Monday, October 1, 2018

Self-Regulation Skills for Toddlers

As a parent, you have likely observed that young children are not quite skilled in the art of self-regulation just yet (Tantrums!) and older children have some small capabilities (I can only handle so much before I explode!). While it is something that does develop as children mature, here are some ways to help strengthen self-regulation skills at home.

Red Light, Green Light

Most of us have played Red Light Green Light at some point, but here is a quick recap:
To play:
  • One person is selected to be the traffic cop.
  • All players stand on the starting line and the traffic cop has their back to the rest of the players. When the traffic cop says "green light," players try to run to the finish line.
  • When the traffic cop says "red light," they turn around and players have to stop in their tracks.
  • If the traffic cop catches a player moving, they are sent back to the starting line.
  • The first person to cross the finish line wins and becomes the new traffic cop.

How can you use this game to learn about self-regulation?

After you play a few rounds of the game the traditional way, switch things up. Have your child run when you say “red light” and stop when you say “green light.” This simple switch will challenge your child to actively think about and practice breaking a habit. The old rules are no longer and we have to change the way we think and process to adapt to the new rules. While on the surface, it may look easy, it’s actually some pretty serious stuff.

Mother May I? and Freeze Dance


Go ahead and try this same idea out with a variety of other games like Mother May I? and the Freeze Dance (switch up the rules - instead of taking steps in Mother May I, make it hops, do it backwards, etc. and in the Freeze Dance, dance with no music then freeze when it starts, etc.). 

Another way to encourage self-regulation is to allow for independence, so be sure to hand the over the reins to your child after they get the hang of it. You will get a moment to catch your breath and your child will enjoy feeling like they are in control. It’s a win-win!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Social Emotional Development: Ages 5 – 7 years

This area of development involves learning to interact with other people, and to understand and control your own emotions. Developing the ability to control your emotions and behavior is also a long process. Children 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 5-7 years of age.
  • Measures own performance against others
  • Feel more comfortable spending time at other places without you (i.e. a relative’s or friends’ house)
  • Continue to develop social skills by playing with other children in a variety of situations
  • Be able to communicate with others without your help
  • Start to feel sensitive about how other children feel about him or her

Red Flags
  • Not interested in playing with other children
  • Not able to share or take turns with other children
  • Dependent on caregivers for everything
  • Extremely “rigid” about routines, and becomes extremely upset when things are changed
  • Extreme difficulty separating from you
  • Is too passive or fearful, and does not want to try things other same age children are doing
  • Has extreme fears that interfere with daily activities


If you notice any of these by the time your child is 7 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, July 30, 2018

Social Emotional Development: Ages 4 – 5 years

This area of development involves learning to interact with other people, and to understand and control your own emotions. Developing the ability to control your emotions and behavior is also a long process. Children 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 4-5 years of age.
  • Show some awareness of moral reasoning, such as “fairness”, and good or bad behavior
  • Develop friendships
  • Express more awareness of other people’s feelings
  • Enjoy imaginative play with other children, such as dress up or house
  • Better at sharing and taking turns with other children
  • Enjoy playing games, but might change the rules as he goes
  • Stick with a difficult task for longer period
  • Controlling frustration or anger better
  • Listen while others are speaking

Red Flags
  • Not interested in playing with other children
  • Not able to share or take turns with other children
  • Dependent on caregivers for everything
  • Extremely “rigid” about routines, and becomes extremely upset when things are changed
  • Extreme difficulty separating from you
  • Is too passive or fearful, and does not want to try things other same age children are doing
  • Has extreme fears that interfere with daily activities


If you notice any of these by the time your child is 5 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, July 2, 2018

Social Emotional Development: Ages 3 – 4 years

This area of development involves learning to interact with other people, and to understand and control your own emotions. Developing the ability to control your emotions and behavior is also a long process. Children 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 3-4 years of age.
  • Share toys and taking turns
  • Initiate or join in play with other children
  • Follow simple rules in games, but will always want to win
  • Begin dramatic play, acting out being animals or taking a trip
  • Might be bossy and defiant
  • Show more independence
  • Experience a broad range of emotions (i.e. fear, happiness, jealousy, anger)
  • Become more even-tempered and cooperative with parents
  • May show attachment to one friend

Red Flags
  • Not able to initiate or join in play with other children
  • Not able to share with other children
  • Dependent on caregivers for everything
  • Extremely “rigid” about routines, and becomes extremely upset when things are changed
  • Has extreme difficulty separating from you
  • Is too passive or fearful, and does not want to try things other same age children are doing
  • Has extreme fears that interfere with daily activities



If you notice any of these by the time your child is 4 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, 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: