s posture is influenced by injury, weakness, genetics, and daily habits. Slouching on a couch playing video games, carrying a heavy backpack, a sports injury, or bones misalignment can all impact proper posture. It is important to promote a good posture at a young age in order to prevent further injury, pain, and avoidance of activities that were once enjoyable to your child.

Here are 5 exercises to improve children’s posture:

1. Bridges

This exercise strengthens glutes and low back muscles to improve children’s posture. Make sure to complete repetitions slowly. Also, lift buttocks during inhalation and lower them during exhalation. During exhalation, you can have your child count out load from 1-5 or blow out. 

 

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2. Reverse abdominals

This exercise strengthens the abdominal muscle group, which is also key to improve children’s posture. Make sure to complete repetitions slowly. Also, lift feet during inhalation and lower them during exhalation. During exhalation, you can have your child count out-load from 1-5 or blow out. Avoid excessive arching of the low back during the exhalation phase.

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3. Superman:

Strengthens upper and low back muscle, glutes, and hamstrings. Have your child hold the position for 10-30 seconds while simultaneously counting out-load or singing a song.

 

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4. Down Dog Yoga Pose:

Strengthens core, hip, and shoulder muscles. In addition, assist with stretching, flexibility, and relaxation. Have your child hold the position for 10-15 seconds and avoid breath-holding.

5. Animal Walks:

Bear walks, crab walks, and frog jumps are just a few examples of fun and dynamic animal walks that can be incorporated into any activity to assist with core muscle strengthening.

If you find it is difficult to improve the child’s posture after trying these exercises, therapists at BDI Playhouse are here to help your child get stronger, learn healthy habits, and avoid further complications such as pain. Please contact us for a free consultation.

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Written by Keishla Gonzalez-Acosta, MSPT, DPT

Considering E-Learning Summer School? Find success with 3 simple tips!

Did you have trouble juggling your kids’ e-learning, your job, and the other many responsibilities that come with being a parent? Well, you’re not alone.  Do you want your child to do summer school but don’t know if you want to commit to more e-learning?

Here are 3 easy tips to help you and your child maximize the benefits and your time while completing E-learning activities. 

1. Start off your day by making a realistic schedule for what you want and need to accomplish. And don’t forget to let your kids help! 

  • Allowing your kids to have a say in what their day will look like will give them a sense of ownership, making it more likely for them to stick to it. Depending on the child, it can be as vague or detailed as you’d like. 
  • This schedule will set the expectations for what you and your kids will accomplish but also provides a set of boundaries. 
8:00 am

9:00 am

11:30

12:15

1:003:304:00 5:15 6:30 
Breakfast / free playE-learning with movement breaks includedOutside time / free playLunchE-learning with movement breaks included Go for a walkLast E-learning activities of the day!Help mom & dad with dinner / Free playDinner


2. Set up your environment for success for e-learning!

  • Pick 1 place in your house where school work will take place every day. This way your kids’ brain knows when it’s time to work and when it’s time for a break. No one wants to be thinking about their math homework while watching their new favorite show on Netflix. 
  • Provide proper seating that creates a productive posture for learning! Hips, knees, and ankles should be at 90-degree angles. 
  • Try to pick a place that offers natural light! Place the light behind the workspace so the light isn’t distracting. 
  • Minimize distraction by turning off the phone or placing it on airplane mode. 

3. Take a movement break! Lots and lots of movement breaks!

  • Movement breaks are extremely valuable. Scientists have found that the average learner needs a movement break every 20-30 minutes. 
  • The area in our brain responsible for memories is known as the hippocampus. The hippocampus processes information and creates long term memories, but this can take time! Movement breaks give our brain a chance to process what we just learned and turn that information into a long term memory. Without breaks, our hippocampus can get overwhelmed and miss out on information that we intended to remember. 
  • Physical activity increases oxygen to the brain, which in turn enhances our ability to focus and learn. 
  • Movement breaks can reduce stress, anxiety, and offer a quick sensory break allowing our kids the time and space to regulate their mind and bodies.

What might a movement break look like for e-learing? 

  • Set a timer to go off every 20-30 minutes
  • Start a new timer for 3:00-5:00 minutes (This app is a hit)
  • Pick your exercises
  • Turn up the music and get to moving!

*You can add challenges to make it more difficult such as doing the movement backward, faster, or slower.

Example:

Break #1Bear walks & Jumping Jacks
Break #2Crab walks & Somersaults
Break #3Sit-ups & Bunny hops
Break #4Frog jumps & Log rolls
Break #5Free dance! 
Break #6 Wheelbarrow walk & wall push-ups

Struggling with E-learning

E-learning is new for everyone, so don’t be too hard on yourself if it isn’t going as smoothly as you anticipated. Implement these 3 tips to maximize the benefits of your E-learning experience!  If you want some additional ideas, specific for your child, please schedule a free screening with one of our therapists!

Written by: Katie Estey, OTR/L

Why Tummy Time is Important

Why Tummy Time is Important

Tummy time is important for your baby’s development. Here are the top 7 reasons why you should be incorporating tummy time into your baby’s routine.

1.  Strength

Spending time on her belly is important because it strengthens the neck, back, shoulders, hips, arms, and hands.  It will help to increase the range of motion / stretch tight muscles in the neck, hips, and abdominals. 

2.  Coordination and Body awareness

Your baby will learn about her body in a different position and experiment with how to work with and against gravity.  She will learn to pivot (reaching and pivoting are precursors to crawling), balance, and increase postural control.  By increasing coordination and body awareness, your baby will also initiate hand-eye coordination with reaching, hand grasp and release.

3.  Prevent of flat spots

The more you baby is on her tummy, the less likely the back of your baby’s head will develop flat spots (positional plagiocephaly).

4.  Acquire gross motor skills 

The more waking hours spent on their tummy, the earlier babies will roll over, push up on arms and crawl (Dr. Karen Adolph, director of the NYU Infant Action Laboratory). Tummy time also strengthens extensor muscles which will lead to better sitting skills and postural control of your baby. 

5.  Sensory exposure 

Lying on their tummy lets babies feel different textures on their arms, hands, and cheeks.  This helps grow their touch sense and helps develop movement and balance (vestibular sense).

6.  Vision 

Your baby will experience the world from a different perspective during this time.  It allows your baby to see things both near and far.  It also helps them develop eye and hand coordination.

7.  Aids in digestion and reflux.

Sometimes despite your best efforts, babies continue to resist spending time on their tummy. History of reflux, a slightly misshapen head, muscle asymmetries such as torticollis, and other challenges may require additional problem solving to improve tolerance to being placed on the tummy.  Don’t give up! This position is critical to developing and achieving motor and cognitive milestones. We can help you figure out how to improve tummy time. Try our free Infant Massage Classes or call for a free screening to see if there is more we can do to promote healthy infant mobility. 

If your child resists tummy time, is developing a flat spot, is unusually fussy, often looks to one side, or holds his head to one side, or you have any other questions about development, don’t hesitate to give us a call.  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

 

Starting Potty Training

Ready to start potty training your child? Are you unsure of where to begin? Do you feel hesitant to jump in without more information? Here are 6 ideas to do before you start the process of potty training. 

#1 READ! 

A great introduction to potty training for your child is to read books to increase the child’s understanding of what potty training means! There are numerous books available for your child’s understanding featuring their favorite TV characters, book characters, and many more. Some examples include A Potty For Me by Karen Katz, The Potty Book (one for boys and one for girls) by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, and Potty by Leslie Patricelli.

#2 BATHROOM SET UP

Next, make sure your little one’s feet are stable. Putting feet on a stable, flat surface, like a step stool, puts their pelvis in a perfect position to make going potty easier for the GI system.  It also helps kids feel safe and stable enough to relax and let things flow.

#3 EXPLORE THE BATHROOM 

Encourage diaper changing in the bathroom to help kids begin to associate that potty stuff happens in the bathroom, making the transition to the toilet easier!

#4 DRESSING

Have your child practice pulling pants and underpants up and down so they feel confident to remove clothing when an urgent need arises. Dress your child in easy to manipulate clothing so they can quickly undress themselves. 

#5 UNDERSTANDING SENSORY

If your child is sensitive to sights, sounds, or smells, the bathroom may be overwhelming. Remove any unnecessary visual distractions like excessive toys, decorations, or toiletry items that may clutter the room. Limit the use of air fresheners, scented soaps, or perfume. Reduce sounds by closing the doors and windows. If possible, dedicate one bathroom to use for potty training. 

#6 MAKE A ROUTINE

It a great idea to have a daily schedule and routine for how often your child should go to the bathroom.  You can make a routine with steps the child needs to perform. A visual schedule of all the steps a child needs to complete can help them visualize what is next and reduce anxiety since they will know the expectations. 

Example Routine: signal to use the bathroom, goes to the bathroom, pulls down clothes, sits on the toilet, urinates or defecates, grabs toilet paper, wipe, flush, pull up clothes, wash and dry hands, leave the bathroom. 

Toilet training is a complex task to master! When your child understands what is expected of them during the potty training process, your child will feel confident. If you have attempted to potty train your child several times in the past and you feel like you have hit a roadblock, BDI Playhouse offers free screenings with an occupational therapist to provide additional strategies and interventions to assist with potty training. 

Written By: Megan Wilkison, Occupational Therapist

Falling Asleep and Staying Asleep 

Did you know that kids typically need at least 12 hours of sleep each night? Sleep is important to help improve focus and brain function! But what if your tot won’t fall asleep or stay asleep? Here are some simple tips to help your child get the rest and recovery they need to be happy and healthy.

  1. MOVE
    1. Provide lots of opportunities for heavy work and gross motor movement throughout the day (push, pull, climb, jump, squeeze) – but about 1 hour before bed, switch gears to more quiet playtime in order to ‘wind down’
    2. Provide slow, rhythmic movements either in a rocking chair or a blanket right before bed 
  2. TOUCH
    1. Give your child a warm bath before bedtime
    2. Give ‘deep squeezes’ or firm hugs before bedtime
    3. Provide heavy blankets, body pillows, or stuffed animals to squeeze in order to provide deep pressure (not recommended for infants)
  3. LISTEN
    1. Play soft, calming music (classical music or calming nature sounds)
    2. Read a bedtime story to your child in a soft voice 
  4. SMELL
    1. Lavender helps calm the body – use this in the bath or an air diffuser in the room
  5. TASTE
    1. Avoid caffeine or sugary foods/drinks close to bedtime 
    2. Drink warm water or milk before bed (but make sure to go to the bathroom before falling asleep!)
  6. LOOK
    1. Keep shades drawn and room dimly lit upon entering before bed to lessen visual stimuli
    2. Limit screen time (T.V., tablets, phones) before bed
  7. “SLEEP IS SCARY”
    1. Provide a dim night light so the room isn’t too dark 
    2. Leave bedroom door cracked open 
    3. Provide a security object (blanket or stuffed animal)
    4. Place the mattress on the floor if your child is afraid of heights
    5. Use bed rails or body pillows to increase safety 

The most important thing you can do is follow a consistent bedtime routine to help your child acclimate to a steady sleep/wake schedule. If these tips aren’t helping, BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy offers free screenings to give your child the necessary tools to help fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Written by: Jade Pellerito, Occupational Therapist

How to Support Siblings of Special Needs Kids

Have you ever heard “It’s not fair; he gets all the attention” or “You never have time for me?” Are you dealing with siblings of special needs kids that are acting out or misbehaving as a means of getting your attention?  Do you ever refrain from disciplining them out of guilt?  If you have experienced any of these reactions… you are not alone! This dynamic can happen in neurotypical families but in families with special needs children, it may be even more prevalent.  From therapy and doctor appointments, IEP meetings, and your child’s dependence on you for daily needs it may be challenging to find a balance for the whole family.  The following strategies may help get your family back on track!

#1  Feelings, feelings, and more feelings! 

It’s important to encourage all your children, not just the siblings of special needs kids, to share their feelings and equally important to let them know that their feelings are valid; no right or wrong.  Sometimes children have a  difficult time processing what they are feeling.  As parents, we can teach them this by being a model for them.  E.g. “Mommy is feeling frustrated because I didn’t get to finish my housework today.”,   or  “You seem disappointed because your brother ruined your lego creation.” 

Recognizing and verbalizing feelings can be a challenge for kids and adults. 

Many children learn well from a visual aid. There are many games on the market that teach feelings such as Emotion-oes mood flipbooks and photo feelings decks. Get creative with some fun activities you can do together such as drawing faces or practicing making faces.

#2 Empower your child to be a “leader” for their special needs sibling.

 Studies have shown that children are capable of learning a great deal when they have a peer model.  Who better to do this than a sibling?  Providing guided opportunities for siblings to take on a “leader” or “model” role can also foster a loving and closer relationship between them. It is important to give your child the choice rather than forcing the “leader” role upon them.  This provides the opportunity for a more valuable role to be established by the sibling. At BDI Playhouse, we strongly value sibling relationships and often include siblings of special needs kids in our therapy to model play, language, and motor skills and to enhance relationships. 

#3 Create a “toolbox” of special activities

Activity bags/task boxes can be created ahead of time and used on special occasions (e.g. fine motor boxes, sorting, matching, counting, sensory play, etc) with siblings. Try engaging your child in a previously prepared activity while you assist your other child in tele-therapy or e-learning activities. When my children were little they loved to build forts in their bedrooms for a unique play place.  Encourage this creativity with your children.  While possibly messy, this activity will provide hours of enjoyment for the kids and a perfect time for you to support your other children OR time for YOURSELF. 

#4 Schedule special bonding time or special routines. Remember the quality vs. quantity.  Small gestures can go a long way.  Some of my family’s favorites were… early morning walks, surprise snuggles with mom/dad in the morning, reading together in a special place, and individualized bedtime routines.  Kids thrive on this special bonding!

Ever feel like your child misbehaves because their special needs sibling “gets away with it?” As a parent, we have the choice of feeling guilty about different expectations for different children or empowering those siblings to grow up understanding that we are all unique and have different capabilities.  Giving in to misbehaviors can set the stage for increased negative behaviors, so consistency is key! Children depend on the structure and need stability within expectations, especially when things become challenging.  

At BDI Playhouse, our Speech and Occupational therapists would love to work alongside you to help build a flourishing relationship between your children and to help you optimize your time with all your kids.  Our Occupational therapists can provide assistance with the management of daily routines for the family, foster positive client interaction between siblings, and facilitate increased independence of daily living skills for your special needs child, to allow more focus on siblings’ needs.  Our Speech-language Pathologists can help to grow social and language skills for your child to help foster improved relationships with the whole family. Contact BDI Playhouse to set up a free consultation.

By Sheila Trout M.A.; CCC-SLP  Speech-Language Pathologist at BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy 

bike riding for kids

Is Your Child Ready to Ride? The Do’s and Don’ts of Teaching Bike Riding

Is Your Child Ready for Bike Riding?

There are few things in life that beat the rush of the wind through your hair as you pedal down the street on your bike. Bike riding is a pleasure, a privilege, and a confidence builder for our kids! 

For some, learning to ride a bike can be a challenge. For others, it can be an extreme feat to overcome. In order to properly ride a bike, a child must have a strong trunk in coordination with their movement and balance system to stay upright, coordinate pedaling opposite sides of their body in time with the pedal movements, and use their eyes and hands together to steer the bike. With so much going on, the joy of bike riding is not experienced by all. With a few good ideas though, it can be fun and successful!

The Bike Riding Ready-to-Ride Test:

  • Can your child independently walk their bike out of the garage, down the driveway, and then turn it around and come back to you?
  • Can your child climb on and off of their bike independently? The child’s leg should be able to swing over the rear tire to sit down without any help to hold the bike up or keep their balance.

These two skills tell us that your child has the balance, vision and motor coordination, body and environmental awareness, and strength that will be needed to succeed with bike riding. If those skills are not present, and children similar to your child’s age are riding, it’s a good idea to consult a Pediatric Physical or Occupational therapist for help.

Do you have the proper safety equipment and does the bike fit your child?

We would recommend consulting with a local small business bike store owner. Local bike shops often have an expert on staff who can make sure you are starting with the right size bike and helmet and that the bike is in safe operating condition.

Tips to Teach Bike Riding Successfully:

Do’s:

  1. “Pick”-ture perfect: Your child will be more excited about riding their bike if they have had some say in what bike they will be riding! Things to consider when purchasing a bike include the size of the bike based on your child’s height and weight, and the weight of the bike in comparison to your child’s strength and size. If you are using a hand-me-down bike, have your child help decorate (stickers, streamers, paint) to make it their own.
  2. How it works: Your child will love taking part in the maintenance of their bicycle, including pumping up the tires, checking the breaks, moving the kickstand, and cleaning it. The more understanding a child has about how something works, the more approachable the activity!
  3. Starting Slow: Have your child become familiar with the bicycle and how it moves while walking alongside the bike and holding the handlebars. This slow introduction allows the child to gain confidence in their strength to hold up the bike, ability to steer the bike with both hands, and move the bike around general obstacles they will face in a safe and slow manner.
  4. Climb on and off: Your child will need to make a brand new motor plan for getting on and off the bike. Practicing coordination and strength to do so, will be a good warm-up!
  5. Fake a fall: With your child seated on the bike, allow them to have both feet on the pedals while you support them, and tip side to side. Kids feel safe when they have practiced the “fall” and understand that putting feet down will stop their topple!
  6. Glide guidance: While seated on the bicycle, let your child have feet on the ground and push with their feet to glide along the ground. Learning the balance component without having to worry about coordinating feet for pedaling is a great starter skill!
  7. Hang onto the hips: When practicing moving on the bike, let your child be in control of the bike while you support them by holding onto your child’s belly/hips instead of the bicycle. They will be more confident in their skills when they move the bike rather than you, and they will get a hang of balancing more quickly with less and less support as you practice.
  8. Another Adult: Feel open towards having someone else work with your child on bike riding. Both fear and excitement around bike riding bring big emotions into the situation. Sometimes having someone else work on these skills with your child might be just what you both need to gain skills and confidence.

Don’ts:

  1. Bike banter: If your child is fearful about bike riding, don’t talk about bike riding! Allow for opportunities to engage with the bike, but take the pressure off! More talk about bike riding might turn your child off to the activity altogether.
  2. Asking again: If your child is nervous about learning to ride, don’t ask them about it. Their response will be “no” they don’t want to ride their bike. With time, most kids will want to learn to ride the bike. Slow and steady introduction rather than asking is the way to get their investment in riding.
  3. Expectation “easy”: Don’t tell your child that they will learn to ride their bike “today.” For some kids, that high expectation will seem unattainable and the will-to-try will fade quickly. If they aren’t able to learn bike riding quickly, they will feel disappointed and will be reluctant to try another time.
  4. DIY: Your child wants to learn to ride their bike BY THEMSELF. When you provide all the support, it will not foster learning the skill. It will teach them to rely on your support and prolong the learning process. Let them figure out how to balance, pedal, and turn without doing the “riding” yourself.
  5. Panic Problems: Your child reacts to situations based on your reactions. No one likes to see their child fall or tumble, but a panicked or upset reaction to difficulty will only stress you both out. Do your best to stay positive and relaxed yourself in order to keep your child’s spirits up!
  6. Helmets: Don’t forget a helmet! Even if your child isn’t ready for high speeds, head injuries can happen. Take every effort to make all bike riding experiences SAFE! 

Your child will be cruising down the block in their bicycle in no time, and the smile on their faces will be worth every moment of the learning process.

If your child is not yet able to ride their bike, BDI therapists are here to help! We are trained in movement and activity analysis. We can pinpoint where the difficulty may lie for your child, and provide you with the support you need to get those wheels spinning. Contact BDI Playhouse for a free consultation, and let the bike riding begin!

By: Maggie Lord, MS, OTR/L with contributions from the Occupational and Physical Therapy team at BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy

child routine

When in quarantine, keep your kids in routine!

Why is Routine in Quarantine Important?

We are in the midst of a great time of uncertainty, one we never would have fathomed in our lifetime we would see. As adults, we are processing a myriad of emotions including confusion, anger, fear, sadness or possibly even joy as we savor the extra moments with our family. Luckily, as adults, we have learned how to cope with these feelings in an organized manner which helps get us through day after day (most of the time) and adapt to a new daily routine.  But our little one’s lives have turned upside down too, and they are just learning to cope with these emotions. We as adults have to recognize the emotions our children are feeling and continue to give them the tools to cope with our new, temporary way of life.  

What can sadness look like in your child?

  • Anger
  • Defiance
  • Tiredness
  • Displaced frustration
  • Boredom 
  • Sense of disconnection

No need to fear if any of this looks familiar with your child.  Here are some simple ways to get your child back on track!

  1. Maintain a routine.  Kids thrive off of structure as it gives them a sense of security, control, help establish positive habits and healthy relationships.  Keep your child’s bedtime, wake time, breakfast, lunch and dinner time consistent with your normal routine. A visual schedule, whether written or illustrated with pictures, can be an easy way for your child what to expect throughout the day.  
  2. Incorporate plenty and even extra time for gross motor play or outdoor play.  While engaging their whole body and large muscles through play, they are receiving input to their proprioceptive sensory systems which is responsible for emotional regulation and arousal level. 
  3. Keep electronic/device time to a minimum.  Many of us are facing the added new parental challenge of working from home with our kids present.  It seems an easy fix to keep them independently engaged is to allow extra screen time. However, they are only missing out of opportunities to grow socially, cognitively, and emotionally.  Encourage them to play a game with a sibling, create art, build and invent. This will facilitate problem-solving skills, turn-taking and symbolic thinking necessary for growth across all domains.  
  4. Create task boxes or busy bags.  It’s as simple as gathering plastic boxes, bags, etc. and gathering activities and materials necessary for a specific activity and place in bin.  Keep the activity simple and structured for your child to easily access independently. Some examples may include, color sorting paper clips, pom poms, or buttons into corresponding containers; various note cards with alphabet letters written on each card along with clothespins to match upper and lower case letters; or small, simple lego designs printed out to build different structures.  
  5. Listen to music.  Take a walk. Do breathing exercises.  Or other mindfulness exercises you can do together with your kiddo.  Take a sensory break and focus on things you both see, smell, taste, touch and hear.  Engaging your senses increases body awareness and help manage our emotions. 
  6. Decrease mindless eating.  Remember that daily routine?  This adheres to an eating schedule as well.  Most kids are used to eating breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, and dinner.  Keep dessert and other sugary sweets limited throughout the week. Make sure your child is getting proper nutrition as science shows a connection between brain-gut and releasing endorphins, our feel good hormones.  Also, make sure your child is drinking plenty of water to decrease mindless snacking and hunger.
  7. Engage your child in daily occupations.  Have them get dressed daily, make their bed, help complete household chores, assist in preparing meals, garden, rake, help with putting groceries away, setting the table or call a family member.  Occupations are any type of activity that gives meaning to a person’s life. 

Remember, we are all in this together and our children’s emotions are vulnerable.  Use this complex time in our lives to make the most of learning experiences for our children.  Doing so will make them emotionally, mentally and physically stronger in the long run. We are all in this together. Stay strong and stay healthy, keep going, you got this. 

Written by: Jamie Blough