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Get Your Child's Attention

Before making a request of your child, get your child’s attention by crouching down to your child's level, gently placing a hand on your child's shoulder, moving in to your child's visual field, and calling your child's name (try not to overuse this one!).

Increase Your Child’s Motivation to Learn

Arrange your home environment such that your child’s favorite toys are in sight but out of reach. This might include placing toys in clear plastic bins or on a top shelf. Not only does this arrangement create more learning opportunities for the child to request items but limits distractions. If your child has access to all of his/her toys all the time, there is less motivation for your child to attend to the Therapist and instruction. Increase motivation and attending by making simple environmental arrangements.

Catch Your Child Being Good

Each day, catch your child being good. Praise and reinforce your child for the behaviors that you want to see more often. You will be surprised to see these behaviors increase over time.

Teach Small Steps

When teaching a new skill to your child, start out with small steps and reinforce your child's efforts. This allows your child to experience frequent success.


Ball poppers are great toys for creating language opportunities with your child. Some words that you can use are: ball, pop, on, push, and down. It also helps with eye and hand coordination. The balls tend to pop up and bounce off, which provides you with natural opportunities to gain shared control without getting into a power struggle.

Make Eating New Foods Fun

Parents may experience pressure to get their children to try new foods. Sometimes it is good to let them just play with food first. Some fun play food ideas include:

Cut thick slices of ham or other types of sandwich meat into fun shapes like animals with cookie cutters.

The animals can make sounds or you can ask your child to kiss the doggie. Doing so can reduce your child’s anxiety level of having to eat the food, if he/she is just expected to play with it.

Dye cooked spaghetti with food coloring and have your child pretend that they are worms. This is a fun filled activity that also creates sensory play opportunities.

Cheese cubes can be used as blocks. Your child can create a tower with the cheese cubes.

It’s always more fun when something has a face. Using Toy Story 3™ as an inspiration, you can use veggies and give them faces. Improvise by using a potato or zucchini as a head. Using raisins as eyes, cherry tomatoes as a nose and a piece of carrot as a mouth can make anything look so much better.

Toilet Training

Make toilet training fun.  Bring a toy or activity for your child while sitting on the toilet.  For those children who will sit for only a few seconds on the toilet, try offering a reward for increasing time sitting on the toilet.  Have a special reward for successful voiding or defecating in the toilet.

Some children may not even want to approach sitting on the toilet.  You can desensitize them to sitting on the toilet.  Try having the child just sit on the toilet with their clothes on for a few seconds/minutes. Gradually have them to sit on the toilet with just the diaper on, then fade to sitting on the toilet with the diaper off.  Remember to offer a reward for sitting.  Once your child is comfortable with sitting on the toilet, you can start a toileting schedule.

End the Day with a Positive Note

When ending what may have seemed like a difficult day, try listing three things that went well. For example, What cute thing happened? What new skill was used? What strategies were you able to implement successfully?

Parents-Pamper Yourselves

We spend a lot of time focusing on things that we should do as parents and adults to help our kids. One of the best things that you can do is to relax and do something nice for yourself. Maybe go on a date with your spouse or friend, take a bath, go to the gym or go to the movies with your friends. Taking care of yourself and doing things that you enjoy will help you to feel more relaxed which will ultimately make you a better parent.
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