Monday, June 4, 2018

Social Emotional Development: Ages 2 – 3 years

Toddlers develop relationships with the people around them right from birth, but the process of learning to communicate, share, and interact with others takes many years to develop.

The following are some of the typical developmental milestones for children 2-3 years of age.
  • Be assertive about what he wants, and says no to adult requests
  • Start to show awareness of her own feelings
  • Begin to show empathy to other children (respond to their feelings)
  • Have rapid mood shifts
  • Show more fear in certain situations (i.e. the dark)
  • Possibly become aggressive and frustrated easily
  • Not like change
  • Want independence, but still need to be reassured by parents
  • Need a consistent and predictable routine
  • Watch other children in play, and join them briefly
  • Begin to play “house”
  • Begin to separate more easily from parents

Red Flags
  • Not interested in pretend play
  • Has extreme difficulty separating from you
  • Not starting to or responding to simple interactions with other children
  • Showing abnormal aggression
  • Shows extreme fears that interfere with daily activities
  • Extremely “rigid” about routines

If you notice any of these by the time your child is 3 years old, you may want to talk to your doctor, or another health professional such as a mental health clinician, a speech-language pathologist, an occupational therapist, or a psychologist.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Social Emotional Development: Ages 1 – 2 years

Toddlers develop relationships with the people around them right from birth, but the process of learning to communicate, share, and interact with others takes many years to develop.

The following are some of the typical developmental milestones for children 1-2 years of age.
  • Recognize herself in the mirror or photograph and smile or make faces at herself
  • Begin to say ‘no’ to bedtime and other requests
  • Imitate adults’ actions and words (i.e. chores, talking on play phone)
  • Understand words and commands, and respond to them
  • Hug and kiss parents, familiar people and pets
  • Begin to feel jealousy when she is not the center of attention
  • Show frustration easily
  • May play next to another child, but will not really share yet
  • Be able to play alone for a few minutes
  • React to changes in daily routines
  • Share a piece of food
  • Develop a range of emotions (may have tantrums, show aggression by biting, etc.)
  • Start to assert independence by preferring to try do things “by myself”, without help

Red Flags
  • Doesn’t imitate other people
  • Constantly moves from one activity to another and not able to stay at an activity for brief periods
  • Requires constant attention to stay at an activity
  • Doesn’t show any interest in other children
  • Doesn’t “show” things to other people
  • Extremely “rigid” about routines, becoming extremely upset when they are changed
  • Too passive, and doesn’t want to try things other children her age are doing
  • Has extreme difficulty waiting for items he wants

If you notice any of these by the time your child is 18-24 months old (2 years), you may want to talk to your doctor, or another health professional such as a mental health clinician, a speech-language pathologist, an occupational therapist or a psychologist.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Social Emotional Development: 9-12 months

Babies start to develop relationships with the people around them right from birth, but the process of learning to communicate, share, and interact with others takes many years to develop. 

Developing the ability to control your emotions and behavior is also a long process. Children will continue to develop their social-emotional skills well into their teenage years, or even young adulthood.

The following are some of the typical developmental milestones for children 9-12 months of age.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Jealousy of a New Sibling

Children showing signs of resentment and jealousy toward their new sibling is very normal, especially for first born children. They often feel that the new baby has taken over their spot in the family and now takes up a lot of the time and attention that used to be directed to them. As a parent, you now struggle with not only the exhausting tasks of caring for a newborn, but also managing your other child’s emotions, behaviors and interactions with the newborn.

So, what can you do?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Child Anxiety: Young Children & Anxious Behaviors

Hair pulling, nail biting, skin picking, lip biting, thumb sucking, knuckle cracking...Child Anxiety.

These are actually fairly common behaviors in young children. They typically serve as a means of managing some sort of anxious feelings and can range from occasional occurrences to daily habits. When they are frequent and cause noticeable problems (e.g., loss of hair, chapped skin, raw nails, etc.), it becomes worrisome for parents.

When you notice your young child pulling out their hair repeatedly over time, notice bald patches on your child’s head or body, see their finger nails or skin red and raw, it can stir up a lot of intense feelings. You may feel confused, panicked, ashamed or guilty. You may wonder, “What is wrong with my child?” or blame yourself, thinking, “What am I doing wrong?”

Children who are aware of their behaviors sometimes feel embarrassed or ashamed. Many parents experience a sense of shame and anxiety themselves when they take their child to social activities like a family fathering, playground or daycare. You are not alone.

If you have a young child with any of these anxious type behaviors, here are few ideas to keep in mind:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

IEP Meeting: Be Prepared

Individualized Education Program (IEP) Meeting: Be Prepared

This is an opportunity for school personnel and parents to communicate. As the parent it is important to do your homework and be prepared. 

An IEP meeting can be a positive experience if everyone is able to communicate clearly. Here are things to do before an IEP meeting:

Monday, June 26, 2017

How to Support Your Child’s IEP Goals Over the Summer

If your child has an IEP, but not able to or eligible to attend a summer learning program, you might feel nervous about how they will maintain progress made during the school year. You can help reinforce their goals at home. Here’s how: 

Review the IEP
The first step in preparing a summer learning plan is to re-read your child’s IEP. Be aware that some goals are designed to be worked on at school, therefore not all of your child's goals can be worked on at home.

Identify Summer-Friendly Goals
When your child’s IEP team creates goals, its focus is on skills to help your child succeed in school.
For example, your child’s IEP may say, “Will increase reading accuracy and fluency to a first-grade level." School may use a specialized reading program, but it is likely you are not trained to use that program. Instead, ask the teaching staff if there are books you can practice with at home or an appropriate summer reading list. 

Your child may also have goals that are not strictly academic. They may be working on social-emotional skills or functional goals. For example, one of her goals might be, “Will identify and manage feelings (anxiety, stress) on a daily basis." You can support this goal by following your child's behavior intervention plan. It will have a description of how the teachers worked with them at school on this goal. You can use the same approach.

Skills You Can Work On
Your child’s IEP can help remind you of the bigger goals they are working toward. In many cases, it may make sense to focus on specific steps toward those goals. Think of each goal as sitting at the top of a ladder. There are many rungs your child has to climb to get there. Each rung is a skill they need to learn to get to the next one. 

Sometimes an IEP plan can break goals into smaller steps or skills already. If your child’s plan does not, check their progress report or ask the teacher to help you list the skills that make up each goal.

Plan Your Summer Program
As you start getting ready for summer, make sure you get the support you and your child need. Here are some guidelines: 

Meet with your child’s teacher and service providers a few weeks before the end of the school year. They can help you get a sense of the current skill level and which skills are most important to work on over the summer.

Share goals with summer programs. If your child will be attending camp or summer school, take time to meet with the director before the program begins. Share the goals you are working on. Ask what opportunities your child might have to practice those skills and how they might be able to help provide support. 

Be realistic about what you can accomplish. Tackling too much can be counterproductive. Make a list of the top things you want to work on over the summer. And be specific. 

Find creative ways to work on skills. You can support your child’s learning in all sorts of ways. Take a field trip to a local science museum. Help practice fractions and measurement while you cook together. You can even work on social skills and money management by having them order and pay at a restaurant. 

Don't forget to schedule down time and have fun!  

Monday, June 19, 2017

Child Therapy Naperville

For Immediate Release

Naperville, IL, June 2017 - Kids and families experience a lot of stress nowadays. We constantly hear about the issues that preschoolers through high schoolers are having. There is frequent news about bullying, friend and peer issues, tantrums or acting out behaviors, anxiety, self-esteem or divorce in families. Many parents look for professional help with these issues. 

"As far as we know, Child Therapy Naperville is currently the only local counseling practice that specializes exclusively in helping children and parents. Many parents say they find us when they are looking for a specialist, especially one that can even help really young kids," says Dr. Denise Duval, Founder and Clinical Director, Child Therapy Chicago & Naperville. 

Dr. Duval's practice has been helping kids and parents in her Chicago Lakeview office for almost 15 years and she is now pleased to open a downtown Naperville office at 29 S. Webster St. Parents can call or email to schedule time for a free phone consultation with Dr. Duval. 

For more details about Child Therapy Naperville or a free phone consultation, please call Denise Duval, PhD at (773) 880-1485 or email

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Summer Family Routines

Summer is a break from the normal school year activities, but don’t let that stop you from maintaining some structure for your children and family unit. It is important to remember to have family learning and bonding time. Follow these ideas to keep your children and family on track, build family rituals, and try new ways of reaching goals.

Read – Many of us read to our children, but things can sometimes get in the way. Summer is the perfect time to get back to reading regularly to your children. Let every family member contribute ideas to a “book bucket list” and select them together. Designate a time of night when you and your children will read together.

Family Meeting – If you don’t already have regular family meetings, summer is an excellent time to start or to get back on track. Family meetings should be routine, not the go to when someone is in trouble. Try pairing the meeting with a special ritual, such as milk and cookies. Start with questions such as; What happened this week? What is coming up next week? What is something wonderful someone did for you? What is something wonderful you did for someone? What are your concerns?

Dinner – Take advantage of having a little more sunlight in your day and try some new fun dinner rituals. Have your children help add to the menu or help you cook. This routine encourages family meals where everyone is engaged and present, as well as teaching simple cooking skills.

Calendar – Time flies in the summer! Each member of your family may have special things they would like to do over the summer. Sometimes, the only way to make sure something happens is to schedule it. Sit down with your family at the start of the season and make a summer bucket list. Make a plan for when these activities will happen and place them on a physical wall calendar where everyone in the family can see it. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Summer Schedule

Creating a summer schedule is important to maintaining structure for your children, as well as building the opportunity to add more fun to your day. It may help to consider these tips when putting your summer schedule in place.

Plan daily activities. These can include exercise, chores, outdoor play, educational activities/crafts, relaxation, hobbies, reading, pool time, trip to the park, board game night and free time.

Draft a schedule. After putting together a list of your activities, draft a schedule that will flow and follow your typical routines. You can customize your schedule any way you would like. Try to follow a specific schedule more than one day a week to set structure and balance.

Example Schedule:
9am - Breakfast
10am - Chores
10:30am - Reading
12pm - Lunch
1pm - Educational activity
2pm - Hobbies
3pm - Exercise/outdoor play
5:30pm - Dinner
6:30pm - Family time

Free Time. Don’t forget to schedule in free time. When there are plenty of fun activities and outings, it can be easy to fill up your time. Free time gives everyone the opportunity to work on something they have an interest in or just some quality down time to recharge the batteries.