Monthly Topic - Center for Pediatric Therapy
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Monthly Topic

Winning & Losing Games

Did your family get any new games during the holiday season? We all like to win at games but for children with regulation difficulties losing can be especially challenging. Here are some tips to help your child navigate win/lose situations.

Talk about the potential of losing ahead of time. Discuss it in a matter-of-fact way, “Sometimes we win, sometimes the other person wins. Everyone likes to win, but we’ll be OK if we lose. Games are for fun.”

Be a good model. Clearly discuss how you reacted when your turn was skipped, or your piece was sent back to Start. Identify how you felt disappointed or frustrated, but you took a deep breath to stay calm. Also talk about what you did not do, such as stomp your feet, hide your face, or yell at the other player.

Praise your child for what is going well. “Thanks for telling me I made a good move. That made me feel happy. That was a friendly thing to say.”

Practice what to say at the end of a game, regardless of who won. For example, “Good game.” or “Thanks for playing with me.”

Use sports statistics to talk about winning and losing. Talk about how your favorite sports teams lose some of their games, or how specific athletes handle making mistakes or disappointments during a game.

Take a step back if you can see your child beginning to escalate during the game or as an impending loss draws near. Have him take a deep breath or do some wall push-ups. Remind him of the winning/losing concepts you discussed before the game. Taking a quick break may help your child gain perspective and avoid becoming dysregulated.

Try a “Lose to Win” sticker chart. Make a chart with 4-8 boxes. If your child appropriately handles losing a game without escalation, he can place a sticker in one of the boxes. When the chart is full, he can choose a small prize for learning to lose with grace.

Indoor Fun With Obstacle Courses

Benefits of Obstacle Courses

  • Obstacle courses provide a fun and creative way to support the development of sensory and motor skills.
  • You can construct a course inside your home using common household items such as chairs, tables, boxes, pillows, and blankets.

Getting Started

Give your child the opportunity to design and plan a 4-6 step obstacle course to encourage motor planning.

  • Brainstorming an idea facilitates ideation skills.
  • Organizing the steps encourages planning skills.
  • Moving through the steps and completing the task challenges your child’s motor performance.

Get Moving

Movement-based activities that include a change in head position provide input that stimulates your child’s vestibular system.

  • Log rolling, jumping, somersaulting, yoga poses, or using a therapy ball to bounce on or roll over are great whole body movement ideas.
  • Encourage your children to crawl over, under, around, and through obstacles.

Heavy Muscle Work

Including heavy muscle work throughout the obstacle course will provide proprioceptive input and complement the movement challenges. Include activities such as:

  • Crawling or crashing onto pillows or couch cushions.
  • Pushing or pulling heavy items can be a step in the obstacle course or part of set up and clean up fun.
  • Completing different animal walks (e.g., bear, frog, crab, and penguin).

Balance Challenges

Include activities that challenge your child’s balance during the obstacle course such as:

  • Walking over pillows or on uneven surfaces.
  •  Balancing on a pillow.
  • Making your own balance beam with a rolled up towel or tape on the ground.
  • Hopping on one foot.
  • Walking with eyes closed (if safe).

Extra Tips

  •  Include a theme for the obstacle course such as pirates, princess, or pretend the floor is lava.
  •  Incorporate fine and visual motor skills, such as having your child write or draw a list of the steps, complete a block design as part of the obstacle course, or throw bean bags into a bucket.
  •  Encourage speech and language skills with concepts such as around, under, and over.
  • Remember to label steps as you go.

At CPT, we provide one-on-one therapy services for children in the Fairfield, Westport, and Wallingford, CT areas. We are here to assist if your child has sensory issues, poor coordination, or clumsiness. Do not hesitate to reach out to us to learn more bout our therapy options.

Contact the Center For Pediatric Therapy Today.

Click here to download/print: Indoor Fun With Obstacle Courses

Gardening With Children for Skill Development

Gardening Engages All The Senses

Gardening is a great opportunity for sensory-motor exploration for children. The activity supports fine and gross motor muscle development, sequencing, planning, following directions, and sensory stimulation – feeling the dirt, smelling flowers and plants, and tasting fresh fruits and vegetables.

How to Get Started Gardening With Your Child

  • For sequencing, planning, and following directions, break the task into steps for your child.
  • Start with gathering supplies. If able to write, have your child make a list of what will be needed. This can help them stay organized during the task.
  • Once all your supplies are gathered, put items that they can safely lift in a wagon or child-sized wheelbarrow. This will provide your child with heavy muscle work as they lift, push, or pull materials
    • Remember, heavy work can be calming and organizing for our bodies.
  • Prepare for and enjoy the mess

Time for Planting

  • Planting is a wonderful proprioceptive and tactile experience for children with lots of digging and feeling the dirt – and, yes, even wet mud.
  • Have your child start by digging a small hole.
    • If the feeling of dirt is too much for your child, keep a towel nearby to wipe hands-off, have them use a shovel, or wear gloves.
  • Give your child a spoon to dig in the dirt and scoop with to improve utensil use.
  • You can let your child plan small seeds one by one into the soil promoting a pincer grasp using their thumb and index finger.

Remember to Water

  • Watering the plants provides multiple opportunities for strengthening muscles and heavy work. 
    • Have your child lift and carry a watering can or have your child pull out the garden hose and help wind it up when done.
    • Try squeezing a spray bottle to water a plant to strengthen hands and work the same muscles needed for holding a pencil.
  • Your child will also have the opportunity to work on body awareness and force grading – how much do they need to tip the watering can for the water to come out, how far and hard do they need to pull the hose?

Caring for Your New Garden

  • Weeding facilitates dexterity and grip strength.
  • Practice scissor skills by snipping at the grass, weeds, or leaves with age-appropriate scissors.
  • Encourage your child to get down to the ground to garden or practice tall kneeling, half kneeling or squatting, to reach for materials.
  • While admiring their hard work challenger their balance to have them walk on uneven ground or avoid stepping on plants.
  • Make caring for your garden part of your daily routine to help structure the day

Contact the Center For Pediatric Therapy if you are interested in learning additional techniques and methods on how to improve your child’s coordination and more. We provide pediatric therapy services for all age groups in Fairfield, Westport, and Wallingford, CT.


Click Here to Download or Print An Easy to Read Version of Gardening for Skill Development

Speech & Language at Mealtime: Preschoolers

Why Practice During Mealtime?

Mealtime is a natural part of the day and a perfect time to practice speech and language skills with your child. Mealtime provides a regular routine which allows for consistent, repetitive, and multiple opportunities for using the same language prompts. Even just picking one meal of the week to focus on speech and language skills is helpful.

Practice While Cooking Together

  • Cooking together provides opportunities to practice motor, cognitive, and speech skills. Narrate each step with simple language.
  • Give your child a job to do, such as putting the plates on the table or finding the requested items in the refrigerator.
    • Start with one step directions and work up to two step directions.
  • Label your actions and the activities with words in order to model vocabulary. For example: mix, stir, bake, fry, sizzle, crumble, half, divide, measure, pour, cut, peel, melt, boil, etc.

Practice While Setting the Table

  • Identify which dishes or utensils are needed. Ask your child to name, locate, and gather all of the items for the table.
  • Count out how many of each item are needed.
  • If working on articulation, be sure to highlight the items which contain the targeted speech sounds.
  • Ask and answer wh- questions, such as “Where do we put the forks?”
  • Encourage the use of prepositional phrases, such as “next to the plate” or “on top of the napkin.”

Take Turns

  • Conversations around the table are a great opportunity to practice speaking and listening. Give your child the opportunity to ask and answer questions, as well as watch and listen to your conversations with others.
  • Demonstrate how to take turns, wait for your turn, and lead the conversation.
    • Ask your child whose turn it is – this prompts the child to use phrases, such as “my turn,” “your turn,” or “mom/dad’s turn.”

Practice Sitting

  • Learning to sit and listen is an important step in communication development.
  • Some children may find it hard to just stop and sit with family, but mealtimes naturally provide the structure for sitting and listening.
  • Other family members can provide a model of appropriate ways to sit. Verbally acknowledge how others are sitting still.
  • Use a timer to help show your child how long they need to sit for the meal. Offer rewards and praise for good sitting and listening.

At CPT, we provide one-on-one therapy services specifically designed to your child’s needs. If your child is a picky eater, has food texture aversion or finds mealtime challenging, we are here to help. To learn more about our therapy options do not hesitate to reach out to our team. Our services are available in the Fairfield, Westport, and Wallingford, CT areas.

Contact the Center For Pediatric Therapy Today.

Click here to download/print:  Speech at Mealtime – Preschoolers

Speech & Language at Mealtime: Toddlers

Why Mealtime?

Meal and snack times are important and consistent parts of your child’s daily routine. These natural opportunities are perfect to provide simulating activities for your child’s language development throughout the day.

Give Smaller Portions

Giving smaller portions provides the opportunity for your child to verbally request “more” of their snack or drink. You can teach your child the simple sign for “more” and consider this as an acceptable way to request more yummy snacks. Rather than piling your child’s plate or bowl with an entire serving, give only a few bites at a time so that they have the opportunity to request more of the food. Move other portions and drinks out of their reach so that your child has to engage (communicate) to obtain the snack or drink. Don’t forget to praise your child for making a request – this is how they know we want them to communicate or participate. Present the additional food item as soon as it is requested as a reward for good talking.

Making Choices

Give your child as many opportunities as possible to indicate their own choice about what to eat for breakfast or a snack. For example, offer two (perfectly acceptable) options and let them indicate their choice. Hold two choices in your child’s view, and ask them which one they want. Encourage verbal answers, and then expand on what your child says. For example, if the child says banana (or points to the banana), you can expand by saying, “I want a banana. It’s a yellow banana.” As your child becomes more consistent at expressing their choices, you can take away the visual information so that your child only has to listen to hear the options.

Additional Tips

The ability to make choices and express wants and needs develops early in life through reaching, pointing, and making eye contact. Verbalizing desires should begin between 12-18 months of age. Research has shown that including sign language when teaching your child to communicate can help a child learn to talk sooner, understand and use more words, and feel more confident in expressing themselves.

Click here to download/print:  Speech at Mealtime – Toddlers