Sensory Play: Let them Smell, Touch, Hear, Taste and See

Sensory Play: Let them Smell, Touch, Hear, Taste and See

There are a number of sensory play ideas that can be found on Pinterest or by following a number of different Facebook pages/groups. What is the big deal and really who has time for this???

When our little man was an infant or toddler, I often beat myself thinking I did not prepare enough activity for him. The fact is kids can have fun and enjoy a variety of different experiences without much work from you. Sensory-based activities are the smells, sounds, touch, taste, and sites your child is exposed to.

Sensory activities do not have to be elaborate. Children benefit from changes in the sensory input and output that they are getting. These activities can reduce boredom, calm children, or rev them up. You will soon discover what results your child will get from certain activities.

 

Here are some fun and easy ideas..

 
1. Making a fort

Throw a blanket over a chair or table and let your child explore.

2. Throw down a tunnel

You can get a collapsible tunnel that you let your little one explore through. For added fun, you can attach it to a fort.

3. Make your own ball pit

Throw a bunch of plastic balls in an indoor tent, blow up wading pool or large plastic container.

4. Climbing in and out of containers

If you have some empty containers your child can climb in to let him. There were many of times I would turn away for a moment and look back to see that our young man was sitting in the container of toys.

5. A bowl of ice cubes or snow

Let your child play with ice cubes or snow. You can give them a truck or some cars to drive through the ice or snow. You can offer mittens for them to use while playing.

6. Baking

Let’s be real! Baking for little ones is all about eating what you are trying to bake with. This is a great chance for them to learn how different things taste and a great opportunity to learn how to properly test food.

7. Water Play

Fill up the sink and let them play. I would throw a towel on the floor so I would not have to worry about a wet floor. This would (and still occupies) our young man when I was trying to cook or clean up the kitchen. He wanted to be involved so I would throw plastic containers and plates in the sink to be “washed”. Now at 6, he can legitimately wash dishes!

You can also add a number of items to the water to make it a different experience. A favourite in the Toddler Room I worked in was a plastic doll the children could wash. A favourite here was when we would throw in some plastic dinosaurs.

8. Goop

This is when you add 2 parts of cornstarch to one part water. Be prepared to have a fun experience!! When you touch it, it seems hard but when you pick it up it melts 🙂

I love Goop but this was not something our little man enjoyed.

9. Smelling Spices

It is just as easy as it sounds! Let your child smell different spices. If you are up for it let your child taste the different spices as well, Get your camera ready as there may be some weird expressions!!

10. Building with cans

I would put some cans on the carpeted floor and let him build with them. I would show him how to do it and then he would get creative. This did not always keep his attention for long but it changed his mood (and mine for the matter).

11. Make music!

Pots and pans are awesome for this. I would bring out a bunch of pots and wooden spoons and let him hit them. to reduce how loud things would get I would put a dishcloth inside the pot to reduce the noise.

 

These examples were very basic. You can get way more elaborate but at the end of the day if your child is happy or at least had a few happy moments your job is done for the day!!

 

The video below is a video I did to explain how to make sensory bins. It will help you establish your own bins that can help meet your child’s sensory needs. 

 

 

 

Parenting Styles: Conscious Parenting

Parenting Styles: Conscious Parenting

 

In recent years, there has been an overwhelming amount of information about how our parenting can impact our children. There are times when the information presented can make you feel like a failure as a parent. This feeling then affects your ability to parent.

I have had several families contact me to get clarity on all the different parenting styles. One style that is on the rise in the media and parenting networks is Conscious Parenting.

It is not uncommon for me to hear…”WTF is Conscious Parenting?”.

 

Conscious Parenting in a Nutshell

Conscious Parenting’s main focus is not the child. Say what??? You read that correctly. The main focus with this parenting style is the parent.

It took me a bit of time to wrap my head around the difference between positive parenting, mindful parenting and conscious parenting. The biggest takeaway I have had from my research and practice of the different methods is that they all focus on a positive approach to parenting.

Both positive parenting and mindful parenting focus on interacting with your child in a way that helps your child produce the positive behaviour because you are focused on molding your child’s behaviour using positive interaction or you are aware of (mindful) of your child’s needs.

Conscious parenting focuses on your feelings and the way you are dealing with certain behaviours. It takes the pressure off trying to fix your child and focuses on fixing your view or the way you handle a certain situation.

Tell Me More….

When you are parenting in a Conscious manner you are analyzing and reviewing how your feelings are gearing your reactions or the way you help your child with undesired behaviour.

You look for triggers. I am constantly asking myself..”is this my issue or his?”.

A great example of this is when he struggled with the beginning of grade 2. He would come home pretty upset and concerned that he was not going to be able to complete his work.

After much reflecting I realized I was not helping. My school based anxieties were preventing me from listening to him. All he needed was a safe place to vent and then he was fine but I dragged it out. I was trying to help him learn to write properly and it was becoming a battle. I backed off and listened. Helped when he asked for it and in time things got much better. He felt confident and flourished at school.

As a Sleep Consultant I have a number of parents that I work with that take it personally if their child is not sleeping well. I help parents reduce the stress they put on themselves to improve their child’s sleep and the work on things in a slow progressive manner. Even infants feed off their parents emotions. 

So to parent in a more conscious manner, it is important to work through your issues, identify ways that you can empower your child, set your child up with the tools needed to accomplish the desired behaviours and remove your emotions from the equation.

I actually find this style of parenting to be freeing and less exhausting. I can let way more things go and get the bottom of things way sooner. There is a lot of deep breathing going on.

Please feel free to reach out for support on how you may be able to parent in a more conscious manner. 

 

Dreams: Talking to Kids About the Good, Bad and Ugly Ones

Dreams: Talking to Kids About the Good, Bad and Ugly Ones

Dreams can be wonderful and downright terrifying! It can be very difficult to explain to children that dreams are not real. Even as adults sometimes it can be very hard to shake off a bad dream.

First lets, chat about what a dream is

Dreams are thoughts that occur during periods of sleep. According to William C. Dement, MD., Ph.D., and author of “The Promise of Sleep”, we dream during all stages of sleep; however, we recall more dreams during the REM stage of sleep.

Our children will be able to recall some of their dreams and may have a hard time understanding that they are not real. The best thing for us to do is to explain what dreams are in a calm manner at a time not associated with sleep.

How can you explain a dream to a child?

Children are very concrete thinkers who respond well to simple and clear statements. A good way for you to explain a dream to your child is to tell them that a dream is a story your brain tells while you sleep. You can explain that these stories are not real but can feel real.

How can you teach your child to cope with dreaming?

1. Empathize with your child

2. Remind your child the dream was a story while he slept

3. Let your child talk about the dream

4. Teach your child to take a deep breath and to think about something different using meditations.

5. If your child is struggling with their dreams you can try making or purchasing a Dream Catcher. A Dream Catcher is a Native American tradition where a catcher is placed above a child’s bed. Then you explain that the Dream Catcher will catch all her dreams and pass the good dreams on to her.

 

In my experience, a child seems to be better able to cope with and understand their dreams closer to 4 years of age. This is when the fun begins and children may love to fall asleep so they can dream!

Please feel free to send me a message or start a discussion in the form area regarding your child’s dreams.

 

 

 

Sleep Teaching: Why is this so hard??

Sleep Teaching: Why is this so hard??

Sleep Teaching or Sleep Training can be very frustrating.

I received the following note from a member a few weeks ago:

“This is not going well. Twice we were able to do the drowsy but awake but last night he wasn’t going on that crib for anything. Such a fight. Screaming and crying. Even transferring him was almost impossible.”

I hear this quite often. Typically, Night 4 or 5 is the absolute most difficult. You would think it would be getting much easier. The reality is that things “get worse before they get better”!!

When things are feeling impossible know that it is actually a good thing. This is an extinction burst! Once the burst happens you will slowly start to see change.

Unfortunately, your child’s sleep needs are ever changing which means you may be dealing with night wakings after you have had a few weeks of “bliss’. This can be very frustrating. It begins to feel like all you are doing is trying to figure out the next sleep related issue.

The following is a list of things that can have an effect on your child’s sleep:

1. Learning a new skill

2. Growth Spurt

3. Illness

4. Teeth

5. Separation anxiety

6. Not getting enough time awake during the day

My best piece of advice regarding this is to know that it is normal and that once you get comfortable with making minor changes as needed you will fly through all these changes. There will be some minor bumps but with time and consistency, your child’s sleep will get back on track.

As always please feel free to connect with me to discuss your child’s sleep concerns. You can send me a message through the website, write a post on a forum, or drop a note into the private Facebook group.

The Benefits of Imaginative Play

The Benefits of Imaginative Play

I really enjoy sitting back and watching our young man using his imagination. He is the type of child that will be sitting watching a movie then all of a sudden he starts to act it out. His imaginative play can be quite simple and sometimes he develops these grand stories that go along with his play.

What are the benefits of imaginative play?
1.  You get a real-life view of how your child is feeling or coping with a situation

If you sit back and watch or engage in your child’s imaginative play (letting your child take the lead) you will learn a great deal about how they are feeling. Play therapy is a tool that many therapists use with young children.

For example, our 5.5-year-old has been engaging in a great deal of play related to not being allergic to things. He has some anaphylactic allergies and some sensitivities. His play has indicated to me that he just wants to be able to eat what he wants. This play has allowed us to have many conversations about how “allergies suck but we can handle it”. This play gives him a chance to work out his frustrations with the allergies.

2.  You get to observe your child questioning his environment

Children are constantly watching and seeing how others react and interact in their world. Their minds are filled with wonder. Wondering why things are one way for one person but different for another person.

For example, our son pretends that he has another mother. He does not act out that he has another father. Should I be offended by this? No! This is his way of trying to figure out why his older brothers have 2 homes with 2 mother figures. We have had wonderful conversations about how lots of children have 2 homes. It can also lead to conversations about the different family dynamics that exist.

3.  You can role model how to act in various situations

Children are constantly looking to you for guidance in how to act or react in a situation. When children do not know what to expect in a certain situation you can teach them how to act or react by using imaginative play. This is referred to as role-playing.

Children learn a great deal through role playing. If your child is attending a doctors appointment you can role play with her what will happen and things that she may have to do like having her blood pressure taken. We recently had some role playing around getting a needle. Our son used to be great at getting bloodwork done. Well, needless to say, this is not the case anymore. I know he will have to get blood work in the next few months so we are preparing him through role-playing.

4.  You get a clear understanding of how your child views your behavior

Remember your child is often watching how you are behaving. If your child begins to act out in a certain way stop and check to see if your behavior is being mimicked. I have seen this a great deal as a parent and as a worker in the child development field. I have worked with a number of parents that were really frustrated with their child’s behavior. It became very clear that the child was acting just like his parent. Our little people can be a mirror of our behavior.

For example, I have the luxury of having people that come in to clean our house every couple of weeks. For awhile, I was noticing all the things that were being missed. I would make a statement that went something like this “man the cleaners…”. Fast forward a few weeks and when we walked in the door to a beautifully clean house my young man, then 4 years of age, would say “man the cleaners..” before I got a chance to even see what was happening. This made me stop and remember that having a cleaner is a privilege that I should be embracing and not be criticizing.

 

Hang on for the amazing ride!

When given the chance to use imaginative play, the sky can be the limit to what you learn and how creative your child will be.  Typically children begin to use imaginative play around the age of 18 months. You can sometimes see this at an earlier age. Usually, you will notice your little one pretending to be on the phone or using another object similar to the ones you use. When you start to see these behaviors, hang on and enjoy watching your little one be creative and explore the world with a different lense!

Feel free to join me in the forums to discuss your child’s imaginative play. I would love to hear stories that your child acts out.

Toddler Forum Preschool/School-Aged Forum