More Than Words | RTS Blog

A Not-So-Scary Halloween

Ghosts, goblins, and ghouls may soon be making their debut, but that doesn’t mean your child can’t enjoy a not-so-scary Halloween.

For many young children, especially those with special needs, Halloween excitement can turn into total overload causing unnecessary angst and anxiety.

Your child will be introduced to new sights, sounds, tastes and activities during this haunting holiday that may cause him to become overwhelmed. All of those sensory elements combined with the social demands of trick-or-treating can turn a fun night into a frightening and frustrating experience. However, by planning ahead and anticipating some challenges that may arise, you can avoid the “tricks” to ensure your child experiences the “treats.”

Talk about talking

Trick-or-treating gives your child the opportunity to exchange dialogue in a friendly setting. Let him ring the doorbell and practice his greeting over and over again. As you practice, ask him about his costume or his favorite candy to engage him further as a neighbor may do on Halloween night.

Let him glow

Planning to be out after dark? Most “scary” sights are much less concerning during the day but may take on a new look after the sun goes down. Give your son a glow stick or a flashlight to carry to illuminate his path and shed light into the night.

Allow him to give out candy

If donning a costume and hearing new noises will be too much for your son, let him stay home and hand out candy with you by his side. Give him directions about how much candy to give out and what greetings he should use as the costumed children approach for treats.

Trade in the candy

Is your child highly sensitive to sugar and dyes? Does he have food allergies? Let him trade the candy he collects for a special toy. Make sure to have the toy ready to give to him when you offer the exchange.

With positive plans in place, Halloween can be an enjoyable day for you and your child. Have fun!

  Filed under: Parenting Tips, Raleigh Therapy Services


Small Kids, Big Backpacks

Is your child’s backpack loaded up and full of books? Is he starting to complain of backaches? Do his shoulders hurt?

Carrying too much weight in a bookbag or wearing the bag incorrectly, can lead to some issues for your student. In fact, a student’s backpack can be the culprit for a number of aches and pains as well as poor posture and weakened muscles.

While you may not be able to do anything about the workload and books your student brings home each day, you can give him some tips to ensure he’s properly using his bookbag to curb unnecessary pain.

Backpack Tips

Loading a backpack:

  • Make sure all items in the bag are needed that day
  • Place the heaviest items against the back of the bag
  • Use outside pockets to carry smaller items
  • Try to fill compartments and pockets evenly to distribute weight

Students who wear their bookbags correctly will also lessen their risk of shoulder and back pain. Make sure your child knows the right and wrong way to wear their backpack.

Wearing a backpack:

  • Utilize both shoulder straps for even weight distribution
  • Tighten the shoulder straps to ensure the bag doesn’t hang loosely on the shoulders
  • Adjust the straps, so the bag sits in the curve of the child’s lower back when worn
  • Wear both the waist and chest straps
  • Wear the backpack only when necessary

Raleigh Therapy Services Occupational Therapist Maria Georgiou added, “Your child’s backpack should not weigh more than 10 percent of his total body weight. If it does, speak with his teacher to find a solution to lessen the weight of the bag by reviewing the actual contents he needs to complete his work.” 

Buying a Backpack

Another item to consider in reducing your child’s backpack pain is to determine if you purchased the right bag for him and his school needs.

Important features to consider when selecting a backpack include:

  • Organizational pockets and compartments
  • Waist and chest straps
  • Two wide-padded shoulder straps
  • Extra back padding
  • Lightweight canvas material
  • Structure and size; a book bag should not be larger than the child’s back

Continued Back or Body Pains

If your student continues to experience back or body pains even after discussing the proper way to wear and load his bookbag, you may want to speak with his pediatrician. She may want to see him to assess your concerns and determine if an ergonomic evaluation is needed.

  Filed under: Awareness, Occupational Therapy, Parenting Tips


Mastering After School Meltdowns

School is back in session. New kindergarteners are learning what it means to be a student. First-graders are getting reacquainted with their desks and new classroom routines. The big kid third-, fourth- and fifth-graders are catching up with friends, navigating the schoolyard and digging into their studies and homework. And nearly all of them are coming home and melting down, right?

I hear from many parents of elementary-age children who share similar stories about the challenges they face after school dismal. The struggle is real.

“My son is a kindergartener, and while he’s excited to go to school each day, he’s coming home exhausted and emotional,” said Allison Crumpler, speech-language pathologist and director of clinical compliance for Raleigh Therapy Services. “I know he is trying hard to sit still and pay attention during class and that takes a lot out of a new student. It’s no wonder he comes home ready to fall apart.”

It is common for children, especially for younger students, to come home mentally and physically exhausted from school. Consider your student’s day—new learnings, exciting experiences, and fast-paced transitions. Not to mention, your student may eat lunch early in the day and come home with a hungry tummy. No wonder your little one is tired and emotional and nearing the brink of a meltdown every afternoon.

Hopefully, your student will soon acclimate to the school setting and build stamina to take on school-day demands, and you’ll see her behavior improve. In the meanwhile, here are some strategies to consider as you address her challenging behaviors.

Keep quiet

Sure you want to know all about your daughter’s day and what she did in class, but better to wait a bit before you start your questions. Greet her with a simple hug and positive “hello” and then permit her time to decompress. Give her the time and space to zone out and settle in your home setting and then ask her about class.

Attack with a snack

Does your child arrive home from school starving dangerously close to entering the “hangry” zone? Face that hunger head on with a healthy snack to boost her energy and mood.

Limit screen time

It’s not a bad idea to let your daughter watch her favorite TV show to calm down upon arriving home. However, you should try to limit after-school screen time to a maximum of 20 or 30 minutes.

Avoid overscheduling

Do your best to avoid overscheduling your daughter’s afternoons. She will come home tired from a full day at school and will need free time to wind down and relax.

Make time to play

Try to find time to play with your child—coloring, crafting, tossing a ball, anything she finds fun. Your one-on-one attention will help her reconnect with you and feel less overwhelmed from her school day.

Hunker down with homework

Set up a designated space and specific time for your daughter to do her homework. She will find comfort knowing her homework routine, which will help to lessen her stress for this daily task. 

Stick with bedtime

One, if not the most important, ways for you to help your daughter navigate her new school schedule is to keep her bedtime consistent. Most 5-year-olds need 10 or more hours of sleep each night to feel well rested the next day. A well-rested child will have a leg up on a new day.

 

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

  Filed under: Parent Education, Parenting Tips, Therapy Ideas