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The “Terrible twos” is that period in a child’s life when they go through a wide variety of emotions and behaviors throughout the day, shifting rapidly and unpredictably between each feeling. To make matters worse, most kids this age can understand more speech than they can express, making it difficult for parents to figure out what is wrong and causing a lot of frustration for the child. That period usually starts around their second birthday and can go on until 4 years old when they begin to be able to control their emotions better. At two years old, children want to be independent but still need their parents’ help. They want to do things on their own but also realize that they have to follow rules! This can be frustrating for a child and can lead to inappropriate behavior, poor impulse control and tantrums. It’s also at this age that they start learning social concepts such as sharing and  taking turn which can be difficult for a lot of kids! Behaviors such as pushing another child, hitting, biting and kicking are often symptoms of the “Terrible Twos”. This page includes affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission when you purchase products through these links. I only link to products I use and love. Thanks for supporting Thanks For Helping Me Grow! At times, however, a child might behave badly because of difficulties with sensory processing. Sensory processing refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. When a child has sensory processing difficulties, his brain does not know what to do with all the information he receives from the environment. He can become overwhelmed quickly. This overwhelming feeling can lead to misbehavior and no matter what strategy parents use to try and tame the behavior, it does not work. You can find out more about sensory processing here. Quite often, a 2 year old child might exhibit both signs of sensory processing difficulties and have behavior issues related to typical development. I often have little ones in my practice who come to me for sensory processing difficulties and also misbehave due to the “Terrible Twos”. It can be difficult to determine if it is only a behavior issue of if there are sensory issues also. But with a little detective work, and once a sensory diet has been established, the unwanted behavior usually become less frequent or stops completely. I also find that teaching young kids about emotions, feelings and expected behavior can help. Here is a list of books that I have found to help with giving them the vocabulary to express those emotions and some strategies to cope with these feelings: The Way I Feel by Janan Cain Image from Amazon Website https://amzn.to/2XA5DHE Talk And Work It Out by Cheri J. Seiners Image from Amazon website https://amzn.to/2KCvlb9 Cool Down And Work Through Anger by Cheri J. Seiners Image from Amazon Website https://amzn.to/2EW3lLF When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang Image from Amazon Website https://amzn.to/2ZwOAHk Hands Are Not For Hitting by Martine Agassi Image from Amazon Website https://amzn.to/2IzmrbQ Teeth Are Not For Biting by Elizabeth Verdick Image from Amazon Website https://amzn.to/2MC4fn9 Feet Are Not For Kicking by Elizabeth Verdick Image from Amazon Website https://amzn.to/2K53i4m Calm-Down Time by Elizabeth Verdick Image from Amazon Website https://amzn.to/2K41xVh Little Monkey Calms down by Michael Dahl Image from Amazon Website https://amzn.to/2InlaEk Little Dinos Don’t Hit by Michael Dahl Image from Amazon Website https://amzn.to/2K7hxWC Little Dinos Don’t Bite by Michael Dahl Image from Amazon Website https://amzn.to/31G7xJe I Was So Mad by Mercer Mayer Image from Amazon Website https://amzn.to/2WvdSIT

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Baby food pouches are very popular. Their popularity keeps growing! And I completely understand why. For busy parents they are convenient; no need to refrigerate them, no spoon or bowl needed (hence no dishes to clean), they are portable, and they appear to be healthy! Baby food pouches are convenient for busy parents. Photo from amazon website. As a feeding therapist, I don’t recommend them at all and here’s why: “My baby learned quickly how to “eat” from a pouch”! First of all, sucking your food is not eating, it’s called drinking. And yes, babies are already equipped with the oral motor skills to suck the pureed food from the pouches because babies are born with the front to back tongue movement necessary to suck milk or formula. But the oral motor skills necessary to suck and swallow is very different than taking food from a spoon, moving it around the mouth to form a bolus and moving it back in preparation for swallowing. Furthermore, when introducing solids (at around 6 months of age), your baby has to learn how to move the tongue from side to side (lateral tongue movement), which is so important for chewing. Drinking food from a pouch delays the development of these important oral motor skills.  “Its’ not messy”! Exactly! The first year of life should be filled with all sorts of sensory experiences. And getting food on their hands and faces is one of the most important sensory experiences! “It’s healthy and it’s the only way to get him to eat fruits and vegetables”! Yes and no. Of course, pouches are healthier that cookies, crackers or chips! They come in many combinations of fruits, vegetables and grains and in a variety of flavors! They even have organic ones with no sugar added. But when looking at the ingredients, the first ingredient listed (and the one present in the largest quantity) is usually applesauce, pureed pears or pureed carrots. The percentage of the other ingredients listed is usually minimal. Unfortunately, your child will never learn what all these fruits and vegetables taste like because the first ingredient is sweet and masks the taste of those vegetables mixed in. And he will never learn the different textures of fruits and vegetables since everything is pureed and smooth. “It’s the only thing he wants to eat”! Sadly, I hear this way too often. Many of my little clients are referred for a feeding evaluation because they will only eat baby food pouches! There are many reasons why this might be the case; when your baby is cranky or irritable and you are out and about, it’s so easy to just give him one of these pouches. You might think that he is hungry and that’s why he is cranky. And the action of sucking is soothing and self-regulating. So he gets a sweet snack (to satisfy his hunger) and gets it in a manner that is calming. But if every time he gets upset, he gets a pouch, he is learning to eat when he is upset rather than when he is hungry. Also, getting pouches to “eat” throughout the day can spoil his appetite for mealtimes. Eventually, your child might refuse to eat what’s in his plate at mealtimes. You might become distressed because he is not eating. You might try to coax him to eat, bribe him, try to force him to eat, making him upset and frustrated! Finally, you give him another pouch, thinking that it’s better to eat something than nothing! This is reinforcing your child’s habit of eating when he is upset and can cause feeding disorders later on. Baby food pouches are not messy! If a parent insists on feeding their child pouches, here is what I recommend: Only offer pouches when you are out of the house and only because you don’t have fresh food to offer him. Feed the content of the pouches with a spoon to help develop oral motor skills. Even better, when your child is ready, let him hold the spoon and feed himself learning important self-feeding skills and if he gets messy in the process, that’s ok.  I am not against giving an older child a pouch once his oral motor skills are well developed and he is proficient with a spoon. Just make sure that he is sitting at the table to eat rather than walking around with the pouch in his mouth. It’s dangerous and the sugars from the puree can lead to tooth decay.  If you enjoyed reading this post and don’t want to miss any future posts, subscribe to my Newsletter!

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I often get asked if gagging during breastfeeding is normal. And my answer is: “It depends.” There are many reasons why your baby might be gagging during breastfeeding. And, before you start panicking, there are a few easy solutions to try. Knowing when your baby gags is important. Does he gag immediately when the nipple enters the mouth? Does he start gagging after latching on? Does it happen when you experience a let down? The most common reason for gagging during breastfeeding is a heavy flow. If your milk tends to come out fast, it can be difficult for your baby to coordinate sucking, breathing and swallowing and this may cause him to start gagging, coughing and pulling away from the breast. If you think this is the case, try a different position. Preferably where your baby’s head is higher than the breast. You can also try to pump first before feeding your baby to decrease the flow. If it happens during your let down, you can try pumping until after your first let down and then offer the breast. If your baby gags immediately when the nipple enters the mouth, he might have a very sensitive gag reflex. Again, using a different position making sure that the head is higher than the breast should help. This will avoid the nipple from penetrating too deep.  You can also try to introduce the nipple slowly, by first placing it on the lips before slowly putting it in his mouth. The gag reflex becomes less sensitive over time and your baby should have less gagging episodes as time goes by. If this is still a problem after a few weeks, you can try to use a pacifier or your pinky finger to help desensitize your baby’s mouth. Try rubbing the gums and the side of the tongue 3 times per day.  If your baby is gagging so much that it makes feedings difficult and stressful and you are concerned that he is not getting enough milk, you should get a feeding evaluation. Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay. If you enjoyed reading this post and don’t want to miss any future posts, sign up for my Newsletter!
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In my practice, I have a lot of little ones who are afraid of going down a slide.  And I also see some kiddos going down on their tummy, feet first. Their parents don’t understand why they are so scared or why they go down that way. This page includes affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission when you purchase products through these links. I only link to products I use and love. Thanks for supporting Thanks For Helping Me Grow! Think about how it feels to go down a slide. Similar to accelerating in a car, going down a slide feels like a mysterious force is pushing your body back! But unlike being in a car, you have no backrest to keep you upright! The taller the slide, the more difficult it is to maintain a sitting position. The only tools you have at your disposition are your core muscles. How can you tell if you child has poor core strength? Just watch what happens when they go down a slide. Core stability muscles or postural muscles are the deep muscles in your abdomen, pelvis and back. They work together to help you maintain a good posture. Having weak core muscles is like having a poor foundation on a house. When these muscles are weak, it is difficult to do a lot of things. So it is not surprising that sliding down a slide is one of the most terrifying activities for little ones with poor core strength. How can you tell if you child has poor core strength? Just watch what happens when they go down a slide. Do they fall backwards when sliding down, almost laying down on their back? That’s a sign of poor core strength. And that’s pretty scary if you ask me! Going down on her tummy head first, will also work on improving core strength by strengthening the back muscles. But using a slide doesn’t have to be scary! It can be a lot of fun! And it can help strengthen your child’s core muscles. Start with a small slide with a gentle slope like this Step2 Game Time Sports Climber and Slide. I like this slide because it has a platform at the top between the steps and the slide, giving the child more space to organize her body and move into a sitting position. But if you don’t have enough space, the Little Tykes Junior Play Slide would work also. For a child with poor core strength, you can help her by holding her at the pelvis, preventing her from losing her balance and falling backwards. You can also help your child maintain a sitting posture by cueing her to lean forward and ask her to put her hands on her knees (which makes her lean forward) instead of holding on to the slide. Make her feel secure and make it fun! Once your child starts to use her core muscles, you can start letting her go. She is more likely to enjoy sliding if you make a game out of it. Following are some ideas I use in therapy to encourage my little ones to slide. Have her race small cars from the top of the slide to the bottom, then slide down to retrieve the cars. Roll a ball down the slide first and ask the child to go get it by sliding down right after. I like to use a favorite puzzle as an incentive to slide down; Slide each piece of the puzzle down the slide (one at a time) and ask the child to go down the slide to go put the piece in the puzzle. To increase the challenge and get a good workout at the same time, ask you kiddo to climb up the chute. Once your child has mastered the small slide, you can try a taller one. The Step2 Naturally Playful Big Folding Slide is great and can be folded for easy storage. But remember that the taller the slide, the more core strength will be necessary to stay seated while going down.  Going down on her tummy head first, will also work on improving core strength by strengthening the back muscles. Go down the steps to get a puzzle piece before sliding down and putting the piece in. To increase the challenge and get a good workout at the same time, ask you kiddo to climb up the chute and go down the steps to get a puzzle piece before sliding down and putting the piece in.  Climbing up the chute is an excellent way to work on strengthening. It’s also a great way to work on improving motor planning and bilateral integration. Using a slide to improve core strength can be a lot of fun! Using a slide to improve core strength can be a lot of fun! And if you enjoyed this post and don’t want to miss any future posts, subscribe to my Newsletter!
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Theodor Seuss Geisel was an American children’s author, political cartoonist, and animator. He is known for his work writing and illustrating more than 60 books under the pen name Dr. Seuss. And March 2nd, is Dr. Seuss’ Birthday! The Cat In The Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Ten Apples Up On Top and Dr. Seuss’ ABC Book are some of my favorites! So, for the next week and a half, we are having a Dr. Seuss celebration! We are reading his books, practicing cutting with The Dr. Seuss Free Cut It Out Pack from www.thisreadingmama.com , making hand print “Thing 1 and Thing 2” from “The Cat in The Hat” and other craft projects such as the “Simple Apple Tree Craft for Toddlers and Preschoolers” that goes along with “Ten Apples Up On Top” and I made some Worksheets for my kiddos who are ready for some prewriting practice. Picture Matching, Find the Different One and Simple Puzzles are all fun worksheets and they are great for working on executive functions (attention, concentration and focus), visual perceptual skills (visual discrimination, form consistency, visual memory) visual motor skills (eye-hand coordination) fine motor skills and motor planning. In this FREE set of Dr. Seuss Themed Worksheets for Preschoolers, you will find: – Dr. Seuss Match worksheet – Which One is Different worksheet – 9 Pieces Puzzle – And 5 Dr. Seuss Pre-Writing worksheets You can download all these worksheets by clicking the download button below. And if you enjoyed this post and don’t want to miss any future posts, subscribe to my Newsletter!
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The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game is a fun game for kiddos 2.5 years old and older. The goal of the game is to be the first one to collect all 5 acorns on your log. Each acorn has a different color requiring color-matching skills and you have to pick up the acorn using the squirrel squeezer, which is an excellent fine motor activity. Placing the acorns in the matching holes also requires eye-hand coordination. Finally, like every games, children have to learn important social skills such as taking turn and sharing the squirrel squeezer! The goal of the game is to be the first one to collect all 5 acorns on your log. As an occupational therapist, I am trained to analyze a game and determine if it is developmentally appropriate, and if it needs to be adapted to make it work. I look at all the skills required to play the game, figure out ways to simplify it or make it more challenging and determine if it will hold a child’s attention (depending on that child’s interests). This page includes affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission when you purchase products through these links. I only link to products I use and love. Thanks for supporting Thanks For Helping Me Grow! By 2.5 years old, kids should be able to use the squirrel squeezer. The recommended age of 3 years old is just a safety guideline as the acorns are small and could potentially be a choking hazard. However, children as young as 2 years old can begin to work on matching the colors of the acorns and placing them inside the matching hole and by 2.5 years old, they should be able to use the squirrel squeezer. With my younger clients, I only use the spinner to determine which color acorn to pick. But by the age of 3 years old, I start teaching my kiddos the rules of the games including losing a turn if the spinner stops on the “Sad Squirrel” or losing one of their acorn to the “Sneaky Squirrel”. Children as young as 2 years old can begin to work on matching the colors of the acorns and placing them inside the matching hole. If you and your child like this game, you should also check out the Educational Insights Raccoon Rumpus Game (you can red about it here), Barnyard Bingo Fisher Price Game and Paw Patrol Dog House Bingo Fisher Price Game (you can read about both of them here). And if you enjoyed this post and don’t want to miss any future posts, subscribe to my Newsletter!
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With the cold weather upon us, most of my little ones started wearing winter clothes. Fortunately, in Southern California, that only means a coat or jacket and on really cold days, maybe a hat and some mittens. For the month of January, my theme for most of my therapeutic activities was “Winter”. And as part of that theme, I included some activities involving winter clothes. This page includes affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission when you purchase products through these links. I only link to products I use or love. Thanks for supporting Thanks For Helping Me Grow! I made these fun “Mittens Matching Games” using some felt, a few colorful buttons and some clothespins. – Using a mitten template I found online, I cut up mittens from different color felt. I cut up two of the same color and I cut a small slit into the top of one of them. – I also cut up a 1 ½” strip of black felt, about 3 foot long. – I sewed one button of each of the mittens color on the black strip. That’s it! Now we are ready to play the “Mittens Matching Games”. The first game consists of matching one mitten with the same colored button and fastening it to the black strip of felt. This game is not only a great way to work on matching colors, but it also works on fine motor skills, bimanual skills, and self-help skills. Match one mitten with the same colored button and fasten it to the strip of black felt. The other game consists of matching two mittens of the same color and joining them together using a clothespin. This activity also works on matching colors, develops fine motor skills, bimanual skills and it is also a great strengthening activity for fingers and grasp. Match two mittens of the same color and join them together with a clothespin. To create this activity you will need: Assorted Colors Felt Fabric Sheets Round large craft buttons Clothespins I hope you enjoyed reading this post! To be sure not to miss any future posts, subscribe to my monthly Newsletter!
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Living in Southern California, we don’t get snow. We mostly get cooler temperatures and rain. So when my kids were young, we would take them to the mountains to experience the snow.

Going down a mountain in a tube was an experience my kids got to experience only one day a year.

Making a snowman, having a snowball fight and going down the mountain in a tube was always so much fun! Unfortunately, my kids only got one day a year to experience all these fun activities. So when we returned home, I tried to recreate some of these activities. And since we got plenty of rainy days, we had fun “playing in the snow” indoors!

Making a snowman is so much fun!

Here are a few of those activities my kids really enjoyed that provide proprioception (sense of body position) and vestibular (sense of movement) stimulation.  These are great to incorporate into a sensory diet and don’t require special equipment!

  • Making a snowman: pretend that you are making a snowman by rolling your child into a blanket, providing deep pressure, proprioception and vestibular stimulation all at the same time.
  • Sliding down the mountain in a tube: no tube needed here! Have your child sit into a laundry basket or a large empty cardboard box and push him around the house. If you have more than one child, they can take turn sitting and pushing! The child who is sitting gets some vestibular stimulation while the child pushing is getting plenty of proprioception!
  • Having a snowball fight: socks rolled up into balls or crumpled paper become snowballs. Running around picking up the snowballs, hiding behind pieces of furniture and throwing the “snowballs” are all great activities that provide both proprioception and vestibular stimulation!
  • Ice-skating: we do have an indoor rink near our house and can go there regularly. But let’s face it, it’s not cheap (especially with three kids). So we would pretend that we were skating by gliding on the tiles or hardwood floor in our socks! Again, this activity provides plenty of proprioception and vestibular stimulation! Add some music to skate to and you have an afternoon filled with lots of fun!
  • Making snow angels: you can pretend to make snow angels anywhere! But if you have some butcher paper or a large piece of cardboard, you can draw your snow angel and keep it forever! Just attach markers to the child’s ankles and hands! To finish the angel, trace the outline of the child before he gets up.

With a little imagination, I am sure that you can come up with many more activities that recreate winter fun! Even kids can come up with fun ways to “play in the snow”! Just remember that safety should come first and that children should always be supervised when participating in this type of activities.

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I love wintertime! There are so many fun winter activities to do with kids: Ice skating, sledding, skiing, making a snowman, and having a snowball fight!

Unfortunately, with winter also comes the cold weather! I know that it’s not always possible to go outside and play, so I created this fun winter themed matching game:

Matching games are great for working on visual attention and visual scanning!

“Visual attention” refers to the cognitive ability to deal with a visual scene that contains too much information all at once, by filtering out irrelevant information and only paying attention to what is important.

“Visual scanning” happens when you are looking at everything within your filed of vision to compare what you see with what you are looking for. When reading, we use left to right and top to bottom visual scanning.

This page includes affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission when you purchase products through these links. I only link to products I use or love. Thanks for supporting Thanks For Helping Me Grow! My kiddos love this game and keep asking for it every time I see them!

We use visual attention and visual scanning constantly in our everyday life. For example, when copying notes from the board, a student needs to use visual attention and scanning to go back to where he left off. When completing an inset puzzle, we use visual attention and scanning to match a piece with the matching hole. When categorizing objects, we scan the available categories to find the right one. Even when we play sports, we are constantly scanning the environment to locate the ball, other players, the goal, etc. Visual attention and visual scanning are very important visual skills that need to be developed early on.

  This Winter Matching Game is simple to make:

·       Download the game here

·       Print two copies on cardstock

·       Cut out all the pieces from one copy

·       Use the second copy as the board

·       If you want to make this game more durable, you can laminate all the pieces. I used this laminator and these laminating pockets.

  My kiddos love this game and keep asking for it every time I see them! I hope your kids will like it too! If you enjoyed this post and don’t want to miss any future posts, subscribe to my Newsletter!
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I get asked all the time for gift ideas for my little clients. Grand parents, Aunts and Uncles and even family friends want to give the best toys for the kiddos in their life. As an occupational therapist, I am trained to analyze each toy and determine if is appropriate for a certain child. Sometimes, a toy is labeled for a certain age for safety reason but can be appropriate for younger kids with adequate supervision. And sometimes (this is especially true for kids with special needs) toys that would be age appropriate are actually not developmentally appropriate. For this reason, I have decided to create this gift guide according to age and development level. This page includes affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission when you purchase products through these links. I only link to products I use or love. Thanks for supporting Thanks For Helping Me Grow! Books: Between the ages of 2 years old and 3 years old, most children love to be read to. They also start showing interest in specific characters, such as Paw Patrol, Mickey Mouse, Disney Princesses, etc. They might also demonstrate interest in animals, dinosaurs, cars or trains. Books that feature their interests become favorites! Here are some of my kids’ favorite characters and books. Just Me and My Mom (A Little Critter Book) by Mercer Meyer Just Me and My Dad (Little Critter) Just Go to Bed (Little Critter) How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?  by Jane Yolen How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD?  Toys to Develop Fine Motor Skills: At this age, kids love to create things; Arts and crafts supplies, building blocks, large beads and play dough are all favorites. Supervision during these activities is still highly recommended, especially if your child still has a tendency to put things in his mouth. Here are some of my favorite activities for this age group. Melissa & Doug Deluxe Standing Art Easel – Dry-Erase Board, Chalkboard, Paper Roller Crayola Art Buddy Pip-Squeak Character Backpack & Art Tools Kit Portable  Crayola Washable Kid’s Paint (6 count) (Paint Art Set) Play-Doh Play ‘n Store Table, Arts & Crafts, Activity Table Melissa & Doug Primary Lacing Beads with 30 Beads and 2 laces Fisher-Price Barnyard Bingo Game Melissa & Doug Magnetic Towing Game – Wooden Puzzle Board (10 pcs) Toys to Encourage Pretend Play: Encouraging your child’s imagination is important to develop language and increase his vocabulary. Pretending to be someone else allows your child to take control of the situation and to practice what he has learned. It’s also a great way to learn social rules and encourages problem-solving skills. Having a big imagination helps children think outside the box and find solutions to problems faster. The following are toys that foster kids’ imagination. Lazu Superhero Dress up Costumes 7 Satin Capes with Felt Masks Disney Princess Dress Up Trunk Step2 Lifestyle Fresh Accents Kitchen Matchbox Mission 4-Level Garage Playset Playskool Heroes Transformers Rescue Bots Optimus Prime Action Figure Toys to Develop Gross Motor Skills: Jumping, running smoothly, climbing, pedaling a tricycle and ball play are all skills that develop during this period. The following are great toys for your high energy kiddo or the child who needs a little more practice before becoming a master at those skills. Little Tikes 3′ Trampoline Radio Flyer Rider Trike Ride On K2 Toddler 3 Wheel Scooter & Ride-On Balance Trike 2-in-1 Adjustable Step2 Kickback Soccer Goal And Pitch Back Keep in mind that most of these toys will continue to be favorites for the next year or two. As your little one develops all his skills, he will discover new ways to play with each toy! If you enjoyed reading this post and don’t want to miss any future posts, subscribe to my Newsletter!

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