Going back to school and public Policy


The Impact of New Laws and Policies that Will Shape our Future! 

 

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the way Communities and Governments are dealing with the new realities of a society struck by Covid 19.   With no one quite sure about the direction of anything today!  Add to that the various sources of information and misinformation?  Anger both displaced and justified?  Who could blame anyone for wondering which path to follow or who to believe?  There are mixed messages everywhere!   And no one knows exactly which sources can be relied upon?  Confusion leads to frustration.  Frustration leads to angry conversations and counter arguments.  And soon we are at the point where we are more confused than we began!  For families with toddlers and school aged children.  This is a need to know topic!  

As an Early Childhood Program Development Specialist and Child/Family Advocate.  A part of my responsibilities were to know and understand existing policies.  Advocate for change when needed.  And help families better understand and navigate educational systems with others where they would intersect with work and family life.  Often assisting families where public policy intersected with individual life experiences and collective community shared experiences.  By bringing your stories and perspectives as a community from the field to inform Public Policies that impacted family’s daily lives. Because whether we realize it or not?  Every position we take on a topic has implications beyond our own family table!  WE drive social interaction and policy.  And that comes with more responsibility than we may recognize. When we understand the power of a collective voice for change?  We parents and policy makers begin to understand the need to be informed, open minded, and effective.  For the kids.

Having spent decades in the field as well as interpreting the data to present to policy makers.  I can clearly relate that there were pathways and systems already in place for better or worse.  Laws and regulations already in existence that serve as a guide to frame the discussion and response also, for better or worse.  So how can we impact that?  And what are the rules and regulations that inform systems of education and how they impact families? What happens in a Public Health Emergency like Covid19 and beyond? And more importantly?  What happens when those comforts of stability and predictability are taken from us?

For parents, the main issue is how do we advocate for our children’s individual needs while not losing sight of those whose needs may be different than ours? Because we are all connected!  Respectfully and effectively dialoguing with support professionals responsible for educating our children traditionally is key.   The practices we will implement now must reassure Educators that their health and safety is paramount to us as well!  The challenge with all these voices at the table is how do hear them all while maintaining respect for everyone!  For the good of children, families and the professionals who strengthen and support the kids must use this opportunity to make schools better through Covid19 and beyond!

 Covid19 has created an environment many of us could never have even imagined! Changing lives in what felt to most of us like a split second. Parents thrust into the role of teacher, mental health professional, coach, and activities counselor in an instant have been overwhelmed!  School Districts scrambling to switch to an online learning model within days, were overwhelmed.  Families of children with special needs left to make sense of a new method of learning and Service Delivery at the same time. All the while wondering if their children would lose valuable interactions that make it possible for their children to thrive.  With little to no warning or preparation. Our Children have been thrust into this new reality on the fly!

The negative results on our children is many are “falling behind” and experiencing trauma.  A direct result of forced isolation and quarantine. Online learning models that were developed rapidly in response to a public health emergency will have problems.  And as parents know, some of our children struggled to adapt.  Teachers tasked with meeting the needs of every child in the new format struggled too.  And parents were pushed to the brink of exhaustion!  All affected mentally AND emotionally by our new circumstances.  But we have survived.  The goal now becomes using our new experiences for good!

What school and educational settings look like in a Covid19 world without a vaccine is the thing.  While some parents have organized themselves into opposing teams between those that want to go back to the traditional classrooms pre-pandemic.  want children to return to classrooms as quickly as possible.  And others wary of what that could mean for the health of their kids and themselves wondering is it even safe to consider now?  The fear being too little is known about this epidemic to feel confident in sending children to school at all!  No one knows what the right answer is.  And currently not enough information is available to tell us what the implications of returning children to classrooms are long term.  

This is just an educated guess and opinion, but it does not seem likely that children should be returning to traditional classrooms anytime soon.  For their safety or ours.  Parents and educators collectively addressing the needs of children during such uncertain times are tasked with the unknowable.  But we must take what we learn together and decide as a community where we go from here?!

The laws and regulations already in existence serve as the foundation upon which we begin our advocacy conversation. Most of those regulations were born out of tragedy and forced change.  Meaning they should be familiar with working under pressure to serve communities.  Those regulations are a ground floor so to speak.  On which we will build and enhance learning environments.

The negative part of that is though many of the guidelines and regulations are changed periodically.  Many haven’t changed for decades and generations!  The challenges facing a new economy were already stretching the effectiveness of Public Education.  Working together to redefine our shared goals for providing a future for our children was already necessary pre-pandemic.  And even more necessary now!  We can work together to define our shared goals for our children in a pandemic environment.

We started this journey with overcrowded classrooms with resources spread too thin.  Stressed out teachers and students lacking technology in many Districts was causing many students to fall behind of the modern learning curve!  Covid19 has cleared out the classrooms and put the onus of providing most daily resources on parents. Many who now hold a greater appreciation of the Professionals charged with educating our kids. That is a good thing!

Survey after survey we find that Parents and Teachers are united in their desire to do what is best for kids. Priority in a Public Health Emergency is ensuring that social distancing, proper hand washing procedures, and face coverings be utilized minimally appropriately.  Where in person schooling is implemented?   Class sizes will need to be reduced!  With large gathering spaces repurposed to accommodate the need for social distancing.  Staffing will need to increase to ensure the health and safety of children in smaller groups reducing the likelihood of an outbreak.  And well thought out procedures must be in place for if/when an outbreak occurs. No small undertaking when you consider that in NYC alone there are 1,126,501 students, the largest school district in the United States. ( schools.nyc.gov). Long Island there are 230,430 in Suffolk and Nassau County has 199, 305. Areas with dense populations will face tough challenges! 

September is less than 60 days from today. Therefore, parents, educators, advocates and administrative staff need to join forces to rethink the all or nothing us vs them mantras that divide us clouding our way forward that won’t benefit us or our children at all

Understanding the enormity of the task ahead will go a long way in how we come to grips with what lies ahead of us.  Acknowledge that your voices have been heard by decision makers. Do what you can to make today a little less stressful for your children and you. Consider that It may be time to pivot the conversation from “Let’s get these kids back to school now!”  To “What are we going to do if that is not a feasible option?”  And be vocal about what policy makers can do to make it possible for working families to return to work peacefully knowing our children are safe, sound and learning!  It is going to take a collective voice to decide the future for our Families.  Be the change.

 

 

Dianne Galante former Infant/ToddlerEarly Childhood Program Development Specialist.  NYS Health and Safety Curriculum Approved Trainer. PITC and Touchpoints Community Trainer. Former Contributor to LI Parent Magazine.  Nanny and a Mama! 

 

 

 

 

 

Mama’s Friends!


 Contributor’s to Mama’s Extended Family!  

Mama’s SPECIAL FEATURED GUEST!

AN MD MAMA!

Find Out More

Mama’s BLOG

Mamasposts Founder and Childcare Specialist Dianne Galante talks to and with Moms and Families About Today’s Challenges!  

Find Out More

Mama’s NutritioN   Spot!

The Nutri-Mama! Laura Lynn Iacono. Registered Dietician Owner of One potato two tomato talks about the Foods your Family eats!

Find Out More

Mama’s Speech and Spiritual

 

Debbie Chalifoux Experienced Speech Specialist and Mama’s Energy Guru!  

Find Out More

 

Perfectly Imperfect!  Pt.2 

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE 

 

 

Part 2 of a 3 Part Series About our Kids and Families Fighting an Epidemic.

Let’s begin again with the obvious.  Parenting in Crisis is stressful beyond words!  Parenting during a global pandemic?  Well, that almost defies description! As a young single mother with a passion to really help families in meaningful ways over time I was labeled by some as “solution girl”.  A term of endearment claimed proudly because it meant that there were answers out there for building relationships within families that were real and useful!  And being a part of that meant in a small part some of my personal goals were being met!  But those were different times, unlike today.  When there are no guardrails or tried and true methods to improve upon.  We are all in the same place.

Well-intentioned advice proceeded by phrases like “It will be ok” and “you will get through!” or my personal favorite “Just fix it, get it, buy it, Do it, etc.” are the expected response to today’s version of parental angst.  My guess is most of us reply in our heads “Yeah right or if I could!”.  Thus, ending most productive dialogue.  Just to add another layer to this, words like this can often stir up feelings of inadequacy and dread!  Not particularly useful when problem-solving. Not to mention potentially damaging too.  Wine anyone?  Though the intention may be to motivate, encourage, and make the problem seem less overwhelming, right?  It all depends on how you look at it. When faced with challenges big or small.  The strategies that we choose can make all the difference.  Parenting during a pandemic is like walking a tight rope with no net! Families are being forced to face challenges head-on in real-time with limited resources, financially and emotionally which is a big game-changer when trying to problem-solve or resolve conflict peacefully. The good news? We are all in it together and together we are better!

When breaking down a problem that needs attention, it is helpful to first allow yourself time to take in the information.  Usually before the wine kicks in.  Give yourself a pause even if only for a second or two before reacting. This allows the brain and heart a moment to get on the same page so to speak. A moment’s pause can change perspectives and outcomes dramatically.  Time is a valuable commodity that is often undervalued. Pandemics have a way of stopping us in our tracks and forcing a pause, time to reevaluate priorities and for some a Mind Shift! How do we come out of this crisis a better version of ourselves? How do we give our children the tools that they need to not only cope with their new situations but come out stronger! More resilient… confident capable. Ready to contribute first within our own families and later when appropriate within their peer communities.

What do we mean by resilience?   What does it look like in the real world, in times of crisis?  We often hear sayings Like “Community Strong” or “Smith Family Strong” which when we hear them gives us feelings of belonging and strength! Knowing we are not in it alone can boost our courage to face what comes as well as provide a sense of relief that we can make it through whatever obstacle was in our path!  We all need encouragement to keep us moving forward!  We just need to take that saying and give it life, meaning, and depth when we are dealing with our children during a crisis! Here are a few suggestions that can help build competence and emotional well-being for both our children and us.

Parental Resilience is defined as the ability to constructively cope with and bounce back from all types of challenges. Creatively solving problems, knowing when to reach out and seek help when needed, building trusting relationships, and maintaining a positive attitude.  The last part is particularly challenging when our go-to comforts are not available for us to draw upon.  As resources dwindle and human beings are being pushed to the brink of exhaustion. Words without concrete support to hold them up or actionable next steps to take toward resolution have a real-life boomerang effect that we must recognize for what they are.  Our new responsibilities.  Words without actions are empty because they are out of reach, out of touch, and often anxiety-producing.  Creating a mind shift by facing parental stress head-on with constructive tools that build strength and mental toughness is the only solution!

Working closely with families of essential workers through this crisis has taught me things that I will never forget.  My families are a daily reminder that how we respond to stress is more important than the source of the stress when it comes to determining healthy outcomes. Our children are watching! If you model proper safety practices like healthy eating, proper handwashing routines, work/play balance, open communication, and rest/ relaxation your child will mimic you in most cases and reap the benefits! These are the building blocks that allow our children to become independent leaders while learning the process of helping others deal with new situations positively.  Children are missing the comfort of predictable daily routines and human connection as are we.  They are looking to us for answers and support as they try to cope with so much change, loss, and grief.  So questions are inevitable but also a sign of trusting relationships! If a child feels acknowledged and safe? They will ask questions!

Some children may need some help along the way as they search for words to express what they are feeling. Keep it Simple and answer what is asked as best as you can. Try to resist the urge to elaborate whenever possible. By not elaborating we respect the child’s natural curiosity and avoid the “landmines” of opening a conversation which your child may not be ready for at this time. Trust your parenting and have faith that your child can deal with new and unfamiliar situations with you as their “go-to person.” Family Strong!

 

Dianne Galante former Infant/ToddlerEarly Childhood Program Development Specialist.  NYS Health and Safety Curriculum Approved Trainer. PITC and Touchpoints Community Trainer. Former Contributor to LI Parent Magazine.  Nanny and a Mama!  

Perfectly Imperfect! 

What to do with feelings that you feel?


Part 1 of a 3 Part Series About our Kids and Families Fighting an Epidemic.

Sitting and considering what I have wanted to say for some time now has become a new hobby.  I have stayed quiet but why? I am not so sure.  My best guess is everything changed in what seems like a split second and there are forces at work that may or may not have been building to this point for hundreds of years.  And today life as we knew it became different and to most of us brand new!  What will be no one really knows just yet.  But my new exercise is looking for comparisons.

 

I find myself comparing it to the popular children’s song used to help children acknowledge and navigate their emotions in a constructive way. What to do with the Mad that you feel? From Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Or the children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day. Only in the 2020 version, that day lasts for what seems like an eternity! Much of what we do know about this pandemic is that many of us are having tremendous trouble dealing with the new realities.  While some of us have sprung into action and do what we can to help us gain some sense of control or normalcy in the face of chaos.  Others are frozen in place.  Looking for simple and creature comforts that give us solace.  Some find their comfort denying the realities of what this global pandemic is doing to our loved ones, our finances, our self-identity, our role within our family, and well-being!  But one thing is certain that these are not normal times for us or our families.  So, what do we do to keep ourselves and our families intact with so many unknowns?

 

 Give yourself permission to feel exactly as you do at this moment. Free yourself of unrealistic expectations and undue pressures. Recognize that we are all in it together now whether we want to be or not.  And what we do today will have a direct effect on what our tomorrow looks like. The good news? The Universe is giving us a pause, a reset from the over-scheduled, highly pressurized existences we have all become so accustomed to.   But it doesn’t have to be all bad!

 

While most of us have traded commutes for working at home.  We have been reacquainted with the way families once were!   The resistant child that drags on and then frantically runs to the bus stop has been replaced with late breakfasts of whatever makes them feel just a bit better within all the new scenarios.   Work/Family balance has become an art that some of the most accomplished among us are having trouble navigating.  But it also creates a unique chance to do today for ourselves and our families things that will help our kids get through this and thrive!  These are hard times indeed.  But some answers can be remarkably simple! 

 

 The way I see it, there are a few main themes that help me to organize my thoughts. Thoughts become Actions. Actions have consequences for the good and for bad.  But we should intend to choose carefully and move purposefully.  While allowing ourselves the space to be imperfect!  For me, the themes are Resilience, Flexibility, Real Support with Concrete Solutions, Connection, and Competence. And being totally honest those priorities change in the order of importance depending on the day and sometimes even the hour! Depending on what is coming at me! Dianne’s life today is really not much different than dealing with an unpredictable toddler!  Behaviors that we sometimes use to cope with change, loss, fear, instability, and sometimes downright panic are pretty similar!  Do you know how some days you just never quite know which little person you will be dealing with? The unpredictable behavior and intense emotions?  All of the drama, the tantrums, all of it!  Wrapped up in the most adorable intense little humans we know. When faced with some of the feelings described people often seek what’s familiar to face the unknown. Comfort!  And that is exactly what your children look to you for! 

 

Be it through destructive or constructive routines. That Toddler experiences some of those very emotions on a much more simplistic level and they are looking to you to be their Co Regulator in new situations.  Their guide if you will. Their go-to person to help them organize and soothe their emotions. A primary focus of toddlerhood is self-identity. We as adults are being somewhat forced to look at our own self-identity too. Who are we in the face of crisis and what will our family work balance look like when this is all over? Will our children come out of this pandemic as competent, capable human beings with a true understanding of what empathy and compassion look like in the real world?  Will they be prepared for the lessons of tomorrow some parents are literally teaching them?  And are they armed with the tools they need to adapt, apply new knowledge, and make it meaningful?   And how do we help? 

 

The first step could be making experiences memorable. If it means something to me?  My actions support that emotion!  In other words, we may not remember what you said but we will definitely remember how you made me feel.  Especially in times of stress and grief.  For some, it could be trying not to appear as stressed to our children as we actually are.  Lest they pick up on our emotions.  And for some?  It may be just being yourself.  This can be looked at as both a test and a new opportunity to connect with those closest to us in a way our parents may or may not have been able to connect with us.  But even in quarantine remember your importance and value has never been higher as a parent.   

 

 

Dianne Galante former Infant/ToddlerEarly Childhood Program Development Specialist.  NYS Health and Safety Curriculum Approved Trainer. PITC and Touchpoints Community Trainer. Former Contributor to LI Parent Magazine.  Nanny and a Mama! 

 

 

Dr. Edward Tronick is Director of the Child Development Unit and Distinguished Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is a research associate in Newborn Medicine.  Lecturer at Harvard Medical School.  An associate professor at both the Graduate School of Education and the School of Public Health at Harvard. A member of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute.  Past member of the Boston ‘Process of Change’ Group and a Founder and faculty member of the Touchpoints program who has been studying the effects of distracted parenting since the 1970s. His research has even greater meaning now in the age of social media. The ” Still Face Experiment” studied newborn babies up to 4 months engaging with their parent to see what happens to the baby when the parent does not respond to the baby’s attempts to interact.  See the updated experiment( with dads) on the bottom page link.  

 

The most recent studies show that children as young as 4 months showed signs of emotional distress much quicker after the experiment was repeated a second time. The experiment lasts about 3 minutes.  And during that time we can see the babies show signs of high stress and even lose the ability to control their own bodies! More importantly, the study highlights each time the parent/child reunion happens the Reunion is less than the initial coming together!  The joy, excitement, comfort, stability, and the beauty of that moment?  All lessened with each impending interaction.  And as a parent?  That is all of the good stuff!

 

What happens as the distraction and inattentiveness are repeated is the beginning pattern of a loosened bond.  Children show signs through their behavior of becoming weary, cautious, and sometimes even anxious. Will my mommy or daddy pay attention to me? Will they see all of the amazing new things that I’ve learned? Will they stay with me?  So one can only imagine what this is like for a child who doesn’t get that beautiful reunion of the child-parent coming together again and doing the things that they normally do together? What’s Truly Happening inside of your child’s thoughts?  What Impact will these repeated distractions and inattentiveness have on the Parent-Child Relationship? And most important?  What Happens to all the Good Stuff? 

 

Here’s What We Know… 

We know that children can have difficulty trusting people in their world.  That creates ADULTS who can have difficulty cultivating relationships!  When a child doesn’t feel safe and secure?  The ability to explore and learn can be impacted too! They often show signs of emotional distress in unfamiliar situations,  becoming isolated from friends and family. With Prolonged exposure to distracted/disengaged parents having lifelong effects on their relationships. 

 

Is this leaving them at a disadvantage in social, school,  and workplace environments?  Are our children a greater risk of physical harm from distracted parenting as parents miss a child’s attempt at risk-taking behaviors. Increasing the risk of falls etc?  Maybe.  But it is very important to recognize that multiple research studies have shown time and time again parents who are distracted by cell phones and other forms of digital distractions are MORE LIKELY to PUNISH their child more harshly for minor “typical” kid mischief! 

 

 In other words,  distracted parents issue more harsh punishment for things that we expect kids to do or get in to!  Will get into whether or not their parents are distracted!   Stuff little kids do as they figure out what is ok and what is not!   Which are in reality Natural teachable moments that happen everyday parents can use to share our values and make learning meaningful to our kids are being missed!

 

Think back to the important lessons that you remember as a child? Now.   Why does that moment stand out for you? Take a minute.  For me personally and I’m sure most of us mama’s out there.  It was because it was REAL and RELATABLE for US!  Important enough to remember that moment in time. So, it’s not a big leap to wonder what can happen to children if these moments are either met with harsh punishment or worse?  Missed all together because we were distracted by social media. See A Child’s Take here…

 

 

Even in an ever-changing social dynamic.  The need to interact in the future in public and private settings is an essential social skill set!  Even one with mobile phones and technologies at the center of all things.  And especially for families where distracted parenting is the norm.

 

Studies that have shown distracted parents often respond with anger at their child’s attempts for attention as we discussed.  Instead of healthy engagement when the child is showing behaviors that tell us he/ she is emotionally fragile or stressed.  When the child feels no one is listening or ” understands what we are going through”   It creates an environment where it less likely for young children to trust the adults around them.  Or those that they can keep them safe from harm.  Us.  And most importantly, it teaches them their questions and concerns aren’t worthy of being heard!  The impact this will have on our society as these children move through life feeling isolated and alone is the only thing we cannot be sure of.

 

The lessons infants learn before they have fully developed their own vocabularies are the building blocks for their futures.  Their interactions with others and the way they learn especially can be impacted by repeated consistent exposure to inattentive distracted parenting experiences. To put it simply.  What we do today can have life long impacts on how our children think, behave and learn. How they see us as parents?  And what they Think matters!  It is the foundation for Trusting Parent-Child Relationships and sets the tone for all other relationships throughout life. Relationships with Friends, Co-workers, Authority Figures, etc all are rooted in the parent-child relationship. Will We Be Present or Distracted? The Choice is Yours to make! As for our Children, The Time is Now! And They Can not Wait!    

3 Tips You can start TODAY to help you tune out, and Tune In!   Part 3

Try This…Not That! What works Better for Baby and You! 

  • Be Patient. Sometimes it’s Best not to keep pressuring your child to eat certain foods. 
  • Be Consistent. Try offering a variety of foods over a longer period of time 
  • Give it Time. It Can take over 25 times for a child to try and taste food before it becomes part of their daily meal plan. 
  • Tune In! Pay attention to the colors your child likes. Buy and Prepare foods of those colors, prepared in easy kid-friendly ways! 
  •  Keep Growing. See What’s Cooking at Mama’s for more Kid Friendly Cooking Ideas and tips! 

Oh C’mon! Why Wont You Eat That? Real Talk about Toddlers and Nutrition….

Food Selectivity & Food Sensory in Healthy Toddlers: How to Tell The Difference?                                                     

                                                                               Laura Lynn Iacono MS, RD-Pediatric Nutritionist

Early childhood is a period when children experience new foods, tastes, and textures. Parents of toddlers and young children often describe their children as “picky eaters”, refusing to try or eat a variety of foods. Picky eating is not uncommon and can be age-appropriate among young children who are typically developing. However, the extent of that pickiness if severe can result in nutritional deficiencies affecting normal growth and development over time. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your child is getting enough nutrient-rich foods to meet his or her daily energy and nutrition needs.

Hmmm…So you are probably saying to yourself now, ok how do I do that? Good question? 

When it comes to eating at the dinner table, this can be a challenge. It is not uncommon to hear a parent say “if she eats a yogurt, I’m happy or if he takes a few bites of his broccoli, potatoes or meat that is good enough at least it’s something right? Or if he or she is hungry a little later they can eat their favorite snack before bedtime?  Perhaps this sounds like you? 

Do you go off wondering if this consistent kind of eating is really ok for your child? If so, here are some ways below that may help you determine what kind of eater your child is and if there is a problem?

Distinguish what Type of Eater your child is?

There are two types of eaters when it comes to nutritional therapy:

  • The first type is what I call a “Picky Eater.” Picky eaters are clinically defined as children who have a healthy attitude towards food and incorporate more than 30 foods in their repertoire.  These are children who will eat a decent amount of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, some dairy or dairy alternative, etc.  Their “pickiness” is generally caused more by behavioral problems rather than sensory issues. Allowing your child to go too long without eating, eat too frequently(graze) or not eat enough of a variety of foods at a meal can cause drops or spikes in blood sugar, affect energy levels and alter internal hunger cues that can result in mood and behavior changes in your child.
  • On the flip side, some children are what I call “Problem Feeders.” Problem feeders are children who have less than 20 foods in their repertoire.  This is generally due to either hypersensitivity or a hypo-sensitivity issue.

Eating differences between Hypo and Hypersensitive eaters

Problem feeders encounter special challenges at the dinner table.  Typically, these children have a hypersensitive sense of smell and will gravitate towards foods that are blander and or only eat foods from one food group.  These foods include chicken, bread, pasta, more “white types of foods”. Something that may taste normal to you or me, does not, in fact, taste normal for a child with hyper-sensory issues.  The smell of the particular food may be overwhelming which would have a negative impact on taste as well.  The utter thought or mention of some foods can be scary to them. If the food was introduced with a negative association or connotation the child may avoid it all together based on a bad experience. Sometimes when children are sick and vomit a particular food, they never want to eat it again, as they may think that the particular food made them sick which is more often not the case and the food can be reintroduced at a later time when the child is feeling much better and no longer sick.

Children who are more hypersensitive tend to gravitate more towards foods that are stimulatory.  They may enjoy spicy foods like hot sauce, wings, pepper, etc.  These foods are actually beneficial because they are stimulatory to the brain. In addition, a variety of ethnic foods can be introduced such as; Mexican, Indian, Greek and or Italian

Tips for Sensory Sensitive Eaters:

Kids with sensory issues may be more adventurous in their eating if allowed to make their own food, separate food or to create shapes out of their food.  Anabel Karmel has some excellent books which teach you to get your children involved with cooking.  This type of involvement will also allow your child to develop maturity around smelling, tasting and touching food.  Another great book is  Ruth Yaron’s Super Baby Food.  Even if not for babies, there are many excellent recipes for children with food sensory issues.  Finally,  Food Chaining is another excellent book that can help you if you feel you need more insight and understanding about your child gravitating toward being a picky or problem feeder. Should you feel your child’s nutritional status, height, weight and continued growth and development are at risk, contact your child’s pediatrician and or a pediatric dietitian for further guidance and intervention.

Some ideas for sensory-friendly foods that your child may like:

  • Depending on your child’s food texture preference. Serve either soft foods made using a food processor like creamy chicken salad or vegetables and proteins hidden in dips or for those who like a crunchy texture, serve fresh raw vegetables vs cooked or baked potato wedges instead of mashed potatoes. You can also add healthy ingredients into breads and muffins. However, I don’t recommend sneaking or hiding foods in other foods your child eats as that may teach them to distrust you in some way and possibly refuse foods that they do like for fear of getting something mixed in that they don’t like at that juncture in time.
  • Let your child pick the condiment! Sometimes it helps to temper overwhelming smells or textures with a sauce or condiment of choice.  This will give your child some control and help to introduce new foods while being paired with something familiar.
  • If your child is color picky when it comes to eating? Try asking your child in general, what their five favorite colors are and then buy those colored foods and prepare them in a kid-friendly way that your child would desire. If your child likes some food groups mixed together Smoothies are also a great alternative and can be made to be a preferred color using fruits like berries or greens like spinach. You can also encourage new colors with a game using a chart to introduce new colors and reward accordingly.

It’s best to stop pressuring your child to eat new foods and instead encourage your child to explore new foods at his or her own pace. It can take your child up to 25 times to try and taste food prepared in different ways before adopting it into their daily meal plan. This will allow him or her to have more control which will ultimately lead to the development of healthy eating habits. Be patient and consistent over time when offering new foods to your child to try.

 

Click for Related Recipes!

 

 

Deborah A. Chalifoux, MA, CCC-SLP is a Speech Pathologist @Center for Communication Care in Babylon, NY.

 

 

 

 

 

What IS Childhood Apraxia of Speech?


Apraxia is a motor speech disorder that makes it hard to speak. The cause of Apraxia is unknown. If a child has apraxia of speech, it can take a lot of work for them to learn to say sounds and words better. Speech-Language pathologists or SLP’s can help!

 

 

There are muscles in the mouth and jaw that are used to make sounds. Messages that tell these muscles how and when to move need to go from your brain to your mouth in order for speech to occur. In some children, the messages do not get through correctly. Although their muscles are not weak, the child might not be able to move their lips or tongue in the right ways. This is because the brain is having difficulty coordinating the appropriate speech muscles. As a result, these children have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words, and sometimes might not be able to say much at all. When this occurs, a child is said to be experiencing “Apraxia of Speech”, or “Childhood Apraxia of Speech” (CAS).

 

Signs and Symptoms

 

A child with CAS may show some or all of the signs below, as not all children present the same. CAS could be suspected if your child is older than 3 years and:

 

  • does not always say words the same way every time;
  • tends to put the stress on the wrong syllable or word;
  • distorts or changes sounds;
  • or say shorter words more clearly than longer words

 

Children with CAS may have other problems, including:

 

  • difficulty with fine motor skills;
  • delayed language; or
  • problems with reading, spelling, and writing.

 

Seeing a Professional

 

If you are concerned that your child may have CAS, consult your local school district’s office of special services, or find an ASHA certified-SLP in your area on the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) website: www.asha.org/profind. A certified-SLP who has knowledge and experience with CAS can conduct a full evaluation of your child’s speech and language.  He or she can diagnose CAS and rule out other speech disorders. If you suspect CAS, you should also consult with your pediatrician, who can check for any medical problems. In addition, it is also important to have your child’s hearing checked by an audiologist, as a child with a hearing loss may have more trouble learning to talk.

 

Benefits of Speech Therapy

 

CAS is sometimes called “developmental apraxia.” Even though the word “developmental” is used, CAS is not a problem that children outgrow. A child with CAS will not learn speech sounds in typical order and will not make progress without treatment. If your child is diagnosed with CAS, an speech therapy treatment plan can be made with your SLP. It can take a lot of work, but with the appropriate treatment, a child’s speech can improve!

 

Other Resources

 

The above information was taken from the ASHA website.  To read ASHA’s full article on CAS, please visit: www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/childhood-apraxia-of-speech/

 

Additional websites with info on CAS are:

www.apraxia-kids.org

www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/apraxia-speech

 

–Deborah A. Chalifoux, MA, CCC-SLP

 

 

Elaine Langsam is a Certified Facilitator and Indeependent Consultant.  

IS baby sign for you?

Baby sign language has exploded in the past few years.  More and more people are aware
And eager to learn more about what makes it so amazing!  And I want to give you a little insight into the wonderful World of Baby Sign Language and its benefits!
  • Communicating with signs actually speeds up learning to talk!
  • It reduces tears, tantrums and frustration.
  • It strengthens the parent/infant bond.
  • It shows how smart babies really are.
  • It allows babies to share their worlds.
  • It boosts self- esteem.
In fact, using signs is one of the best things parents can do to support their child’s development.

 

 

 

Babies & Books: A ” Go To”Guide

 

 

 

Babies & Books Go Hand In Hand


Raising Readers in A Digital World

By now I’m pretty sure that you have heard that reading with babies is a great thing to do! The benefits to both the baby and you have been talked about for decades. However, if we are being totally honest the whole experience can be intimidating and sometimes downright overwhelming for some of us! Feeling silly reading to your baby? Feeling unsure about what to read? Wondering how to get your baby to stop chewing on the corners of the book while you try to read? Been there…done that! I have some tried and true tips and tricks to help make the experience a positive one for both Mama and baby! 

 

Sharing a story together can be a positive experience for both of you! Research shows that introducing babies as young as 4 months to books and stories can increase your child’s vocabulary. In fact, recent research has shown that children who come from homes where they were read to early and often have an increased vocabulary.  On average, about 20 million more words vs. children in families where reading and storytelling are not part of their day. 20 million more words by 3 years old! Sounds worth it to me! 

The benefits of increased vocabulary aside, there are many more positives to come from reading aloud to your little one! Setting aside time to share a story or two with your baby helps to build a connection between mother and baby that comes from shared experiences. As you and your child read together, your baby is taking part in a learning activity that can grow into a love of stories and learning too! 

 

Reading aloud to your little one doesn’t have to be an overwhelming experience either. There are a few simple tips to keep in mind. Just like any other new experience, it is best to have a plan and be ready for reading! So how does a mom get ready to read? Simple! Find a book that you love and that excitement and joy will be shared by your baby too! They are like little sponges, they can feel your excitement and ” read” your emotions too! So if you’re nervous they will feel it and respond to that feeling. RELAX  and they will too! Here are some tips to help create a joyful experience for both you and baby too! Let’s Get Ready to Read! 

 

Lap Reading is ideal: So find a cozy chair or comfy couch to sit together. Do this daily in the same space to encourage repetition and make it a familiar experience for baby!

Keep it Comfy & Familiar: Children thrive when they are familiar with a routine, feel safe and loved. Learning increases when children feel secure. In other words, the more comfortable you feel the better you can take in new information and make it meaningful. 

Keep it Short & Simple: For babies, it’s best to start with cloth books or vinyl bath books or chunky board books with simple words and colorful pictures. 

Skipping Pages is OK Try not to take it too seriously! Although many things are happening in that real life moment with your little one, the most important is the connection between you and your child. The feelings created while sharing a book will last a lifetime. The shared smiles, laughs, suspense, and wonder of it all will remain long after the book is finished. So relax and feel free to edit as needed. Please be mindful that the story has a beginning, middle and an end( which will show itself as your child grows with sequences and math skills too)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Studies have shown distracted parents often miss critical signs or social cues…

 

 

 

 

 

Distracted parenting: What’s Happening  

   Here? 

Social Media is without a doubt a very useful tool to communicate with the world on a grand scale! FB  and Instagram posts have become a part of our day and replaced many real-life interactions with families. This phenomenon is known as Technology Induced Inattentive Parenting.   In fact, over the last 5 years, studies on the subject have multiplied!  Making the Internet and modern parents usage of it, the focus.

The impact distracted inattentive parenting has on social development has been and is being researched right now.  And some results are not good.  Delays in speech/ language and cognition.  Anxiety and depression.  And some behavioral disorders.  As well as a higher percentage of injuries associated with Repeated incidents labeled as “inattentive parenting”.  But without the internet?  You probably aren’t reading this now!

The answer to parents is a better balance.  But how?  We know less interaction and response to the child’s attempts to ask questions has a negative effect on a child’s development. Study after study is finding evidence that the increased use of cell phones during family time is showing negative impacts on parent-child relationships. And studies have now shown, the use of handheld technology is common today for over 60% of children in the  6 to12 age group.  That group when polled reported their parents are often distracted by cell phones or tablets when children try to ask parents questions.  This is not the most positive trend.

A child’s behavior is his/her language. Non Verbal children especially have additional challenges in expressing their frustration and emotional distress.  Being distracted by technology is the same as being inattentive to the many cues children use to communicate. Can you imagine the impact on babies and toddlers? 

Babies come into the world wired to communicate.  Newborn infants instinctually look to their parents to begin to understand the sights and sounds of their brand new world!   So much is happening for them all at the same time. Learning to trust and learn from the adults in their world who meet their needs for feeding, diaper changing, comfort, and learning too! If a child cries it is to communicate a message to his/ her parent and how that parent responds sets a tone. This is the basis for trust in all parent-child relationships! Babies as young as newborns; look to their parents’ facial expressions to gain important information and most social cues!  Being distracted by our phones as the baby is attempting similarly sends a message. 

Studies have shown distracted parents often miss critical signs or social cues from their babies before crying. Putting the child’s safety and emotional health at risk. For them, interaction is necessary for their Survival!  Repeated incidents of disengagement can have lasting impacts on parent-child bonding and relationships later in life. 

So is the answer to throw away all of our devices?

Probably too extreme.  But, there is a very sound reason to consider creating a better balance between parenting and helping our children flourish.  And extremely important reasons why! 

Taking the time to ignore a text to interact with an infant may be potentially devastating for the text sender.  But for your child?  It is another example of paying attention to the smallest thing can help avoid thousands in therapy! Or at least shift the focus of conversation! 

In part two of this Mama talk?  More about what helps our kids grow.  And ways to avoid the most common detractors of a Parent’s attention!   


Dianne Galante is a Former NYS Infant/Toddler Resource Network Specialist for Long Island.