Parenting Tips

BE ADHD SMART…ABOUT MEMORY

With ADHD, it’s tough to keep a set of instructions in mind until a task is done. That’s because working memory gets overloaded—and distracted—really fast. Working memory is the brain’s juggler. So, if you ask your child to do three things—brush your teeth, put on some socks, and get your knapsack—the juggler tries to hold onto all the pieces at once while it runs upstairs to get the tasks done.   But often those tasks don’t get done. Why?  Because in ADHD the brain’s working memory can juggle only a few things at once, and it often gets distracted. Maybe the juggler is doing just fine holding all three things in mind as it runs upstairs—until it gets bounced off-track by something much more interesting than socks. A toy, a game, a book? Suddenly, the juggler wants to pick up those balls, too. And the toothbrush, socks and knapsack are forgotten, because balls drop when more balls are added.  So, what’s a parent to do? Blogs and books on ADHD will encourage you to do this: 1) look your child in the eye to get your child’s attention, and 2) ask your child to repeat the instructions before heading upstairs. Does this work? Nope. Probably...

Busting the Priority Myth: Stop Prioritizing and Start Succeeding

You want what’s best for your child. You always have. So, when worries arise, your inclination might be to prioritize—to target the problem immediately, and exclusively, before it escalates. In prioritizing, other concerns may become secondary in your mind, relegated to “let’s deal with them later.” Intuitively, prioritizing makes a lot of sense. But it might be working against you. Challenging behaviour? You go to a doctor and seek treatment—and for a while, things settle. Failed exam? You talk to the teacher—and for a while, things settle. Adolescent heartbreak? You enlist a therapist—and for a while, things settle. You prioritize again and again and again, at every turn, at every heartbreak, at every challenge. But development is a moving target, and the priorities keep shifting. You’re exhausted, hopeful, frustrated, confused.  Why aren’t your priorities yielding more success? Maybe because you’re doing just that: prioritizing. And maybe it’s time, once and for all, to bust the Priority Myth. Priorities, listed from highest to lowest and given attention as needs arise, are simply not sufficient for best outcomes. So this notion that priorities are your best bet when it comes to helping your child is a myth.    How do you prioritize when it comes to...

4 Parenting Books: Where to Start and Which One is Best for Your Family?

When babies grow to become toddlers and then preschoolers, new challenges can arise.  Getting children to cooperate when leaving the house, to play nicely with their siblings, and to sit at the table during meals, are examples of such challenges. Parents may be interested in reading about how best to support their child’s emotional development, as well as how to curb tantrums, but it can be hard to know where to start to find these answers.  Below is a review of four popular books.  We hope that one of them best fits your family’s needs. If you would like more information about how best to support your child’s emotional development, please contact me or one of the other clinicians at The Possibilities Clinic.  We would be happy to speak with you and get to know your child and family’s needs. 1. How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen by Joanna Faber and Julie King What’s It About? This book shows parents easy-to-use, practical tools for handling children’s emotions, getting through day-to-day tasks, and resolving conflict. It covers specific situations that can be challenging for families with young children, such as dinner time, sleep and resolving conflicts with friends and siblings. Who’s It Written For? The book...

Sensory Diets

When people hear the word “diet” they think about better eating habits and a healthy lifestyle. Similar to food based diets, where one eats specific kinds of foods at specific times of the day, a sensory diet incorporates special activities throughout the day to help a child with sensory, attentional and/ or self-regulation issues manage better. Consider people who shake their legs while sitting at their work stations or university students who exercise as a break from studying- they are engaging in sensory activities to either stay awake or to calm down. Depending on a child’s nervous system and sensory needs, they too may benefit from a sensory diet; a diet of activities and/or equipment used throughout the day to help them function at school and at home.  A sensory diet includes individualized sensory activities that are intended to be used throughout the day to help children focus.  It may include inputs, such as deep pressure (e.g. massage), movement (e.g. jumping), touch (e.g. fidget toy), sound (e.g. music), visual stimulation (e.g. lava lamps), and smell/taste (e.g. peppermint candies), in addition to changes to the environment (e.g. quiet room). A Sensory Diet can assist your child: To manage their attention, organization, and self-regulation To...

Improve Your Child’s Reading Through Direct Instruction

I remember watching all the other kids skip rope. It looked so easy for them, yet no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get the hang of it. I was left feeling frustrated and embarrassed. For children that struggle with reading and writing the feelings of frustration and shame can be just as intense. What’s more, if you have a child that struggles to read or write, you will likely know how difficult it is to get them to practice as they, for good reason, avoid things they find difficult. As a Direct Instruction Tutor my first goal is to see my students succeed and feel confident and motivated. Direct Instruction is a trademark program that works by teaching students all the skills needed to read and write. As students begin to experience success they become less reluctant to tackle reading challenges. Using the programs, along with patience, understanding, games and prizes, struggling readers learn to read. Through Direct Instruction, children will develop the tools to ‘crack the literacy code’. If you are interested in a consultation to see if the program is a good fit for your child, please contact The Possibilities Clinic and we will be happy to assist...

POSSIBILITIES PICK

What to Do When Mistakes Make You Quake: A Kid’s Guide to Accepting Imperfection Claire A.B. Freeland, Ph.D. & Jacqueline B. Toner, Ph.D., Authors Janet McDonnell, Illustrator Magination Press, September 2015 Suitable for Ages 6-12 years Link to purchase: https://amzn.to/2JMvoOn When I was a student, I worried about tests—a lot. Ironic, then, that I would spend 20 plus years in school facing the very things I feared: tests, exams, and all forms of academic evaluation. Obviously, I managed (sometimes barely), but things would have been a whole lot easier if this book had existed years ago when even a pop quiz made me quake. What to Do When Mistakes Make You Quake is an excellent resource for children and pre-teens who struggle with evaluation and the possibility of failure. The eighth book in the popular What-to-Do Guides for Kids® series from Magination Press introduces an explorer theme which is pitch perfect in delivery. Adorable illustrations by Janet McDonnell enhance the adventure as children in pith helmets explore thoughts and feelings with maps, knapsacks and binoculars. Authors Freeland and Toner make the point—and they make it well—that mistakes are inevitable when exploring new ground. The characters explain distorted thinking, explaining unhelpful thoughts (e.g. “I missed the goal. I’m a terrible...

The Memory Mullet: ‘Business in Front’ meet ‘Party in Back’

If you’re an adult of a certain vintage, you probably remember the mullet. It’s a hairstyle that’s hard to forget. The hairstyle of choice for aspiring rock stars, the cut had two distinct features: short hair in front and long hair in back—or, as it was affectionately coined, “business in the front and party in the back.” Personal tastes aside, this was probably a tough cut for stylists to achieve (and a tough style for me to draw, obviously!). How do you take short hair in front and long hair in back and create a style that looks cohesive? No doubt, it was hard work for even the most experienced stylist. At The Possibilities Clinic, I talk with parents and students about memory a lot. I draw a lot, too—on the newly installed whiteboards—to try and illustrate abstract concepts from neuroscience, like how memory works.  When I speak with students about memory, I often hear this: “I have a bad memory,” or “I studied hard, but I completely blanked out on the test!” My next question is usually, “Well, how exactly did you study?” The answers tend to have similar themes: highlighting the textbook, reading notes repeatedly, writing out notes over and...

Spring Into Speech

As we approach May (which happens to be Speech and Hearing Month), the weather is finally starting to feel like spring! When I look at the weather report for the upcoming weeks, I start to smile thinking about all of the fun things I can do outside. The options are endless.  I can explore the city, work on my garden, visit outdoor attractions, etc… All these exciting, outdoor activities provide new, naturalistic opportunities to facilitate language development. And the best part is, they are fun for the both you and your child! But before we dive into some fun activity suggestions, let’s talk about some strategies we can use to promote your child’s language development. You can facilitate language development with your child by using the following strategies during play, conversations, activities etc… When speaking to your child, you should be face-to-face with him/her. This gives your child a visual model of how to articulate speech sounds and teaches your child the social communication skill of using eye contact. During play follow your child’s lead. Use his/her interests to spark conversations and play. This will give you the most opportunities to facilitate language. Use self-talk to describe what you are doing....

How To Optimize Development While Waiting for an Assessment or Therapy

When I see families for assessment of development, learning, attention or behaviour, many recommendations are patient- and condition-specific. However, others are useful for any child with any developmental concern. There are many aspects that contribute to healthy child development, many of which are modifiable. No diagnosis is required for these interventions so anyone can start them at any time. Here are some things to consider: Early intervention is key! Referral: If there are red flags at 15-18 months, a referral should be made. Wait lists range from several months to over one year so a child still may not be seen until 2.5-3 years. If concerns dissipate, the appointment can be cancelled. Speech and language assessment: Any parent or physician can refer to Early Abilities/York Region Speech and Language/ErinoakKids etc...

Parenting Children and Teens with ADHD

Being a parent is sometimes difficult. Being the parent of a child with ADHD is often Difficult with a capital “D.” Perhaps the parenting techniques and tricks you use successfully with other children just don’t seem to get the same results. Maybe the behaviour and challenges you see are so overwhelming you don’t even know what to try or where to begin. So often, the parenting strategies and approaches that we normally use aren’t fitting and our usual bag of parenting tools just don’t work. If you have experienced any of these challenges parenting your child or teen with ADHD, you are not alone: trouble getting your child’s attention trouble getting your child to listen to you long enough to hear all of what you say children forgetting instructions or rules children getting distracted and not finishing tasks having to ask your child to do something 1,000 times dealing with your child’s impulsive behaviour and decisions struggles and fights during transitions (e.g., morning routine, bedtime) children having BIG emotions or meltdowns children being easily frustrated or angry children experiencing low self-esteem and feeling they are always “bad”   Having ADHD is not an excuse for your child to get away with not following...