A little R&R time

Responsibility and respect, that is.

When a child is old enough to follow a chore chart you can put your feet up at time and watch someone else do the dishes for a change.  But, to get to that point, first one must learn the importance of cleaning up and following directions.  By starting at a young age, a child is able to grow up learning what is important in your family.

Following directions
It’s easy to watch your family room turn into a toy store.  Babies and toddlers easily move from one toy to another without blinking.  Their attention span seems like that of a fly.  And before bed it can look like an actual tornado went through your house.   It’s not necessary to expect a 13 month old to pick up all of the toys, that’s mostly your job.  But, asking him to do just 3, 5, or 10 depending on the age is not much.  And when you are providing the example, he will be more likely to follow along.

  • Have her doll baby “help”.
  • Push a laundry basket or toy bin around the room as a bus picking up its “passengers”.
  • Fly her around the room, pausing to pick up a toy here and there.
  • “We’re all done cleaning up, big hugs/high five!  Now, let’s go get a bath/read a book/get our shoes on.”

Of course, at times there will be defiance, but as with everything, hold your ground and be persistent.   Don’t let her sneak away some nights and expect it another night.  Babies and toddlers need consistency.

Hello, Bye-Bye, Please and Thank You
Is there something your child does that he picked up on without you teaching him?  Maybe he pretends to put on your shoes at the door? Or holds a pretend phone to his ear and says “Hello?”  Has he repeated the one word you hoped he didn’t pick up on when someone cut your car off?
Raising tiny humans is hard, but it can be easier if you are providing the correct model.  YOU.  If you want your child to use manners, speak highly of others, not to tease or yell than guess what…you should be doing the same.  Be the person you want your child to be.  We know they mimic everything their parents do from pretend mixing a bowl to facial expressions and conversations.
Teaching respect and social cues is harder than following directions.  You can’t make a 9 month old say “Thank you”.  When opportunities arise, be the model and help your child observe what is expected.  Make it known it’s not all about them, but involving others too.

  • Leaving the grocery store, “Say Bye Bye!” While you are waving, hopefully the cashier is nice enough to play along.
  • At the playground, “Let’s watch the little girl go down the slide, here she comes!  Wee! Now it’s your turn!”
  • Getting a sticker after gym class?  Point out how cool the sticker/prize is to make an excited/happy feeling in your child. “Look at Miss Sarah and say thank you for the sticker,  Thank you!”  Try to get your child to look at the opposite person, any eye contact or a shy smile provides the same as a verbal “Thank You”.
  • As with any social interaction, think of yourself, how are you responding and interacting with others?  Your child is present for all of it, so treat others as you want your child to!

Now, go play!

Baby Shark Tank

Which shark would you be trying to capture the attention of?  What if babies were the sharks?  What would you have to do to gain your baby’s attention?

Whether you are actively playing peek a boo, Itsy Bitsy Spider, having a tea party or simply just watching your child play and being there for the random items he decides to hand you, the fact is YOU ARE THERE.  And although it may not seem like you are interacting, you are.  Because the minute you step away to unload the dishwasher or check your phone, baby is bound to begin fussing and climbing up your leg to get the attention back where it should be.

Part of being a parent is being the circus clown in front of the lions.  It is your job to entertain and create opportunities that are not only fun by engaging and beneficial to your child’s development.  The more knowledge we have about our growing babies brains and bodies, the more we can provide for them to succeed.  And, that doesn’t mean having a shopping spree at the toy store, or buying a tablet for their 1st birthday.  It is possible to create opportunities with things in your house or at most from the dollar store.

  • Push a filled laundry basket filled down the hallway for balance/walking/muscle strength
  • Tap wooden spoons on the bottom of a pot or stir a whisk in a pot for fine motor development (and teething)
  • Place items in and out of an empty tissue box to practice taking turns
  • Stack plastic/paper cups or have a tea party or use brushes and loofas to give toy cars/animals a “bath” for imaginary play
  • Place window clings on glass doors, refrigerators, or tile floors to encourage movement and standing
  • Cardboard boxes for exploring and peek a boo
  • Get outside and see where your child takes you!

Now, go play!


What ways do you turn household items into toys?

What is Early Intervention anyway?

Between 0-3 years old, babies’ brains are growing like a wildfire.  Everything is new and exciting.  And they are growing to be able to explore their world by crawling, walking, reaching, grabbing, communicating, and more.  Some babies need a little extra boost to reach milestones, and some are predisposed to ailments both minor and major.  The Early Intervention (EI) System is a service provided by the government under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  If you are worried your child is not advancing as his peers, talk to your pediatrician.  She can point you into the direction of the Early Intervention System in your state.

Now, that being said, not every child develops at the same rate.  And just because your neighbor’s 11 month old is walking, doesn’t mean your 11 month old should be walking.  Instead, focus on what he CAN do, not what he can’t.  When a lacking skill impairs your child’s daily activities, Early Intervention can be resourceful.

Early Intervention is not a bad thing!  Do you take your child on play dates because you want him to socialize?  Do you take your child to the playground so he can be active?  Do you allow and provide and play your child with age appropriate toys?  These are all opportunities an Early Intervention Therapist would take part in.  An EI therapist will show you specific activities you can do to help your child meet those milestones.

Don’t think you don’t have time for EI.  The therapists will work around YOUR schedule.  They will come right to your house or meet with your childcare provider.  Whatever works FOR YOU.  The earlier you begin EI services, the better for your child.

If you think your child needs a little extra help but does not qualify for services you can also seek private therapy.

Email cyoung@weplaytgrow.com for questions or to help get you started in this process.

Now, go play!

Back to School

September means back to school for some and for others it can be a reminder to re-establish, or simply start, a routine.  Any routine can be helpful for everyone in the house.

Having a routine, whether it is a schedule to get to work and school on time, or favorite traditions before bed, helps children feel safe, calm, and in control.  Which is why when something unexpected happens, so does a meltdown.  Playing outside when some one’s diaper is sagging – try and take that toddler inside will be like pulling an alligator away from it’s dinner.  Here are some simple ways to establish and reinforce routines for everyone to have a smooth day.

Routines can be a schedule – wake up, potty/diaper, brush teeth, breakfast, get dressed, play, daycare. Boom.  Sticking to the same schedule every day creates familiarity.  Kids know what to expect. Ie, when play time is coming, and coming to an end.

Or a routine can be a reminding list – “We are playing cars now, soon we will get our diaper changed and put our shoes on to go to the grocery store.   You can ride in the cart and help Mommy pick find our favorite foods.”

Either way, through each stage of the routine, remind your child of what is happening. Literally, repeat the list after each step.  Be prepared for some resistance with babies and toddlers, after all, they’re babies and toddlers.  But, constant reminders of the routine and what is to come will help to control outbursts.

And quite possibly the biggest part of reinforcing a routine – don’t make it a chore!  Involve your child in the conversation.  Making a child feel included will create a sense of importance and he will be more likely to engage in the routine then acting against it.

“Toys are all done, we have to go to the store, let’s go.”
“Let’s clean up so we can go to the store.  What should we pick out for dinner? Noodles or Chicken?  What about for dessert?  Peaches?”


Lastly, a routine is never in stone.  Skip a nap to play at the beach, stay up late during a summer BBQ, leave dishes in the sink to play Legos.  Snuggle when the snuggle is real.

Now, go play!