5 Strategies to Raising a Confident Kid

HOW TO PROMOTE INDEPENDENCE IN YOUR CHILD

I’ve spent years watching kindergarten students acclimate to the classroom. Some students set themselves apart from their peers immediately:

  • they are very verbal
  • they can already read or demonstrate strong foundational literacy skills
  • they have great drawing or writing skills

But then- there are the little kids who have more common sense, can problem solve and are very self-sufficient in the classroom.

Quite often, these students are some of the most successful learners!  

What sets self-sufficient students apart from the rest? 

    • They don’t wait for an adult to help them
    • They are more confident in trying things themselves 
    • They are not afraid to take responsibility for getting a job done
    • They may not have the answer to every academic question but they are the first to volunteer for anything

The benefits of building confidence in a young child

These confident kids know where to find supplies in the classroom.  They make great messengers, and peer buddies for less confident kiddos.   They’re not afraid to take a risk or try something new.

As classroom learners, these are a great skill to possess at a young age.  Independence and confidence will help young kids excel as students.  

START EARLY

Even toddlers love to “help” mom or dad. Let them!  By giving them small jobs at an early age, you are setting them up for a bright future as an independent preschooler.

HOW TO PROMOTE INDEPENDENCE IN YOUR CHILD

Do a little less FOR them.  This will help your child learn to do more on their own.

1.  Give up Control of the Schoolbag: When a child packs his or her own school bag, they know what’s there and what to give to the teacher.  Rather than emptying and filling a child’s folder for them, let them take ownership.  In preschool, they barely have anything in there.  Tell them about the permission slip or notebook so they become responsible to give it to their teacher.  Then let them be in charge of it.  This means wearing it or carrying it, too. *If the backpack is too big for them to do it by themselves, it’s too big! 

“Let’s face it,  it’s faster and easier to do certain things FOR your children.”

But truthfully, you are doing them a disservice.  If you do too much for your child and make everything “easy” for them, you may be creating a more dependent child.   Plus, this makes more work for you!   

2. Resist the Urge to Get Your Kid Dressed:  If a child is able to perform a dressing task, they should be doing it every day!  Life gets hectic, of course.  But try to give your child enough time in the morning to do the parts that they can.  Rushing through the task of getting dressed doesn’t help you in the long run.  Again, it keeps this chore on your never-ending list of morning to-dos!

Think about it:

Aren’t you tired?  Why are you creating a cycle where you are doing more than you need to?  Back off, Momma! It’s ok! 

3. Doing Homework:  If kids can do homework themselves, let them!  Before you explain what to do, ask your child to explain to you, what needs to be done on the page.  This improves their language and thinking skills at the same time.  If they know what to do, let them work independently! If your child needs guidance, only help on the first few questions.  Then back away and let them try on their own. Only give help when it is truly needed.

3. Checking Homework:  Let your kids do the first part of the page on their own and see if they are doing it correctly.  If they need some help, give it but don’t help too much. I don’t want to take away my kids’ thinking time.  Kids need more time than we do to think about the answers.  

If an answer is wrong, don’t tell them the right answer!  This takes away a great problem-solving opportunity.  Instead, say, “look at #3 again” or “read this question over one more time.”  Give your child the chance to decide what was wrong, why it is wrong and how to get the correct answer.  This is where the real thinking, learning, and carry over to other problems happen.  

GET THEM STARTED EARLY. THEY CAN PACK SNACK AS A TODDLER!

4. Lunch box:  Teach your child the best way to pack their own lunch box!  Let them choose their own snack (from approved choices).

They don’t need to make their own lunch yet, just let them learn how to pack it.  This teaches children to be responsible, manage their time in the morning and hopefully make good food choices.  

Plus, it sets them up for the future of making their own lunch, taking yet ANOTHER chore away from you…

ASK THEM INSTEAD OF TELLING THEM

5. Being prepared for preschool:  Rather than saying, today is Tuesday, you need to remember your “Show and Tell”.  Slowly shift the remembering and responsibility to your child. Ask him, What day is it?  What do you need to remember on Tuesdays?  This small change helps your child learn to think and plan ahead.

When you spend your career studying 5-year-olds, these subtle differences are noticeable even in kindergarten!  Sometimes birth order plays a part in this; but not always.  I’ve seen this capable confidence in firstborns, last borns, and only children. 

My belief is that it has more to do with parenting styles than other factors.  

DO LESS, Mom and Dad!

Try to do a little less for your toddler or preschooler so he or she learns to do more on their own.  When children can think and problem-solve, it helps them to be more confident and independent.

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About the Author:

Gloria is a Juggling Teacher and Mother of four, with a primary focus in Special Education, Technology and Early Childhood Education. She has over 30 years of classroom experience and strives to incorporate the SmartBoard, iPad and all available technology into her lessons. Most important of all, she wants her students to have fun while they are learning.

After many wonderful years in the classroom, Gloria is now beginning her second career. Her new activities include working as a Pre-School Educational Technology Teacher and Itinerant Teacher for Special needs students and their families. Gloria also creates products for her TeachersPayTeachers store and writes. Her favorite pastimes include Paddle Boarding, yoga and reading at the beach!

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Toileting and Sensory Processing

toileting, potty training, pooping, teaching to poop, poop in potty, poop and sensory issues

Potty-training can be a challenge for parents, but it’s also an important part childhood development. The normal struggle can be even more difficult when there are sensory processing issues. Recognizing that they need to go, wearing big girl or big boy underwear, and being able to use different toilets can all be impacted by sensory processing.

Why does Sensory processing matter?

Toileting requires a significant amount of body awareness.  Children have to understand how their body is feeling, learn how to release their bowel and bladder muscles in order to go, and feel that they have “finished” and their bowel or bladder is now empty.  

Sensory processing is a natural part of the toileting process. 

A bathroom environment can be overstimulating to start with.   We receive sensory information from our eyes, ears, skin, muscles, and joints and our brain’s job is to organize the information, select the important parts, and disregard the rest. When a child’s sensory systems are functioning appropriately,  they are able to participate in activities of daily living such as potty-training.  However, if the sensory systems are not integrated properly, toileting can become problematic.  

Everything parents Need to know

  1. WHAT IS SENSORY PROCESSING?
  2. HOW SENSORY SYSTEMS RELATE TO TOILETING
  3. BODY AWARENESS NEEDED FOR TOILET TRAINING
  4. PROBLEMS
    1. POOR INTEROCEPTION
    2. SENSORY DEFENSIVENESS
    3. POOR REGISTRATION OF SENSORY INPUT
    4. SENSORY SEEKING
    5. SENSORY AVOIDING
  5. HOW TO HELP: 15 AMAZING STRATEGIES FOR TOILETING
  6. CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

what is Sensory Processing?

Sensory Processing refers to how the nervous system detects, regulates, interprets and responds to sensory information.  Sensory Processing is an important factor in considering a child’s attention, memory, behavior, and function (Ahn, Miller, Milberger, & McIntosh, 2004; Gardner &Johnson, 2013).   A child’s brain needs to be able to register sensory information from the environment and react appropriately to it.  If a child has difficulty regulating and processing sensory information, they may have Sensory Processing Disorder.

Sensory Processing Disorder is a neurological disorder in which the sensory information that a child perceives results in abnormal responses.   Children who have difficulty processing sensory information often have inconsistent responses because they have a hard time discriminating between which sensory information is important and which can be ignored.  

It is important to note that many children (and adults for that matter) have difficulty with processing certain types of sensory input.  Typical things such as disliking certain smells or textures, feeling seasick on rides, or preferring certain foods do not necessarily mean that a child has sensory processing disorder. They may simply still be learning to process certain sensory stimuli.

toilet training, potty training, toileting readiness, developmental checklists

There are eight  sensory systems in our bodies:

  1. Tactile System (touch)
  2. Vestibular System (balance)
  3. Proprioceptive System (position in space)
  4. Olfactory System (smell)
  5. Visual System (sight)
  6. Auditory System (hearing)
  7. Gustatory System (taste)
  8. Interoceptive System (internal body awareness)

Interoception is our ability to sense what is going on inside our bodies internally.  It includes sensations such as thirst, hunger, fatigue, pain, breath, itchiness, nausea, temperature, etc.  It also includes our sense of if we have a full bladder or bowel, and if we have “released” it. (Garland, 2014).

An Explanation of the Sensory Systems related to Toileting

The proprioceptive, vestibular, and touch senses are primary influences on the integration of our senses.  The interoceptive sense also plays a crucial role in developing the foundational body awareness needed to function as a child.

When a child is unable to integrate and react to sensory information appropriately, the child will not interact with his environment in a functional manner.  He may have exaggerated responses to typical noises or sensations or withdraw from certain stimuli. The child cannot consistently process sensory information, so their responses will be inconsistent, too.

If the child has decreased body awareness, they may demonstrate an inefficient grading of force or movement.  For a boy, this may mean they have difficulty using the right amount of force when holding or aiming the penis.  This might result in a child pressing so hard that it’s difficult to pee,  holding too tightly, or having difficulty holding steady.

Our vestibular system helps us to maintain our balance. The fluid in our inner ear moves as our head moves, sending messages to our brain about where our body is in space (Abraham, 2002).   Some children with vestibular dysfunction present with “gravitational insecurity“, which makes them seek a secure position during activities. They may dislike swings, being picked up, or participating in activities in which they are not in control of their body in space.  These children might be fearful when attempting to sit on a “grown-up” toilet where their bottom is unsupported because they feel like they may fall.

Children with vestibular, tactile, and proprioception difficulties may have difficulty with eye-hand coordination and depth perception. It may be difficult for them to aim appropriately or estimate where to stand.

Many children with sensory processing difficulties have auditory sensitivities that interfere with toilet training.  Think of the loud echoes, flushing toilet, the hand dryers, etc.  Noises that are simply loud to an adult can be piercing to a child with auditory sensitivities.

Tactile sensitivities can interfere with toileting, too! Children may dislike the sensation of pooping, wiping, or even sitting on a hard seat.   If they are under-responsive to touch, they may not realize that they aren’t covering their hand properly with the toilet paper, they aren’t wiping well enough to clean themselves, or that they’ve soiled their clothing.

potty training, #functinalskillsforkids

Sensory Processing and Body Awareness needed for Toilet Training

When our body is able to receive and interpret the signals from our skin, muscles, and joints, we are able to feel and know what our body is doing without looking at it.  When a child has poor body awareness, it can lead to difficulty coordinating their body to do all of the components that are involved in toileting.   It is not automatic to feel the urge to go and just go to the bathroom.  Each step of the task must be thought out and carefully performed, so it is important to be patient.  It’s hard to know what to do if you can’t feel what you are supposed to feel!

Typically, toddlers and preschoolers spend a lot of time learning the “ins and outs” of toileting.   Children are expected to be toileting independently before entering Kindergarten.  Children with difficulties modulating sensory input find potty training to be a much bigger challenge than a typical child.  The bathroom can be an overstimulating environment, so asking a child with sensory integration difficulties to focus on the task at hand (ie; peeing or pooping) is a challenge if they are overwhelmed with fear or anxiety about other sensory signals they are receiving.  Problems with toileting and sensory processing might include (but not be limited to) the following:

Toileting and Sensory Processing Problems

1. Toileting and Sensory Processing Related to Poor Interoception

  • May be unaware that his bowel or bladder is full.
  • Feels that they need to go, but not be able to discriminate whether they need to urinate OR have a bowel movement.
  • Unable to “push” in order to go; don’t understand how to make those muscles work
  • Cannot feel that they have had an accident or that their clothes are soiled.
  • Unable to bend and reach behind them to properly wipe

2. Toileting and Sensory Processing Related to Sensory Defensiveness

  • Dislikes the feeling of “peeing” or “pooping” and withholds.
  • Fearful of falling into a regular sized toilet
  • Dislikes the feeling of wiping or being wiped.
  • Prefers the parent to wipe them
  • Does not like to wash their hands
  • Takes off all their clothes to use a toilet
  • Avoids flushing the toilet

3. Toileting and Sensory Processing Issues Related to Poor Registration of Sensory Input with a Hyperactive or Over-reactive Response

  • The child is fearful of the sensations involved when they pee or poop.
  • Reports that the act of “peeing” or “pooing” hurts terribly, crying, etc.
  • Extreme reaction to the sound of the flush or the air dryer
  • Gags, or chokes at the smell of the poop
  • Visually distracted by details in the bathroom, including lines in the tile, dust on the floor, etc.

4. Toileting and Sensory Processing Related to Sensory Seeking

  • Repetitively flushing the toilet
  • Fecal smearing
  • Repetitively having accidents in pants, enjoys the sensation
  • Playing in the water
  • Playing in the sink
  • Asks to use the toilet in public constantly

5. Toileting and Sensory Processing Issues related to Sensory Avoiding

  • Avoids wearing big girl or big boy underwear, prefers a diaper
  • Will tell you when the diaper needs to be changed, doesn’t want a wet diaper
  • Difficulty tolerating new bathrooms, public bathrooms, etc.
  • Covers ears when flushing, air hand dryer goes on, etc.
  • Holds nose for bowel movements
  • Avoids using certain toilets with “hard” seats
  • Avoids going into the bathroom, “sneaks off” to poop in diaper behind a couch, etc.

potty training, sensory processing

How to Help: 15 Amazing Strategies for Toileting

1. Try a  4 in 1 Stages Potty Seat which is closer to the ground and fits a smaller bottom. It also helps transition to use a grown-up toilet

2.  Try fun potty seats like this Race Car Potty and Character Underwear that are motivating!

3.  Try using flushable wipes and a Wipes Warmer to make the experience of wiping more enjoyable

* one consideration for this is that your child may begin to rely on it…. if you are out in public and don’t have warm wipes, will it be a problem?  Take that into consideration before making it part of your routine.  But if you are desperate, it’s worth a shot!

4.  Sing Songs to make toilet training more fun:

  • “Let it go! Let it go!”
  • “Push it out, Push it out, WAY OUT!”
  • “Pee Pee in the Potty, Pee Pee in the Potty!”
  • “I just want to Potty all the time, Potty all the time, Potty all the time!”

5.  Use painter’s tape to make a line for boys to know where to stand

6.  Offer Toilet Targets  or use goldfish crackers or fruit loops (get the pee in the hole!)

7.  For children who aren’t sure if they have to pee OR poop, let them sit.  It’s hard to tell which muscles are which.

8.  Provide an inviting environment depending on your child’s sensory needs:

  • For a sensory seeker, bright lights, fun music, and toys alerting aromatherapy (peppermint and eucalyptus).

  • For a  sensory avoider, soft lighting (night lights) and music, calming aromatherapy (lavender and chamomile).  *Click for more info about Aromatherapy

9.  Let your child leave the room before flushing if they are defensive, OR let your child choose if they flush or you do.

10.  Use earplugs to block the sounds, (especially in a public bathroom), OR keep post-its in your bag to put over the automatic sensor.

11.  Use a soft toilet seat.

12.  Keep a  Potty Training Chart   or offer Potty Reward Stickers for Boys or Girls

13.  Try a toileting schedule. Have your child sit on the toilet every 15 minutes for a few minutes. If they go, Wahoo! big Praise. If not, that’s ok, we’ll try again in 15 minutes.

14.  Provide a Kitchen Timer for set “potty” sitting times.  Let your child set the timer so they are a part of the process.

15.  If your child is fearful of the sensation of pooping in the toilet, have them help you dump the poop from the diaper into the toilet and then flush it.

Toileting and sensory issues

Toileting and Sensory Processing in Children with Special Needs

Very often problems with potty-training, such as accidents, difficulty recognizing if they have to go, struggles with hygiene, fear of flushing, and refusal to use the toilet are the result of an inefficient sensory processing system.  It is important to note that children with developmental delays and other diagnoses may need more time to be trained.   As parents and educators, it is essential to treat the process with patience.  Your child has a lot of information and sensory signals to make sense of and every child has to go at their own pace.  Do not feel the “peer pressure” from other parents that your child “should be” ready.

Sensory Processing Resources

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Additional Potty Training Resources

Establishing Toileting Routines for Children Tips – a Printable from the American Occupational Therapy Association

6 Tips for Successful Potty Training from the American Occupational Therapy Association

References

Abraham, M. C. (2002). In Pressnal D. O., Wheeler K. (Eds.), Addressing learning differences: Sensory integration; practical strategies and sensory motor activities for use in the classroom. Frank Schaffer Publications.

Ahn, R., Miller, L., Milberger, S., & McIntosh, D. (2004). Prevalence of parents’ perceptions of sensory processing disorders among kindergarten children.  American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 58, 287-293.

Crozier, S. C., Goodson, J. Z., Mackay, M. L., Synnes, A. R., Grunau, R. E., Miller, S. P., et al. (2015). Sensory processing patterns in children born very preterm. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 70.

Daunhauer, L., Fidler, D., & Will, E. (March 2014). School function in students with down syndrome. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(2):167-176. 

Garland, T. (2014). Self-regulation interventions and strategies. Eau Claire, WI: PESI Publishing & Media. Shelly J. Lane, PhD, OTR/L, FOATA, Isabelle Beaudry-Bellefeuille, MScOT; Examining the Sensory Characteristics of Preschool Children With Retentive Fecal Incontinence. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(Suppl. 1):6911500194p1. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-PO6099.

Functional Skills for Kids

Do you have an amazing toileting trick or tip? What potty training strategy helped your child?

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A Valentine’s Day Motor Monday: Super Simple Hand Strengthening

I have a confession: I love the Dollar Store.  I just do.

The problem is that it’s impossible to leave without a few extra things.

BUT – that’s how I ended up with my latest and greatest Valentine’s Motor Centers.  

I swear I just went in there for a couple of birthday cards, but when I saw the “seasonal section” filled with Valentine’s Goodies, I couldn’t resist.

These adorable pink and red Valentine’s Day “table scatter” hearts were the perfect size for little hands to work on grasping.  I just started adding to my basket.  

Sigh.

Why resist?  It’s for the children!

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A Quick & Easy Shoe-Tying Trick

A QUick & EAsy SHoe Tying Trick

Today’s Idea: Use two different color pipe cleaners taped to a table to teach your child how to tie a bow.

I’ve taught hundreds of children how to tie. One of the most difficult and frustrating things about tying is that children have to keep both hands on the laces at all times, or the laces will “flop” and you lose your “bow” or “loop”, etc. With pipe cleaners, the loops stay in position, even if the child takes their hands away. This helps them to see what the laces should look like, and makes it less frustrating.

 

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Best Baby Shower Gift Ever And It’s Not On The Registry

Baby shower gifts can be so dull and boring.  Finally, a different personal  baby shower gift that the new mom definitely didn’t register for, The Best Baby Shower Gift Ever


I have a confession:  I hate baby showers.

And bridal showers too.

I know it makes me a horrible  person.  And I am TRULY happy for my friend and their new milestone.  I just hate having to sit somewhere for four hours drinking punch with no liquor in it when I could be reading a book, going to yoga or cleaning out my closet.

I’m a terrible person.  I know.

BUT – I suck it up and do my womanly duty because it’s the right thing to do and I know my friend needs the loot.

Plus, I LOVE to give presents.  I always give my BEST EVER “Miss Jaime OT” baby shower gift. I’ve perfected it over the years and every one of my friends has gushed about how useful it was.   Plus, NO ONE thinks to register for it.

 I can’t wait to share it with you!

Every new mom registers for diapers, bottles, and sheets, etc.  They go up and down the aisles aiming their “gift gun” at all kinds of silly things that they may never end up using; noise machines, diaper genies, and special “baby” detergent.

BUT THEY ALWAYS FORGET THIS ESSENTIAL ITEM.

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Bluebee Pal

Bluebee Pals – for children who love to learn, play, and interact!

 

What should a parent do when their child isn’t interested in reading?

What if they aren’t prepared for kindergarten?

Will they ever learn their letters?

I just found the perfect solution to the disinterested child. A Bluebee Pal.

As an OT and a newly certified Assistive Technology provider, I am always looking for fun ways to incorporate interactive technology into to my sessions.  I often recommend educational apps and games to parents to help with follow through at home. Let’s face it: Kids love technology.    It’s important for them to still manipulate and play with toys, games, and puzzles, but a tablet or cell phone can be used in any location to work on almost any goal.

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unique teacher gift ideas

Teacher gifts that won’t break the bank


thanksteach

The holidays are here! The holidays are here!  Think of all the parties, the presents, the …stress!

Teachers are going nuts trying to get report cards done and review for tests in the middle of half days, plays, and holiday concerts.  Parents are going crazy arranging childcare for the week off, planning holiday dinners, decorating the house, and finding the perfect gift for their family members.

Who has time to think of a teacher gift?

First, it is absolutely not necessary to give a gift to any teacher or professional that works with your child. They are simply doing their job and they get paid to do so. However, when your child has a special connection with a staff member, or you know that someone has gone out of their way to help your child, some parents like to give a little something to say thank you.

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