Posts found under: Occupational Therapy Archives - CDI Kids

Developmental Screeners. Have you had your child’s development checked?

294711029_ade8697076_bPediatricians follow a schedule of recommended visits for children from 0-18 years of age. at each visit, the doctor pays attention to the child’s development, growth and general health. But when it comes to developmental milestones and sensory integration a lot can be missed in such a short visit. In a perfect world, every child
would be evaluated not only by the pediatrician, but also by a team of pediatric therapists specialized in child development and sensory integration.

Imagine a child who does not crawl by the age of one. His parents may describe him as a calm child who likes to visually study the world around him rather than physically explore it. What about the toddler who bumps into things, or stumbles often? His parents joke that their little tyke is so clumsy, but his lack of coordination might be due to a poor body awareness, or difficulties in the sensory system, especially visual, vestibular (balance and spatial sense) or proprioceptive (registers force and where body is in space). How about the child who screams when he touches a viscous substance, such as liquid soap? Most parents, and doctors, would assume that this is just their preference or temperament, but an occupational therapist might see these behaviors as a red flag for sensory integration difficulties and/or developmental delays. When paired with developmental delays, sensory integration difficulties can amplify a child’s inability to meet his milestones.

Our current system does not provide an easy and systematic way to screen all children at regular intervals. Parents might not realize that their child is struggling until years later when problem arise usually in school. Perhaps the child will struggle with social relationships on the playground, will be labeled as inattentive by a teacher, or will struggle academically. Children, especially the ones who show more subtle processing issues and developmental delays, too often can fall through the cracks.  These delays can increase over time, making them even more challenging to overcome. Early intervention is essential to help support both children and caregivers. Screenings are essential to identify families and children who need support.

CDI offers screenings, assessments and evaluations for young children in the community. We believe that every child should have the opportunities to thrive. If difficulties are caught early, therapists can help families and children overcome or improve them.  Developmental screening are not meant to diagnose, but they do provide an overview of a child’s strengths and possible struggles. It’s a helpful way to bring awareness to issues that could possibly one day affect the child’s ability to thrive in a school, community or social environment. Assessments are in-depth and specific to a particular domain, such as speech and language, physical development, sensory processing, social-emotional (behavioral), and feeding. Evaluations are also very thorough, and assess a child’s overall performance and development. Therapists, through specialized observation and testing, can identify a disability or developmental delay. They look at the child’s language skills (both receptive and expressive), cognitive abilities, physical development, social-emotional development, self-help, and behavior.
CDI routinely offers free developmental screening at our Early Learning Center. We are also available for more in-depth assessment and evaluations in all domains. Our services are designed to help children meet their full potential. Please contact us for more information.


Helpful Tips to Avoid Meltdowns this Holiday Season

6552623355_4c8c8bcb1a_bIt’s hard to believe that November is already here! No matter what you celebrate, the season is busy and takes us outside our usual routines. This can be stressful for children as well as parents. Our kiddos often get lost in the shuffle when we usher them from one store to another, one party to the next, and then get too busy to allow enough time for relaxing activities. Ironically, we often lack the time to enjoy each other’s company at this time of the year. Here are some tips to ensure quality time between you and your child this holiday season.

• Plan shopping trips around your child’s natural rhythm. Malls and grocery stores can overload a tired child’s sensory system. To avoid meltdowns, plan your trips to the store when your child is most refreshed (e.g. after a nap or early in the morning). If that’s not possible, try to go to the store off peak hours. In order to keep your time in the store to a minimum, bring a list of all the items you need and stick to it. It will also be more tolerable for your child if you plan multiple short shopping trips rather than one long one.

• Bring snacks and water with you. Meals can get irregular when we’re busy. Nutritious snacks can help children get through an overly long day. Tantrums, however, are not always about food. We often think of sensory processing, poor sugar regulation and tiredness when we see a child’s meltdown, but hydration is just as likely to be a contributing factor.

• Bring sensory soothing items for your child. A little planning goes a long way. Prepare a sensory kit for your child, filled with activities that calm his nervous system down and help him regulate. Some children like to blow bubbles, others like to play with resistance bands, a soft piece of fabric, theraputty, or connecting tubes. Speak to your child’s occupational therapist about what will work for your child.

• Involve your child in all the cooking and baking. Children can feel ignored when their parents are busy preparing for the holidays. Involving children in baking or cooking is a wonderful sensory experience and provides quality bonding time. They can help mix batter, roll out dough, measure and pour spices—the possibilities are endless.

• Have your child help make cards or presents. A great way to avoid the holiday commotion, and create more meaning around gift giving, is to make cards and/or presents. It can be an opportunity to slow down and just enjoy the playfulness of creating something out of nothing. It also shows children that creativity is a gift that can be used to bring joy to yourself and others.

• Schedule downtime. Make sure that each day includes unstructured playtime. Studies show that children process their world through their imagination and play. It is their natural way to relieve stress and learn from what they have experienced and observed.

• Remember the sensory system. Just because we’re busy does not mean that our children’s needs change. Children should still stimulate their sensory system with activities such as jumping, swinging, crawling, smelling, touching, pushing, pulling, and chewing. Every day should provide a feast for their senses. Stimulating the sensory system helps with self-regulation.

• Respect their need for sleep. Sleep schedules become even more important during stressful and busy times. Respect their body’s need for predictable and regular sleep. Make it a priority for the whole family. Children who are well-rested will handle the holiday commotion much better. Sleep allows us to be more flexible and helps us process stress better. Speak to your child’s therapy team for tips on how to create an ideal bedtime routine.

We hope you find these tips helpful this holiday season. The CDI team is here to help you problem-solve through your child’s developmental challenges. Our therapists can provide individualized guidance tailored to meet your child’s specific needs


Crawling: A Developmental Adventure

Image-1Imagine for a moment a baby sitting on the floor. He looks up and sees a colorful object on the other side of the room. He gets on all fours, applying pressure through the palms of his hands all the way up to his shoulder-girdle, and thereby receiving sensory input through his knees and into his hips. His abdominal wall and back muscles work hard to stabilize him as he alternates stepping forward on his hands and knees. The coordination required for this type of bilateral movement is challenging to both his body and his brain. Learning to crawl plays an important role in a child’s sensory, physical and brain development.

From a sensory perspective, crawling opens up a variety of experiences. The sensory receptors inside a little one’s joints—part of the proprioceptive sensory system—receive input that is then forwarded to his brain. This information is filtered and helps stimulate new pathways that will help him filter the world around him through a sensory lens. The child receives tactile input that further contributes to this experience. He is exploring a variety of sensations through his skin: soft to rough, wet to dry, cold to warm, etc. Crawling also enriches the vestibular system, which is responsible for our ability to balance and helps us know where our body is in space. This allows him to balance as he travels from one side of the room to the other and to calibrate his movements to achieve his goal. This sensory information is necessary to build the strength and coordination needed for complex motor activity. It feeds valuable information to our brain, an organ always hungry for input.

Crawling is very beneficial from a physical development and motor skills standpoint. The repeated input, balancing, coordination, and strength needed to achieve this symphony of movements slowly strengthens every major muscle group. It also provides the basis for postural control by creating what is often referred to as “co-contraction”: muscles working together to create stability. In other words, it helps the child develop the core muscles needed for him to one day stand, walk, run, jump, climb, and ride a bike, as well as sit at desk to do school work. It’s also essential for hand development. The side to side and front to back movements practiced during crawling help develop dexterity and shape the arches in a child’s hands. This is essential for achieving different types of grasps necessary for grabbing objects, eating, writing, and drawing a picture worthy of Picasso.

A child’s brain is always changing. Crawling, a bilateral physical activity, requires the motor-coordination of both sides of the body. It is therefore an excellent task for a growing brain. In addition, this complex task allows the child to integrate some of the reflexes that he’s had since birth. In a way, mastering crawling tells the brain it no longer needs to hold on to more primitive reflexes. It also helps your baby develop a stronger, more efficient corpus callosum (the area of the brain that helps the two sides of the brain communicate and work together). This will help him one day perform school work or play sports that require crossing the midline—reaching for the opposite side of the body. It’s even needed for more academic activities such as reading and writing.

When it comes to crawling, and other essential motor skills, small developmental delays can have a big impact on a child’s development and wellbeing. Qualified therapists can catch developmental delays before they become a major challenge for your child. CDI’s therapy team understands how all the pieces of development fit together. Contact us at (818)888-4559 for more information or to schedule a developmental evaluation for your child.


Back To School Tips for a Great School Year

By the end of the summer, parents either look forward to or dread their children going back to school. The change of pace brings new challenges for families, especially if their children have sensory issues. With a little preparation, however, you can make this the best school year ever for you and your children.

Keep Things StructuredAll children, whether they have developmental challenges or not, feel safer around a firm structure. There is an innate feeling of safety around predictability, understanding the rules and knowing what comes next. Speak to your children about their daily routines. Explain things in terms of: first this, then that. Keep it simple, but predictable: First, we will go home and eat a snack, then we will do homework. When were all done with homework, you can play in your room.

Make Your Kids Part of the Decision ProcessWe all need to feel a sense of control, and children are no different. A great way to give them a sense of control and to help them develop critical thinking skills, is to involve them in the planning process for a smooth school year. Ask questions like: how can we make breakfast time easier?, how will you deal with homework?, what are someways we can all relax before bedtime? or what activities help you concentrate?If your child cannot answer these questions try guiding her by saying things like: I noticed that when you jump on the trampoline for ten minutes, you seem to concentrate much better afterwards. Do you think we should do that before or after doing your homework?

Allow for Down TimeExperts agree that children these days are too scheduled. Going from one activity to the next stresses a childs nervous system and impedes healthy development. After a day at school, children need time to be inside their own heads, to pretend play, to explore their world, and to be creative on their own terms. Keep after school activities to a minimum and instead encourage your child to play with friends, to play alone, and to enjoy quiet time. One caveat, though, is that screen time should not count as down time. Studies show that the benefits of down time are negated by too much time in front of a TV, computer, or handheld device screens.

Choose When Your Child Does Homework StrategicallyIf you want your child to do her homework without a fuss, youll want to prepare her for it.  Make sure that you provide water and snacks after school. Then allow her to wiggle and move her body before you try to sit her down for homework. After a whole day sitting down at a desk, childrens brains need movement. Activities that allow them to push and pull on their joints are particularly beneficial. Jumping on a trampoline, climbing playground equipment, doing an obstacle course, or rock climbing will do wonders to prepare her for homework time. Only when her needs for movement have been met, should you attempt to sit her down to finish her schoolwork.

Prepare for the Next Day the Night BeforeNothing ever goes as we expect. Prepare lunches, backpacks and clothing the night before. This way, youll increase the odds that youll leave the house on time and get the kids to school before the first bell. Enlist your children in this effort: With some guidance, they can help pack lunches and backpacks, and choose their clothes for the next day.

Have a Firm Bedtime RoutineWe talk a lot about the importance of sleep at CDI. More and more studies are coming out everyday showing how crucial sleep is to our development. Sleep helps solidify our memories, create new connections, integrate newly learned skills, and recalibrate our nervous system. It is needed at all levels of cognitive function, and physical rewiring and healing. Researchers recommend that a bedtime routine start with an early dinner (at least 3 hours prior to bedtime), no screen time (at least two hours prior to bedtime), as well as activities that help wind the body down, such as bath time, reading books, cuddling, gentle massage with lavender oil (if tolerated), or listening to soothing music. Once you find the nighttime  routine that works best for your family, commit to it.

Three Things that Went Wellwhen kids are tired they tend to focus on the negative. At the end of each day, always ask your child to list three things that went well. Of course this does not mean that your child cannot talk with you about things that might be bothering her at school, after all children need to know they can count on their parents for support. Its just a technique used to help reroute our human tendency to get stuck on the negative at the cost of the positive. Make it a family event, where everyone in the family has to share their three things that went well.

With these tips, your family should be off to a great start this new school year! CDI is always here to help you address any concerns you may have about your childs development and wellbeing.


5 Techniques to Reduce Biting in Children

Some children bite themselves or others when frustrated. I’ve seen a lot of this in children on the autism spectrum, but it can happen with any child–including those with sensory issues. Stopping this behavior can be quite a challenge for parents and caregivers. Let’s take a look at why children bite and what can be done about it.

Often the biting behavior is not due to aggression but rather by an imbalance to the sensory system and poor self-regulation. 2314757943_b34f59eaaa_qChewing and biting are sensory activities. They tap into the proprioceptive system that registers pressure in the joints. The resulting information goes to the brain for processing, which has a regulating effect on the nervous system. In other words, the child bites because he finds it soothing. Knowing this gives us clues to what we can do to address the child’s real sensory needs and reduce biting.

5 Techniques to Reduce Biting

1.  Jumping, pushing, lifting. Activities that place strong input on the child’s joint receptors will help lessen the need to chew and bite. Structure the child’s day, to make sure he gets to play on trampolines, does obstacle courses, and explores playground equipment. The more regular these activities become, the more they are likely to alleviate his need to bite himself or others.

2.  Provide plenty of oral experiences. Games and activities that engage the oral muscles will go a long way to reducing biting. Try to have him blow bubbles, start with soap bubbles with a wand. Then move on to blowing bubbles using a big straw in a bowl full of milk or fruit shake. The effort needed to produce bubbles will help provide strong input to his brain.

3.  Let him chew crunchy foods. Food items such as licorice sticks, carrot and celery sticks, pretzel sticks, crusty bread will provide great proprioceptive input. Some parents place a clean wet cotton rag in the freezer (make sure to wash the rag in non-toxic soap) for their child to chew on when he needs the extra input. If using food, always be mindful of the child’s food allergies, sensitivities and aversions. This should be pleasant and fun for the child.

4.  Growling, mad faces, stomping feet and emotional play. Kids love it when adults enter their play or mirror their emotions. You can help your child by acting mad, and stomping your feet when he is frustrated. Tell him: “ I can see you’re frustrated. When I am frustrated I feel like stomping my feet, I growl GRRRR!” Mirror his face, so he gets validated and acquires a vocabulary around his emotion. Come up with more ways to mirror and educate your child about his emotions.

5.  Pay attention to triggers. Changes in a child’s environment or interaction with others can impact a child’s nervous system. Stress reduces a child’s ability to react appropriately to a situation. The child has not yet acquired a toolkit to deal with his frustrations, new situation or sensory over-stimulation. Things like perfumes, lighting, crowds, or even lack of stimulation, can provoke the unwanted behavior in a child with sensory challenges. Parents and caregivers can look for patterns in their child’s environment to figure out what is triggering a melt-down or his biting. Often, an aggravating factor emerges. Figuring it out allows you to get to the root of the problem and fix it.

A child who bites is sending a message about his boundaries, his nervous system and his needs. By looking at biting as a form of communication, we can address the underlying issues that make a child bite himself or others. Occupational therapists have many tricks in their toolkits, sensory and otherwise, to help reduce biting behaviors.


Occupational Therapy, It’s Not Just Play!

DSC_2988Occupational therapists love to come up with clever ways to help their young clients thrive. Tapping into a child’s motivation is the key ingredient in our recipe for therapeutic success. Our sessions can look a lot like simple playtime: your little one’s therapist may be on the floor playing with your child, or pushing him on a swing, or creating elaborate obstacle courses. But there’s a lot going on beneath the surface: the therapist is challenging your child’s sensory system, gross and fine motor skills, visual-motor coordination, balance, and self-regulation.


You’ll often hear us referring to play as a child’s occupation. Playing is how children process the world and learn from it. By entering their world, we can gently guide children towards achieving their developmental milestones and better function. We engage them by being on the floor besides them, copying their activities, participating in their creative scenarios, and gently challenging them to communicate with us. This activity builds the trust necessary in any relationship, especially a therapeutic one. Although the therapist makes it look easy, she is calibrating her actions based on what she observes your child doing. She then guides the play to work toward his specific goals. Here are some uses for play in occupational therapy:

    • Increasing communication and interaction
    • Improving fine and gross motor skills
    • Increasing emotional tolerance and self-regulation
    • Improving sensory tolerance of a variety of inputs
    • Teaching social skills
    • Teaching turn taking
    • Teaching how to cope with transitions


Parents often ask if it’s normal for their child to want to swing for hours, or in some cases, to be so terrified of swings. The answer is always yes. A child’s ability to swing says a lot about her unique vestibular system (sensory system that communicates balance and spatial sense to our brain). A child should never be forced to swing. Swinging in occupational therapy is used as a modality–that is, a therapeutic tool. In other words, it is used as a way to recalibrate the sensory system. Because it has such a powerful effect on the nervous system, the therapist watches carefully for signs of distress, over-excitation and vestibular overload all the while engaging your child in the activity. Here are just a few ways swinging can be used to help a child:

    • Helps organize the sensory system
    • Prepares the brain for more structured activities
    • Calms the nervous system
    • Helps recalibrate the vestibular system
    • Increases spatial input to the brain
    • Engages core muscles
    • Increases muscle tone
    • Engages proprioception (pressure receptors in your joints that send message to your brain)
    • Increases focus

Obstacle Courses

Tunnels, stepping stones, bean bags, ball pits, giant tires, scooters, and ropes. Your little one leaps from one challenge to the next. It looks like so much fun. But behind the giggles, this activity helps your child in many important ways.

    • Improves gross motor planning and coordination
    • Exercises visual-motor coordination
    • Builds muscle strength and endurance
    • Increases core strength
    • Improves posture
    • Challenges balance
    • Strengthen the vestibular system
    • Increases input to the proprioceptive system
    • Organizes information processing in the brain
    • Increases a child’s ability to focus
    • Teaches child to follow directions
    • Engages listening skills
    • Encourages communication
    • Exercises the child’s problem-solving skills
    • Engages bilateral movement

Occupational therapists can play a key role in helping your child overcome developmental difficulties. They use play as a tool to build on your child’s strength and help him achieve his goals. Although therapy is purposely fun, it has a clear therapeutic purpose. Want to do some of our play activities at home with your little one? Check out our article on Cooking with Your Child, tips from an Occupational Therapist.


Tummy Time Tips from an Occupational Therapist

tummytimeBabies these days get a limited amount of opportunities to explore their bodies and their environment. Parents, rightfully, follow the APA guidelines for sleep positioning and place their little ones on their backs. Children also spend many of their waking hours strapped in devices such as car seats, strollers, or bouncy chairs. This can unfortunately delay development and increase muscular imbalances in growing bodies.

Tummy Time has been shown to promote development, and is recommended by The American Academy of Pediatrics. It involves your baby spending time on his tummy while supervised and engaged by you or other caregivers. It has been shown to promote development in several areas.

Some Benefits of Tummy Time
Tummy Time promotes muscular and sensory development, but also benefits mental and social growth as well:

    • Promotes gross and fine motor skills.
    • Provides opportunities to build strength against gravity.
    • Provides weight bearing opportunities for forearms, hands, elbows.
    • Increases body awareness.
    • Lengthens important muscle groups in the hips, abdominals, trunk and neck.
    • Promotes arch development in hands (necessary for fine motor skills).
    • Increases sensory input to joints and organs (proprioception), and vestibular (our body’s positioning sensory system).
    • Promotes sensory and neurological development.
    • Promotes visual motor coordination.
    • Increases opportunities to bond and connect with caregivers.
    • Increases opportunities for exploration and autonomy.

How to Introduce Tummy Time
Research shows that to help your child reach developmental milestones he should participate in 90 minutes of tummy time per day by the age of 4 months. If you have not started yet, or are nowhere close to that goal, don’t fret. Just start where you are at and slowly increase the duration. At first, you might want to break down this activity into small increments spread throughout the day.

    • Start early: while lying on the floor or bed, position your newborn infant on your tummy, promoting eye contact and closeness for a few minutes at a time everyday. Make sure you support his head. It’s okay if your baby fusses a little.
    • Always stay with your baby during tummy time.
    • Start in small increments of time, such as 30 seconds. Increase it little by little.
    • Try to distract your baby with interesting visuals. This will help increase his tolerance for this activity.
    • Make it part of your daily routine (e.g. do tummy time after each diaper change).
    • Read books while your baby is on his tummy.
    • Place your baby in front of mirror while in prone (tummy) position.
    • Get your older kids to do tummy time with your baby. It’s good for them too!
    • Parents and siblings are a baby’s biggest motivator, so get on the floor with him. Encourage eye contact & communication, sing songs, and be playful.

Occupational therapists and early intervention therapists are very creative when it comes to tummy time. Reach out to your CDI team for more ideas and on how to incorporate tummy time into your baby’s daily routine.

Tools to Grow
Science Daily


5 Qualities of a Strong Parent-Child Relationship

Relationship building takes time and effort. Parents must work hard at developing a strong and dynamic relationship with each of their children. Our children grow and change with each new stage of development, which challenges us to adapt to new rules and circumstances. Strong parent-child relationships, however, familyhave certain qualities that remain constant. They are built on safety, unconditional love, mutual respect, acceptance and flexibility.


Safety is at the core of bonding and self-regulation. It starts when a newborn infant’s needs are met by his parents. He learns then that his parents are consistently there for him, providing food, warmth, comfort, love and stimulation. Through these interactions, a trust is built that will last a lifetime. It forms the solid ground of the parent-child relationship and the child’s emotional wellbeing.

Unconditional Love

Unconditional love is a direct result of the trust that was built. Children need to know that that love will not falter through their ups and downs, and that their parents will always be there to support them emotionally no matter what. They need to feel that failures do not dictate whether they are worthy of the love they receive from their parents. Parents can nurture this quality by being emotionally available for their children, trusting them to explore their world, and allowing them to learn from mistakes.

Mutual Respect

Parents often feel that their children should respect them. The respect needs to be reciprocal. Children need to know that their opinion, feelings, and rights matter. Respect starts with good communication. When you truly listen to your child’s needs and let him know that he is being heard, you are showing respect to your child. When you acknowledge his individuality, even when it differs from yours, you are letting him know that you respect who he is. When you set clear expectations and provide explanations and guidance when they are not met, you are reinforcing the mutual respect between you and your child. When you expect him to treat you with kindness, and you show him the same consideration, you are fostering a relationship based on mutual respect.


Acceptance is an open-ended concept. It means embracing your child’s individuality, meeting him where he is at, and cherishing his unique qualities. It also means accepting his limitations and flaws while gently helping him through hurdles.


Flexibility means accepting that your child tomorrow might be different from who he is today. Only the child he is in that moment can guide your approach and your parenting. It also means parenting mindfully with an understanding that nothing in raising kids is ever set in stone. Techniques that work for someone else’s child might not work for our own children. Parents always have to adjust their parenting with the evolution of their child. When something does not work we keep looking for possible solutions. We should stay open to new approaches and possibilities.

The parent-child relationship is a complex one. A solid foundation can help make it stronger with each stage of child development. CDI’s therapy team is well versed in parenting techniques and creative approaches. We can help you find parenting solutions uniquely tailored to your child and your family’s needs.


The Power of Attunement

Attunement is our ability to be aware of and respond to our child’s needs. It is deeply connected to emotional attachment. Some children may have a very different temperament than that of a parent, or may not communicate affection in the same way, which can interfere with the quality of their emotional relationship. Parents can use a variety of techniques to increase their level of attunement.

Attunement starts with meeting an infant’s basic needs for warmth, food, sleep, safety and love. The gentle touch and voice used by a caregiver builds a child’s sense of security. A parent can pay attention to how their child feels by NOPH-00023303-001looking at how their little one responds to stimuli (e.g. likes to be touched firmly rather than softly, likes soft lights instead of bright lights, or doesn’t tolerate crowds). They can also look for and respect their child’s natural rhythms (e.g. needs to eat every 2 hours, needs naps every three hours, or needs a set bedtime schedule). Kids will thrive on structure and routine. Food is another area that can affect a child’s wellbeing. It’s helpful to pay attention to how food (especially new foods and additives) affects them—if you suspect a food allergy or sensitivity, speak to your pediatrician. Food allergies can cause a child to be fussy, overly tired, or hyper.

Children need your help to understand their own emotions. Mirroring and emotional labeling are techniques used to help children make sense of their feelings. They often respond to non-verbal communication first. If a child hurts himself and you respond with a big smile when he looks to you for comfort, you are unwittingly confusing his emotional lexicon. It is best if your face reflects the emotion they feel inside, followed by a label, such as: “Ouch! That hurts!”, and then reassure him. Children especially need help with strong emotions such as frustration and anger. A phrase like, “You’re mad! It’s hard to share your toys,” along with a facial expression reflecting his emotion, will go a long way to reassure him that emotions are part of normal life and therefore don’t have to feel unsafe. As they get older, you can help them to communicate more complex feelings.

Stories and narratives are key to emotional intelligence and communication. They help kids build empathy, and understand choices and consequences. Your children learn from hearing how others experienced a situation. The more you read and share your own stories with your child, the more they will understand themselves and others. Stories and narrative also help them learn to communicate how they feel.

Make discipline about their actions, not them. Kids need fair rules and consistent consequences. Tell them exactly what they did wrong, and why it was not acceptable. The consequence should be tied to their actions, not failure to meet your expectations. You should also sound firm, but not angry. The minute a child hears the anger in his caregiver’s voice, he is too busy dealing with his fear response to hear the lesson at hand.

Our society is very focused on goals and milestones, but it is the small stepping stones in between that make the experience memorable. Your child may have her limits but she tries hard every day. Take a moment to honor that, and praise her effort instead of the result. This helps create the foundation for respect, self-worth and resilience. It also helps you accept your child for what she is capable of doing in that moment.

And finally, attunement is built through respect: physical, emotional and spatial. We have covered parenting techniques to improve attunement to your child’s emotional and physical needs above, but what does respecting their spatial needs mean? It means letting go of your worries, letting your children have their space, and allowing them free-unstructured playtime and quiet time. We all need space in order to grow. Kids learn from their mistakes, and being allowed to figure things out for themselves. They feel safer when their parents trust them to explore, experience and grow.

We hope this article helps increase your understanding of your child’s individuality. CDI’s therapy team is great resource for parents who want to learn more about attunement, emotional attachment, mirroring, emotional labeling and parenting.


Self Regulation: Important Predictor of Success

What do you think of when you hear the term self-regulation? Parents usually envision a well behaved child: calm and obedient. For a therapist, self-regulation sits at the intersection53
of a child’s neurological and biological function, emotional regulation, and cognitive and social abilities. These abilities allow a child to function appropriately socially, emotionally and intellectually in a variety of environments. CDI’s approach to therapy is centered around helping children develop the underlying skills necessary for self-regulation.
Self-regulation is the first set of skills children need to master. It starts with the infant’s ability to process all of his/her senses, modulate sensations and self-soothe. When the nervous system is calibrated, we are able to adapt to changing situations, connect with others, communicate clearly, and focus our attention on the task at hand. We are less likely to show frustration, poor impulse control and inappropriate social behaviors. Children who master this crucial set of skills also show more organized thinking, focused attention, and better executive function. They are able to perform academic tasks that children with self-regulation challenges cannot.
Kids who struggle with self-regulation also experience poor emotional processing. These children don’t understand their own emotions, and are therefore unable to label them. This hampers their ability to communicate their feelings, thereby increasing their frustration and anxiety. They also lack the internal awareness needed to focus their attention and control their impulses. Transitions from one activity to the next are especially challenging for them, provoking fear and tantrum-like reactions. They also tend to be very sensitive to stimuli.
Children with sensory processing challenges often show self-regulation issues. Their inability to process their sensory world efficiently can make them appear hyper-reactive, unfocused or tuned out. It’s easy to interpret these states as poor behavior. Self-control, however, cannot happen without self-regulation. CDI’s therapists have many strategies to individualize treatments that will not only help with self-regulation but also improve emotional outcomes. Our sensory integration and relationship based approaches are especially well suited to help children facing these developmental challenges. Our treatments are designed to help improve sensory processing, develop bonding, emotional resilience and communication, as well as focused attention and organized thinking. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to participate in therapy to improve their child’s regulation at home, at school and in the community. Our therapists evaluate the whole child, including his/her ability to self-regulate. The therapeutic treatments we provide are individualized, and support the child and his/her parents and caregivers. Contact CDI for more information on self-regulation, or to schedule an evaluation for your child.
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