Monday, July 29, 2013

How do I teach my child to blow his/her nose?

This is a question we, as OT's, frequently are asked.  Children get runny or goopy noses a lot and rarely like having their noses wiped.  Parents and teachers get frustrated with the chasing and wiping routine and wonder "when does a child learn to blow their own nose?".  Blowing a nose is a rather abstract concept and difficult to teach.  You can tell a child over and over to "blow out your nose" and even demonstrate the concept repeatedly, but some children just don't get it.  So, how do we teach children to blow their noses?  First, blowing is a learned concept and needs to be taught to the child before we can work on blowing out the nose.  Try showing the child how to blow out of his/her mouth first.  Rip up small pieces of paper (great fine motor activity, as well) and have your child blow them off the table using his/her mouth, or even a straw.  Blow out birthday candles (with direct supervision) or get a pin wheel and have your child blow it.  Every time, use the word "blow" so that your child starts to associate the word with the action.
Once your child gets the concept of "blow", we can move on to blowing out the nose.  Play the blow the paper game again, but have your child clamp his/her teeth together to blow.  You can help keep his/her mouth closed with your finger or use some tape to keep his/her lips closed.  Tell your child to "blow out your nose".  It may take many attempts and several days/weeks before your child finally is able to get air to pass through his/her nose, so don't give up easily!  The end result will be worth the effort.  Remember to give lots of praise and even cheer your child's effort.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Painting with squirt bottles/guns

It's still summer, so get outside and have fun!  Here's a great and creative idea for painting.  Use a squirt bottle, or squirt gun.  Just add food coloring to the water and have your child squirt at a piece of paper.  We first attempted to squirt on pavement, but the color didn't show up.  You could try adding a lot of food coloring to see if that would make the color show on pavement, or just hang up some paper.  It's great for hand strengthening to have your child squeezing the bottle/gun and the kids think it's great. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Thunderstorm Schmuderstorm

As one of my kids was traumatized by falling trees when he was walking home with my husband just prior to a thunderstorm when he was 6, I have loads of personal ideas surrounding this issue.  Happy to report that 4 years later he is able to camp out with Cub Scouts during a storm unscathed!  Here are a few general articles discussing the subject:

Kids Health from Nemours - Thunderstorms
Parents Magazine article

Teach them the science...
Judging Lightning Distance by Thunder

Make a 'thunder and lightning kit' that may include flashlights, things to build a fort, special glow sticks, art, etc.  Have the kids help decide what goes in it.  Only get it out when there is thunder and lightning. My son is a Star Wars fan so calling him a Storm Trooper helped!

Have your child do creative art to help express his fears, free painting at an easel or on large paper taped to the wall is very therapeutic!  Some kids like to talk about why they used certain colors or how painting made them feel.  Putting together a social story about what is happening and what you are going to do when it happens is also a good strategy.

Try visualization techniques... have your child who is fearful close his eyes and pretend to put all his bad/scary feelings into a cloud, then take a deep breath and visualize blowing the cloud away.  Deep breathing is calming.

Make sure to provide physical contact if your child wants it, even if you think they're too old to be scared of storms!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Make books come to life

Kids love to hear stories, and most parents read books to their kids often.  So, have your books come to life.  Here, we read the story "Rainbow Fish" and then did a craft related to the book.  Older kids can cut out their fish and then cut out their fish "scales".  Younger kids can either rip the scales or simply glue them on the fish.  Find some really shiny scales (we used tin foil) to put on the fish.  If really ambitious, your child can make many rainbow fish to hang from his/her ceiling. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Painting with Toothbrushes

This is a great idea for many reasons.  Roll out a long piece of paper.  Have your child lay on their stomach to paint.  This provides great weight bearing through the upper extremities for strengthening.  In this pictures, some of the children are using paint brushes, and some are using tooth brushes.  Try using old toothbrushes for a different way to paint.  The kids will find it fun.  This is a great social activity, as well, if doing it in a group.  The kids will need to share and are able to talk to each other while they paint.  Older kids can collaborate on the picture they would like to draw, then divvy up the work. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Go to the Playground

Summer is a great time to head out to play.  Take the kids to the playground for some great gross motor play!  Playgrounds provide lots of room to run and jump and have fun equipment to slide on and climb on.  Swinging is a great sensory and coordination activity.  Improve muscle strength and coordination by climbing and using the monkey bars (although not a great idea to let little children dangle by their arms- provide some support).  Bring a ball and throw it to your child while he is sliding down the slide.  Playgrounds provide lots of gross motor fun, but also provide great opportunities to practice social skills with the other kids at the playground.  Allow your child to play with the other kids and have fun!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Remember to work on school skills this summer

Yes, we know it is summer, and it is supposed to be time to rest and recharge.  It's a time of easy schedules and time for fun.  However, don't forget to continue working on those academic skills needed for school.  Remember to continue writing and reading.  For the younger children, continue to use those fine motor skills needed for school. Have your child do some cutting every day (or at least once a week).  Draw pictures with your child.  For a variation, take chalk outside to the driveway and draw.  Have the older child write a story about what they have been doing this summer.  They could write a letter to a far away relative.  Be creative so that your child wants to color or write.  Make a mud pile outside and have them use a stick to write, or draw, in it.  Sand is another great medium to write in.  Just be sure to devote a little of each day to some sort of academic/ fine motor activity so that your child does not lose any of his learned skills. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Home Made Bouncy Balls

Home made bouncy balls!  Great fun to make, great fun to play with. 
Items needed:
2 tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp borax
1 tbsp glue
1 tbsp corn starch
food coloring

Pour the water and borax into a cup and stir until it is dissolved. 
Pour the glue, corn starch and food coloring into another cup and mix.  Then add the mixture in the first cup into the second cup.  Let stand for 15 seconds and then stir.
Once the mixture becomes difficult to stir, scoop some out of the cup and form into a ball. 
Have a great time playing with your home made bouncy balls!