This Week I Got the Flu

This week I got the flu.

Not fun for anyone, I know. Then I started to feel better, awesome.  

But then I started to feel dizzy, crap.  Some of you know about my history of vestibular (inner ear) disorders that caused me years of dizziness.

I’ve solved this dizzy problem (yay!), so why was I dizzy? After testing some things on myself (yes, I’m my own physical therapist!) I came to the same conclusion that I have several times before.

My sensory systems got out of sync.

Why?  Because I was in bed for several days doing nothing.  Watching Netflix doesn’t require much from the vestibular system.

My body had been used to a lazy vestibular system for years (because it wasn’t working right) and so it took in more information from my eyes and somatosensory (touch and body position) system for balance and body awareness. Without being challenged, my sensory systems slid back to old habits.  

Many things can cause these kinds of shifts.  Since my vestibular system is my weakness, being sedentary can cause a shift.  For children, growth spurts can be a bigee to send the sensory systems out of whack.  Getting glasses or a change of prescription can change things. An injury, such as a concussion can make a large impact.

For a child who has differences in their sensory or motor systems to begin with, such as a child with cerebral palsy or autism, something seemingly small like a growth spurt can have a powerful impact.

Our bodies are a complex amazing collection of systems that dynamically interact so that we can move, play and learn.

For some, one change can throw the rest of it out of whack, needing time or therapeutic intervention to reorganize.  So if you seen a big change in your child’s abilities, there may have been a period of growth or an experience that’s causing the system to reorganize. Perhaps it will also be a window for your child grow even stronger and more resilient than ever.

 

A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Cyberbullying

Please welcome back our guest blogger, Janice Russell, of Parenting Disasters,  for a very important topic.  As parents, it can be hard to keep up with the changing technologies and how it can affect our children.  Here’s a good place to get started.

Cyberbullying can be a scary subject for most parents. While we can understand the emotions behind bullying, it can be difficult to grasp the implications of bullying in today’s modern age, when children are exceptionally vulnerable through their use of technology. Statistics show that only 7 percent of American parents are worried about it, but 33 percent of children have suffered from it. This disparity shows that parents still have a long way to go when it comes to educating themselves on the matter. Here are some things to keep in mind.

How Is Cyberbullying Different Than Regular Bullying?

In many ways, it’s not. It is still a form of intimidation and aggression intended to cause physical or psychological harm. However, the main differences lie in the implications of the technological medium and in the social environment kids live in today.

First of all, the internet allows for some level of anonymity for the bully. It’s also much harder to hide from cyberbullying, as it can happen anytime, and it has the potential to grow virally and spin out of control. There is also the wider context of the internet, which can be a toxic place where hateful messages are spread without fear of repercussion. Most importantly, it can’t realistically be ignored or cut out of the child’s life. A large part of a child’s social life plays out online, and to cut them off completely would be alienating and counterproductive.

What Are Some of the Effects of Cyberbullying?

As with any form of bullying, the effects of cyberbullying are potentially catastrophic. In the short-term, bullying can cause problems with sleep, school, and socialization. In the long run, it can cause PTSD. It can also lead to mental health problems ranging from depression to eating disorders, both immediately and into adulthood.

The worst possible effect of bullying is suicide. This may feel like an extreme example, but the connection has been proven. Teens involved in bullying behavior — on either side — are more likely to consider suicide. This highlights the importance of identifying cyberbullying and intervening as soon as possible.

How Do I Know My Child Is Being Cyberbullied?

First off, make it very clear to your children they should come to you if they are bullied, no matter what. Have an open conversation, in which you impress the importance of both asking for help and treating others with respect on the internet. This guide by Positive Parenting Solutions has some good tips. You also need to watch out for signs of cyberbullying. If you start identifying these, ask the school if they have spotted anything unusual. If not, this may be a sign the bullying is happening online.

What Can I Do?

If you believe the bully is a classmate, your first step should be to take it to the school. However, bear in mind that without direct evidence of the child’s behavior, it can be difficult for the school to enforce any punishment. In the meantime, tell your child not to respond to harassment and save any messages. You may opt to start gathering forensic evidence, such as text messages and social media posts, to begin building a legal case. In severe cases, you may want to turn to professionals like Secure Forensics who can help you gather all the information you need.

If the bullying becomes life-threatening (death threats and suicide encouragement, for example), go straight to the police with the issue. Cyberbullying legislation varies from state to state, so it also helps to be informed about your rights.

It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of cyberbullying, but as parents, it is our job to show our kids they are not powerless. To do that, we need to become comfortable talking about cyberbullying, its real-world consequences, and the options we have to fight it. Cyberbullying is relatively new and uncharted territory for most parents, kids, and schools, so education and open conversation are some of the most powerful tools available to us on the matter.

Why Won’t My Child Slow Down and Use An Inside Voice?!

Small, Tall, Big and Small

From a young age, children are introduced to opposites.  From children’s books to playtime, opposites are a fun theme with great vocabulary and concepts.  From a developmental perspective, we are showing our kids how to recognize differences in the world and in ourselves.

Our perceptions and the decisions we make are guided by recognizing differences.  We can recognize differences in the world when we learn how some things are big and some are small.  We recognize an elephant as big and a mouse as small. We recognize a Dad as tall and the child as short.  From these concrete and visual opposites we can learn to understand similar differences in our thoughts and feelings.  We can feel happy sad, hungry or full, sleepy or energetic and engaged or bored.  

At Kid PT, we often hear from parents that their child is always on the move, always running, or always soooo loud.  Often the strategy used to address these concerns, is to practice the opposite. The child is told to slow down and be quieter.

But what if we flip this strategy on its head???    

The child who is always on the move may not recognize the difference between moving fast and slow.  Asking them to move slower is not something they can truly perceive let alone do, especially on their own when no one is asking them to do it.

Instead, if we try the opposite and ask the child to move FASTER, we’re asking them to recognize a difference that is already within their world of understanding.  If we can practice fast-faster-fastest, then the child can begin to recognize the differences of different speeds. Once they do, they can then understand all of the other speeds of slow, medium and fast.  

A child that is always moving fast is like a light switch.  There is on and off. There’s no such thing as a little on or a little off.  It is one or the other. You can’t ask that light to not be so bright.

If we install a dimmer on our light switch, it can now move between bright, not so bright, a little dim and off.  Meeting our kids where THEY can recognize differences, like between fast and faster for the always-fast-moving-child, is like installing a dimmer switch.  The child can start learning to move that dimmer switch and over time they will be able to recognize all the different speeds that they can move their bodies.

The same goes for the child who is always loud.  The main strategy is usually to ask the child to be quieter.  What if we try the opposite??? Ask the child to be louder! Then have them use their regular voice (even if it’s loud).  Keep playing with the differences that are within the child’s universe. From there, you can build and build. You’ve now installed a dimmer switch that can recognize all different levels of volume and not just one the child has and the level that adults are asking of the child.

This is is just one example of how we can flip therapy on its head and work smarter instead of harder.  If we work on a child’s strengths and natural abilities, we can truly change how a child experiences the world.  Helping a child change from the inside out can then spontaneously change how they learn and how they move so that they can truly become their best selves!