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Why an assessment can be the best gift you can give your child

Many parents hear the word ‘assessments’, but are unsure of what it entails.

There are various assessment processes which are based on the nature of the assessment. Each assessment evaluates a certain area of functioning, for example scholastic or cognitive. At Budding Minds, we spend a significant amount of time conducting the assessment and analysing the results in order to produce an overview of the child’s current level of functioning and what their optimal functioning could be.

An assessment is valuable because it provides a clearer understanding of your child’s current level of functioning in terms of their strength and growth areas. When planning interventions, we take into account a child’s strengths, and how these can be used to help their growth areas. We believe that children can be empowered to develop to the best of their potential when the appropriate interventions are in place. Interventions are therefore catered for the specific needs of your child, with a focus on the home and school environment.

This means that assessments are not only for children who experience barriers to learning but are for all children. Assessments can help all children because they provide information on how to better promote their learning environment so that they can reach their full potential.  Assessments can positively impact the learning environment, as children will have all the tools necessary to succeed because you and your child will know how their brain learns. Assessments can therefore be one of the many gifts you can give to your child.

For more information about the types of assessments we offer, visit our assessment page. To see what other services we offer, visit Services on www.buddingminds.org.

A Parent’s Guide to Play Therapy

What is play therapy?

  • Play therapy is individual intervention, which means the child has their own private space and someone who is there just for them. It offers the opportunity to work through difficulties through play, as well as talking. In using play, one engages the natural means through which children learn and express many of their feelings.
  • Therapy is not magic. It involves work for the child and the support of the parents. It can help to loosen the grip of emotional difficulty and lighten the weight on a child’s ongoing development. When needed, therapy is one among many gifts that parents can give a child who is struggling with his/her emotional world.

What is my child discussing in sessions?

  • You will naturally be curious about your child’s sessions and progress. The time in the play room is a special private time for the child and children should not feel that they need to report back to anyone, even parents. This can be difficult, but try to refrain from quizzing your child about a session.
  • Like all clients, children need confidentiality. You will receive some feedback, but your child also needs his/her own therapy space. It is likely that you will have to continue to support therapy, without knowing exactly what is going on in the sessions. You will need to trust the therapist.

Practical considerations

  • Play therapy is likely to mean a significant, fairly long term, financial, practical and emotional commitment on your part. This commitment should be thought about at the beginning. Sometimes the therapist will agree to a limited number of sessions, after which a parent feedback will take place and ongoing therapy will be discussed. For many children, a longer or more open-ended approach is recommended for the child to benefit from therapy.
  • Things may get worse before they get better. The child may be working through difficult feelings and sometimes it takes courage to ride this out.
  • Part of what is helpful about play therapy is the continuation of the relationship with the therapist and the reliability and regularity of the sessions. Therapy will take place once a week for 45 minutes. It is important for the child to arrive on time. This is a significant way in which parents can contribute to the therapy working well, otherwise the child may feel short-changed or that the therapist is not someone who is available for them.
  • If you have questions or concerns, rather arrange a meeting with the therapist than try to deal with it just before or after the child’s session. Talking about issues ‘over the child’s head’ may be upsetting for the child and there is often limited time between sessions.
  • Ongoing emotional assessment in the therapeutic process will result in an understanding of when therapy should be terminated. Termination of therapy is planned and may take place over a number of weeks. It is helpful for children to know how many more sessions there are before the goodbye session.
  • Therapists understand that parents have far more influence over their child than they do. That is why parent feedback sessions are important. An improvement in, or a continued good relationship between yourself and your child is a very much desired outcome of therapy.

The Difference Between Sensory Processing Issues and ADHD

When doing assessments, we often find that children are diagnosed with ADHD when in fact it is a sensory processing issue. Have a look at the article below to learn more about sensory processing issues and ADHD and how to distinguish between the two.

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By Peg Rosen

Constantly fidgeting and squirming. Invading personal space. Melting down in public. These can be signs of both ADHD and sensory processing issues. While they’re different issues, they have some overlap and can occur together. This table breaks down some of the key differences between ADHD and sensory processing issues.

 

ADHD Sensory Processing Issues
What is it? biological condition that makes it hard for many children to concentrate and sit still. An over- or undersensitivity to sensory input such as sights, sounds, flavors, smells and textures.
Signs you may notice ·       Seems daydreamy or confused

·       Appears not to listen

·       Is prone to tantrums and meltdowns due to lack of impulse control

·       Struggles with organization and completing tasks

·       Gets easily bored unless an activity is very enjoyable

·       Has trouble following directions

·       Struggles to sit still during quiet activities

·       Is impatient and has trouble waiting his turn

·       Is constantly moving

·       Fidgets and needs to pick up and fiddle with everything

·       Interrupts people and blurts things out inappropriately

·       Doesn’t understand the consequences of his actions

·       Plays roughly and takes physical risks

Oversensitivity:

·       Has trouble focusing; can’t filter out distractions

·       Dislikes being touched

·       Notices sounds and smells that others don’t

·       Has meltdowns, flees or becomes upset in noisy, crowded places

·       Fears for his safety even when there’s no real danger

·       Has difficulty with new routines, new places and other change

·       Shifts and moves around because he can’t get comfortable

·       Is very sensitive to the way clothing feels

Undersensitivity:

·       Constantly needs to touch people or things

·       Has trouble gauging others’ personal space

·       Seem clumsy or uncoordinated

·       Shows a high tolerance for pain

·       Plays roughly and takes physical risks

Possible emotional and social impact Trouble following social rules can make it hard to make and keep friends. Frequent negative feedback for acting out or not paying attention can impact self-esteem and motivation, making a child feel he’s “bad” or “no good.” Feeling anxious in or avoiding crowded and noisy places can make it hard to socialize. Peers may avoid or exclude an undersensitive child because he plays too roughly or doesn’t respect their personal space.
Professionals who can help ·       Pediatricians, developmental behavior pediatricians, nurse practitioners, child psychiatrists: Diagnose ADHD and prescribe ADHD medication. Psychiatrists will look for other issues like anxiety.

·       Clinical child psychologists: Provide behavior therapy to teach kids skills to manage their actions and interactions. Provide cognitive behavioral therapy to help with emotional issues related to their ADHD. Diagnose ADHD and mental health issues that may co-occur, such as anxiety. May also evaluate for learning issues.

·       Pediatric neuropsychologists: Diagnose ADHD and common mental health issues that may co-occur, such as anxiety. May also evaluate for learning issues.

·       Educational therapists and organizational coaches: Work on organization and time management skills.

·       Occupational therapists: Help kids learn coping skills for challenging situations. Provide sensory integration therapy that helps kids respond to sensory input in an appropriate way.

·       Clinical child psychologists: Provide behavior therapy to teach kids skills to manage their actions and interactions. Provide cognitive behavioral therapy to help with emotional issues related to their sensory processing issues. Diagnose ADHD and mental health issues that may co-occur with sensory processing issues. May also evaluate for learning issues.

·       Developmental behavioral pediatricians: Prescribe medication for anxiety to relieve panic responses.

What the school may provide Accommodations under a 504 plan or an IEP. Child might be eligible for an IEP under the category of “other health impairment.” Examples might include:

·       Extended time on tests, including standardized tests

·       A seat close to the teacher and away from distractions

·       A larger, more private work space to get work accomplished

·       A signal, nonverbal cue or picture card to get the child’s attention

·       Long assignments broken into smaller chunks

·       Worksheets with fewer questions

·       Written or picture schedules for daily activities

·       Movement breaks

Accommodations and/or occupational therapy, under a 504 plan or an IEP. Child might be eligible for an IEP under the category of “other health impairment,” especially if he also has ADHD. Examples of accommodations might include:

·       A seat away from distracting sources of noise

·       Sensory breaks

·       Physical activity to help regulate emotions, behavior and need for movement

·       Noise-canceling headphones or ear buds to reduce stimulation in busy places like assemblies

·       A chair that is a good fit for him so he can put his feet flat on the floor and rest his elbows on the desk

·       An inflated cushion or pillow so he can both squirm and stay in his seat

What you can do at home ·       Set rules and stick to them to help your child think before acting.

·       Create daily routines and rituals to provide structure.

·       Break tasks into smaller chunks.

·       Use visual prompts like checklists, visual schedules and sticky notes to help your child focus, stay organized and get things done.

·       Allow for breaks during homework and study time.

·       Create an organized homework and study area.

·       Help organize his backpack and check that it’s cleaned out regularly.

·       Give advance warning about changes in the schedule and explain what he can expect in new situations.

·       Track your child’s behavior patterns so you can anticipate tough situations for him.

·       Prepare your child for social gatherings or new situations so he knows what to expect.

·       Keep earplugs or ear buds handy.

·       Find outlets for your child’s energy such as exercise routines, sports or music.

·       Teach your child about dangerous situations he may not be sensitive to, such as bitter cold and burning heat.

·       Buy divided plates if he’s bothered when different foods touch.

·       Install and use dimmer switches or colored bulbs to modify lighting.

·       Shop with your child so he can pick out clothes that are comfortable for him.

·       Look for tagless, seamless clothes in super-soft fabrics.

 

Anger Management For Kids: Tips For Dealing With Explosive Children

– The Huffington Post Canada  |  By Alyson Schafer

Most parents are equipped to get through the inevitable tantrums and meltdowns of little kids. As children grow they gain patience, develop more skills, learn problem solving and then low and behold the tantrums subside. Or they don’t.

For some children the anger or explosiveness only gets worse as they age. It was one thing when they were 30 pounds and stomping their feet, but now they are big and can hurl a chair across the family room.

There seems to be real rage in their bellies. Scratch the surface and BOOM -– they go off. The frequency, intensity and duration of these episodes goes beyond the explanation that your kid is simply having a bad day.

If you have a child who is destroying property, physically attacking others or repeatedly berating themselves, take matters seriously. Here are some ways you can deal with the situation.

Educate Yourself About Anger 
Anger is called “the fighting emotion.” We activate our anger when we want to go to battle to fight and win. The fight, flight, freeze (F3) response in our nervous system kicks in, which increases our heart rate, sends blood to the muscles so they are stronger and accelerates our breathing so we are good and oxygenated.

These massive bodily sensations are enough to overwhelm a child. It’s a big biological event that can even feel scary -– like they are out of control.

Anger is actually a secondary emotion. Your child feels another emotion first, which is the primary emotion. And that is the one you need to discover and learn from. It’s likely one of these five triggers:

  1. Threats to self-esteem (rejection, victimization, rights removed or infringed on) that come from these common childhood experiences:
  • The feeling a sibling is preferred
    • Inconsistent enforcement of rules (this is not fair!)
    • Public correction that embarrassed or humiliated them
    • Offering help or instruction when it wasn’t needed (micro-management)
    • Seeing an injustice done to another
    • Loss of sense of control or a sense of autonomy
    • Lack of understanding of others (low empathy)
    • Others reject or deny what the child is genuinely feeling (misunderstood)

    2. Biology: hunger, low blood sugar, tired, in pain

  1. Stress/Anxiety (illness, impending divorce, moving schools, new caregiver, upcoming test)
  2. Sadness (due to death or big change in their life)
  3. Frustration (communication problems, lack of dexterity or knowledge, perfectionism and hatred of mistakes, believing that asking for help is failure or inadequacy)

If you can identify and solve the primary feeling, your child’s need to fight with anger would not be necessary.

Basic Health Check
Double check your child is eating well, sleeping sufficiently (Do she snore? Could it be undiagnosed sleep apnea?) and reduce their stress.

Is he over-scheduled? Is he feeling undue pressure to excel? Parents are notoriously blind at seeing childhood stressors but they abound.

During a Blow Up, Be Calm and Empathetic
It’s very easy to get pulled into a child’s state. Instead, you have to act in calming ways to help her de-escalate.

It’s very easy to look fed-up and roll your eyes. You are so tired of their antics. But a cold, terse composure that is meant to brace yourself for the storm only adds fuel to her fire.

Instead, communicate calm, loving support. Watch your body language. Keep your tone sweet and quiet. Your facial expression should be one of empathy and compassion.

If he will allow you to offer comfort touches (rubbing his back or a hug), do it. Show that you understand he must be deeply upset to be this angered, but keep your words sparse. Give him space and time to re-group.

Keep a Log Book 
Write a log after each blow up. Record the events leading up to the angry outburst and how it finally resolved. Be sure to record not only what your child did — but also what you and others did.

Assign an intensity rating from 0 to 10. Watch the clock to see how long the blow up lasted and record that, too. After a week or a month, can you see a theme?

As you embark on making changes, you’ll want to know things are improving. The blow-ups won’t go away over night, but if they are less frequent, less intense and shorter then you are making headway! Don’t give up too soon.

Talk About Triggers In A Time Of Calm
When children are angry, it is not a good time for productive discussions. You’re best to save your talks for a time when she is calm. Re-visit the incident that made her so mad and ask her to help you understand what was so distasteful that got her so angry. Then listen.

Listen with a goal of understanding your child and her perspective. Don’t defend or correct.

For example, if your child shares: “You let Bella go on the iPad first. She always gets to go first”. Instead of correcting and defending yourself with “that is not true, you went first last time” simply acknowledge her feelings and beliefs.

“So you feel you get passed over for your sister all the time? That I give her more privileges than you? Like going first on the iPad yesterday? Is that right? Well that would not feel very good at all! If I thought that, I would be hurt and hopping mad too!”

Proper Modelling 
Children need to learn that using aggression is not the best way to resolve issues. If you use anger as a means to get your child to listen or behave, stop immediately. You are modelling this behaviour and he is imitating you.

Teach Problem Solving
Teach your child how to solve the problems he is having through positive means. “Besides getting mad, how else could you share that you feel unfairly treated, and how else could we assure that each child gets their turn going first on the iPad?”

Try to generate a few solutions: alternating days, mark turns on the calendar, leave a sticky note on the iPad saying whose turn is next, rock paper scissors, roll dice, etc. Decide on one solution to try for a week and see if things improve. If they don’t, try another solution.

They Have Control Over Their Anger -– It’s A Choice.
Children believe that other people make them angry and that they are just innocent victims of these strong emotions that take over their bodies. Teach your child about the fight, freeze, flight response so they can recognize when they are getting triggered.

Teach her relaxation techniques: breathing exercises, taking a warm shower, going for a walk around the block, listening to calming music, tensing and releasing their muscles.

Challenge Rigid Black-And-White Thinking 
In a time of calm, help your child to challenge his own rigid thinking. Young children often see the world in black and white with no grey scale. Things are right or wrong, good or bad, always or never. It’s part of growing up to see more sides to things and add complexity to our beliefs.

“You are not either a good boy or a bad boy — you are just lovable you, wonderful the way you are.”

“Instead of rigidly thinking your sister is always beating you, you can choose to think an alternate softer thought: many times my sister gets her way, but sometimes I do, too.”

Encouragement 
Children who get angry are discouraged and we need to help fill their bucket so they feel good about themselves and improve their relationships with others in the family.

Look for their strengths and share your appreciation for what they bring to the clan. Increase your positive interactions and have fun together. Notice their gentle side.

If things don’t improve, seek out the help of a family counsellor. You’d be amazed what a few sessions can do to improve matters.

 

How Do Children Learn Right from Wrong? They learn what they live.

– Taken from aha.parenting.com (Click to see actual article)

“Dr. Laura….How will they know right from wrong when they are never taught something will happen when they do wrong?”

So today, let’s think about how children learn right from wrong.

Little ones want what they want, and they like to be in charge of themselves. But they also depend on us, the parents who care for them, and they trust us to have their best interests at heart. They may not always do what we say, but they will always, eventually, do what we do. So most of what children learn about how to behave is from what we model.

That’s why, regardless of what you consciously teach your child, he will learn what he lives.

  • When we cheerfully help them clean up the spilled milk, they learn that it isn’t an emergency, so they don’t need to cry or to blame, and can simply solve the problem.
  • When we offer understanding as we say no to their requests, they learn that they won’t always get what they want, but they get something better — a mom or dad who always understands.
  • When we’re there to listen, they learn that life can be tough, but they can always recover and find a better way.
  • When we delight in them, they learn that they’re of value.
  • When we’re forgiving of their mistakes, they learn that no one’s perfect– but they’re more than enough just the way they are.
  • When we apologize and make amends, they learn to repair the damage they do.
  • When we try to see their side of things, they try to see our side of things, and they don’t want to disappoint us.
  • When we’re compassionate in the face of their upsets, they learn that emotions aren’t an emergency and can be managed.
  • When we share with them, heart to heart, our concern that the dog is hungry because they forgot to feed him, they learn that they never want to hurt a helpless creature again.
  • When we help them come up with a system to remind themselves to feed the dog so they don’t forget in the future, they learn to manage themselves.

Conversely,

  • When we punish them for forgetting to feed the dog, they get angry at us and at the dog, which doesn’t motivate them to want to care for him.
  • When we scream at them, they learn that tantrums are ok, and they learn to scream at us.
  • When we punish them, they learn that’s how to solve problems — people with more power are allowed to use it against people with less power.
  • When we swear at another driver, they learn incivility, not to mention some embarrassing words.
  • When we lie to someone on the phone when they’re listening, they learn that dishonesty is ok.
  • When we lie about their age to get them into an amusement park, they learn that cheating is ok.
  • When we speed in the car, they learn that breaking the law is ok if we don’t get caught.
  • When we promise to play a game with them and then renege, they learn that promises can be broken.
  • When we ignore the feelings that drove their behavior, they learn that there’s no one to help them with the big scary feelings that pop out and pressure them to “do bad.”
  • When we spank them, they learn that bigger people are allowed to hit smaller people.
  • When we punish them, they learn that they’re bad people — bad for doing wrong, bad for having the bad feelings that made them do wrong, bad for being mad at us for punishing them, and bad because they know they won’t be able to stop themselves from doing it again.

Children don’t learn right from wrong by being punished, any more than they learn red from blue by being punished. Kids learn when we show them red, and also when we show them kindness, responsibility, generosity, honesty, compassion, and all the other things we want them to learn, in action, every day.

When children feel close to their parents, they want to “follow” them. Going against their parents would be going against the most important people in their lives. That’s why connection is 90% of parenting. Until the child feels the connection, she isn’t open to our direction.

Of course, the prefrontal cortex that can keep strong emotions in check to help your child behave is still developing until age 25, so your child won’t always make the right choice. But if you’re parenting with loving guidance, at least she’ll be more likely to WANT to make the right choice.

Do you have to be perfect?  No, of course not. But then you can’t expect your child to be perfect, either.

Modeling self-forgiveness and making amends is part of teaching your child to repair the inevitable small ruptures that happen between humans, even when we love each other. It’s part of how you keep your child connected and wanting to “do right.”

But what if your child knows right from wrong and still keeps choosing “wrong”? That’s our next post. In the meantime, why not go hug your child?

How to Un-Entitle Your Kids in 6 Easy Steps

– taken from mom.me (Click to see actual article)

I love making beds. I’m a rarity, I know, but there’s something satisfying about the simple act of making a bed. I love making beds so much that I tend to function on autopilot in the morning. I travel from room to room, making beds and restoring the appearance of calm to each bedroom.

Sounds innocent enough, right? Making beds gives me a few moments of focus in the morning, while I run through the mental to-do list and prepare to tackle the day. What’s the harm in that?

Cut to the day I’m running late and yell up to the kids to make their beds and meet me in the front to get shoes on and out the door on the double. They stared back at me with blank faces. While they often thank me for making their beds “neat and organized,” and are generally filled with gratitude, I completely forgot to step back and show them how to make their own beds. So when I yelled up for them to take on the task for me that day, they didn’t know where to begin. Oops.

Needless to say, we altered our plans and spent some time practicing bed-making. Now they take pride in making their own beds.

Are my kids “entitled” because they didn’t make their own beds until recently? No. But in taking on tasks they are capable of completing simply because I enjoy those tasks, I rob them of the chance to learn a new skill and build more responsibility into their lives.

When parents routinely do everything for their kids and put their kids first every single time, entitlement can occur. Over time, it can reach unbearable levels. We have to step back and guide our kids toward independence and responsibility instead of running in for the save, fixing what needs fixing and answering every demand.

In her new book, “The Me, Me, Me Epidemic,” Amy McCready takes on the problem of entitlement with a positive spin. Entitled children can trigger feelings of frustration and anger in exhausted parents who are constantly stretched too thin. That can lead to yelling and excessive punishments, strategies that typically yield little reward and cause children to fear punishment instead of making better choices.

“When kids act up, they’re doing more than pitching a fit over a candy bar (or permission to go to a party),” McCready says. “Without even knowing it, they’re on a mission to achieve the belonging and significance they crave.”

Instead of punishing undesirable behavior or constantly rewarding positive behavior, McCready outlines specific strategies grounded in positive parenting to help empower kids to grow into responsible and un-entitled adults.

“The truth is kids everywhere—from toddlers to teens—are ruling the roost and they’re not about to abandon their posts without a fight,” she says. But there are ways to make the transition away from entitlement as a family.

Check out these great tools from McCready’s “Un-Enititler Tool Box”:

1. Mind, body, soul time

Parents today seem to thrive on being busy. There is always something that needs doing or somewhere to be. But in all of this doing and going, it’s very difficult to connect with our children in a meaningful way.

It might feel like your kids are constantly interrupting you at inopportune moments, but, in the mind of a child, it’s an attempt to connect on a deeper level.

McCready suggests setting aside 10 minutes of complete focus for each child, at least once (hopefully twice) each day. Turn off the distractions and connect with your kid on his level. If he wants to make paper airplanes, make them. If he wants to dance in the rain, go for it. Establish a meaningful connection by being present and focused during that time.

2. Sail out of the wind

Do you ever feel like parenting is really just a series of power struggles? You’re not alone. Kids want things and they push boundaries to see how far they can get you to bend. That’s normal. Pushing back, however, is not the answer.

A power struggle over an ice cream cone can turn into a full-blown screaming match when parents go back and forth with kids. McCready suggests sailing out of the wind, instead. Remove yourself from the power struggle. Make a decision. Stand by the decision. And leave the power struggle behind.

3. Adapt the home environment

I think most parents wish for a cleaning fairy at some point, or at least for a few extra hands when it comes to prepping meals, cleaning the house and getting various chores done. The good news is that kids are great helpers when we empower them, especially if we adapt our homes to make them kid-friendly.

I keep my plates and bowls within reach of my little ones so that they can prepare their own snacks and help set the table. All toys are also organized at kid level so that they can be responsible for cleanup.

Take a look around your home from the viewpoint of your child. Make the necessary adjustments to empower your kids to help out in the home.

4. Ditch the ‘don’t’

Kids hear a lot about what they shouldn’t do each day. Sometimes we do this to keep them safe, other times we do it to save time or get things done. Whatever the reason, parents dish out a lot of “don’t.”

Reframe your thoughts and replace “don’t” with “do.” Empower your kids to take on more responsibility and learn new tasks by helping them learn what to do.

5. Take time for training

The bed-making fiasco reminded me that I need to think about things my kids can do, but I haven’t necessarily taught them to do. They have always enjoyed folding laundry with me, so they are great helpers when it comes to laundry day. But I find that teaching them how to load the dishwasher, how to scramble the eggs and how to make the grilled cheese makes them feel confident and increases their responsibilities in the home.

6. Create a decision-rich environment

This is a big one. Kids don’t have a ton of choices on a daily basis and that can be frustrating. A great way to stop over-parenting is by allowing your kids to make their own choices as much as possible.

Let them choose little things, like how they want their hair and what outfits to wear, to bigger things, like what chores they want to take on. My daughter mopped my bedroom for me the other day because I listened when she said that she wanted to learn how to use a mop.

Take the time to teach and empower your children, and then step back and watch them grow.