Friday, March 13, 2015

3 Developmental Activities Commonly Sheltered From Our Tiny Tots

As a mother, I am constantly amazed by little things that I didn't think my little one could do, and what do ya know? After a little time and effort, viola! I am guilty of not letting her do certain things because it's too messy or seemingly dangerous. Totally guilty of that. Thankfully, I have a different perspective to balance my mommy point-of-view.

As a speech therapist, I routinely evaluate kiddos on their speech development, and with that, their global overall development is also looked at by a developmental therapist. Time and time again, I observe kiddos who haven't developed skills because of pure non-exposure. This is NOT meant to knock the parents down. After all, I appreciate and acknowledge your desire to not have your little one go tumbling down the stairs or pour grape juice all over the carpet. I get it. But these are some things that you can work on with them to help them safely develop these skills.

(Disclaimer: My kid is just past a year and a half, so this is where I'm talking about age wise. Also, some links for suggested products below may be affiliate links.)

Stairs. You would seriously think that our house is Fort Knox. We have 3 baby gates, mostly to keep my kid out of the dog food and to keep her from going up the stairs. When I am upstairs with her, I routinely put an additional baby gate at the top of the stairs just in case she gets out of my sight for a nanosecond and gets close to the stairs. I am horrified of her falling down the stairs! But we still work on it, because climbing stairs is something that she will need to know how to do out in the world. I don't want her scooting down the stairs in high school or something (kidding).

How we work on it: I work on it two separate ways.  - For safety, I have taught her to climb up the stairs on her hands and knees solo, and when she is at the top of the stairs, I have taught her to turn around and go down the stairs on her hands and knees backwards. I am in front of her on the stairs to keep her from falling. - For development, I have taught her to hold on the wall or my hand and walk up the stairs. I walk behind her in case she slips. I also will hold one hand. When we go down, I always hold her hand and position myself in front of her in case she falls.

Coloring. Work on their little hand grasp by letting them color! I know it's horrifying because you don't want that stuff on your walls eventually, but it's important to let them scribble and color with crayons/markers/whatever.

How we work on it: Another where I am totally guilty of this. It is so much easier to let her play less supervised with a puzzle or something else that won't mark up my walls. So, we have done a couple of things. Monthly, I get a huge box of my Amazon subscribe-and-save items. (Best thing ever, by the way, and if you haven't looked into it, I suggest that you do!) After I take all the stuff out of the box, I put my kid inside the box with some jumbo crayons and let her go to town. If she gets out of the box, she can't color anymore. Another way we work on her grasp without making a mess is by using the Aquadoodle. It's a pad that changes color when it gets wet, and it comes with a marker that you can fill up with water. It's magical. No mess, and I can let her "color" without worrying about where it's getting. It's just water! Win!

Drinking from an Open Cup. Aside from sippy cups not being the best for promoting mature oral musculature anyhow, drinking from an open cup is a big kid activity that is important for them to learn. It definitely has the potential to make a huge mess, and you run the risk of making meal time even more stressful.

How we work on it: We pour just a little bit of water into a small plastic kids cup, enough for one big sip. So that way if it is spilled or choked on, it's just a little bit. I've also heard of parents using those little paper dixie cups. Also a wonderful place to work on this skill is in the bath tub!!! I wouldn't necessarily encourage drinking the bath water per say, but you can fill up a little plastic cup up with fresh water from the sink and let them practice drinking.

As parents, it is incredibly easy to get stuck in a rut with what we are exposing our kiddos to. Everything is happening so fast in these early years; it's hard to keep up! What I would recommend doing is: take a look at what your kid is currently doing (i.e. walking) and think about what skills would come next (i.e. running, jumping) and encourage that behavior! You might be surprised how quickly they pick it up. But don't be alarmed if they don't pick it up right away. Every little tyke develops at a different pace. But that way, when you go to those pediatrician check ups and you fill out the developmental questionnaire, you have a good idea about the skills your kid can do and where he/she needs help.

Thanks for reading as always!

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