Why would a child need a developmental assessment?

I have always had a passion for development which was one of the many reasons I chose to be a child psychologist. Once I was exposed to the Griffiths assessment, I knew this was something I wanted to offer.

The Griffiths III assessment can only be offered by practitioners that are certified and thus go through an intense training. The Griffiths III has recently been revised and whilst it is a U.K. based assessment,  many of the individuals involved in the revision were South African. The Griffiths III is a unique assessment as it can be used for a wide range of ages (birth-5 years 11 months). It can even be used for babies who were born prematurely. Moreover, for older children, they are mostly unaware that they are being assessed as the assessment is fun and interactive. The assessment measures the following areas which can be seen below:Budding Minds Griffiths ||| Flyer

As seen above, the 5 key areas that this assessment measures are: Foundations of Learning, Language and Communication, Eye and Hand Coordination, Personal-Social-Emotional, Gross Motor. This assessment looks at all areas of development and thus offers an holistic overview of a child’s current functioning.

If your child is in the age bracket described above, they will benefit from this assessment as it allows for you to gage where they are developmentally as well as what their particular strengths and growth areas. Children hold great resilience and so if there are growth areas, interventions can then be made to ensure that each child has the tools to have the most optimal learning experience in school. The sooner interventions can be introduced, the higher the likelihood of a child being able to reach their full potential.

If you’d like to learn more about what it offers, the following video illustrates this further: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EWwG_6DTQU

If you’d like to inquire further or book an assessment, click on this link: Contact

7 Tips to Stay Cool when Your Child Acts Up

(Taken from ahaperenting.com)

 “Let it go. The moment you feel your hackles rising, let it go. If you let it upset you, what follows is anger, and to quote Yoda, that leads to the dark side…. Notice … and interrupt it. Find your own way of accepting things with grace.”  — Steve Errey 

All parents get angry at their children. There’s nothing wrong with feeling anger; anger is a message. The problem is that we can’t hear that message clearly while we’re angry. In the heat of the moment, we’re in fight, flight or freeze. And when we’re in “fight,” our child looks like the enemy. So we think the message is that we should vanquish the enemy — our own child!

In fact, the message when your child gets upset is that he needs your help, even if he’s being totally difficult. Maybe we need to put him to bed an hour earlier, or connect with him more, or simply make it safe enough for him to cry and show us all those tears and fears that are making him act out. But we can’t understand or act on that message when we’re triggered. Staying cool is essential to actually solving the problem, instead of making it worse.

So how can you stay cool when your kid acts up?

1. Notice that you’re getting annoyed. 

Sometimes, we don’t notice until we’re already on the dark side. But usually we can see our annoyance building, because we start gathering kindling. What do I mean? We start reviewing all the reasons we’re right and our child is an ungrateful brat. Once you start gathering kindling, it’s hard to avoid the firestorm. So as soon as you notice that your mind chatter about your child is negative, STOP. Drop your agenda (Just temporarily.) Take a deep breath to stop the runaway train of your anger.

2. Use your inner pause button. 

Even if you’re already well down the wrong path and you’re yelling, STOP. Take a deep breath and hit the pause button. Close your mouth, even in mid-sentence. Don’t be embarrassed; you’re modeling good anger management. Save your embarrassment for when you have a tantrum.

3. Take Five. 

Don’t try to address the issue with your child while you’re angry.  Calm down and get re-centered so you can actually hear the message behind your anger. Are you frightened about your child’s behavior?  Resentful toward your partner?  Exhausted and stressed out so you’re over-reacting to your child’s normal age appropriate behavior?

4. Feel the emotions in your body. 

I’m not suggesting that you swallow your anger, just that you resist acting on it. Instead, notice the anger in your body. Really feel the tightness in your belly, that suffocating feeling in your throat. Breathe into those tense places. As you simply open to the feelings in your body, you’ll feel them beginning to shift and melt. That’s the secret of mindfulness — once we sit with those emotions, just accepting them with compassion, they melt away.

5. Shift your state. 

Now, reframe your thoughts about the situation and you’ll find that you have different feelings. If you’re thinking that your child needs to be taught a big lesson right now, you won’t be able to calm down. If you remind yourself that she’s acting like a child because she IS a child, and that she needs your love most when she seems to deserve it least, you’ll be willing to shift out of anger.

6. Try a Do-Over. 

Tell your child that you’re sorry you got so upset, and the two of you are going to try a Do-over. This time, stay calm. Empathize. Listen to your child’s feelings and try to see things from her perspective. Resist the urge to blame, and instead look for solutions that work for both of you. If your child has damaged something — including a relationship — ask her what she might do to repair it. But always start by listening to her upset and empathizing.

7. Practice, Practice, Practice. 

I’m not going to lie to you. This is really hard work, one of the hardest things anyone can do. If you’re used to flying off the handle, you’ll be teaching your brain new patterns of self-discipline. That takes practice. Luckily, every time you resist acting when you’re angry, you’re rewiring your brain, so managing your anger gets easier every time you do it.

Sure, you’ll lose it sometimes. But if you just keep practicing, holding yourself with compassion and noticing the emotions, you’ll find that even when your child acts up, you’re more able to stay cool. At some point, you’ll realize that you rarely lose your temper any more. You’ll still have childish behavior as long as you live with children, but your reaction will be different. A lot less drama, and a lot more love.

 

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.

Cognitune have just published an article looking at the best all-natural alternatives to the medication often prescribed for ADHD. If you would like to have read, click on the link below: https://www.cognitune.com/best-natural-adderall-alternatives/

 

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.