Play Ball: Parent Bonding

Ever notice the movie/tv trope of a father and child playing a game of catch? It’s meant to show the audience the kind of one-on-one relationship they have.

But why is this scene so common?

I have heard some of my dad friends express their dream to toss the ball around with their kid when they get older. But when I ask why, they are usually unsure of the reason. They just want to. Although that is a fair justification, I wanted to understand why this particular game of catch is important and meaningful to many fathers.

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Our Renaissance Faire Review

It’s time for another playdate review. This month, we chose the Georgia Renaissance Festival. Both Mary and I have gone to RenFaires in the past and we each took our children last year. But for this year and this blog series, we decided to make it a full-on playdate.

Same review rules apply: The playdates need to be something new that the kids have never done before. In this case, it was a full day out with another kid. True, our kids have been to this location before, but this is not a family trip. Subtle difference there. Also, the faire had more involved activities than the standard meet-up-at-the-park and had multiple applications of sensory/development function.

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Joyride: Riding a Bike

After learning how to walk, run, jump, and skip, the next milestone on your kid’s docket is riding a bike. Although this skill is not necessary for their overall development, it does provide a wide range of benefits to your child’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being (like building lower body strength and endurance, boosting mood, releasing excess energy, adjusting arousal level necessary to focus, etc). I think it’s also one of those quintessential kid activities that parents actually look forward to teaching.

But bike riding, like all the other skills before it, doesn’t happen overnight (Maneuver this steerable machine throughout the neighborhood without falling? And you call this fun!?). Kids eventually grasp their first mode of independent transportation with practice and patience, but why do some rise to the challenge easily while others struggle? Let’s find out from an OT perspective.

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Course Notes: The Cerebellum

We have talked an awful lot about the prefrontal cortex and its significance to our performance in everyday life. But what about the back of the brain, like the cerebellum? Where’s the love for that neural region? Turns out that “little brain” found at the base of the skull right above the nape of neck deserves so much applause for what it does.

The cerebellum was the topic of my latest CEU course, so this post is going to get a little technical. But trust us, it’s worth the read.

For centuries, it’s been believed that the cerebellum was only responsible for unconscious motor movement, like balance and reflexes. Although that is true, it’s not its only job. Researchers are finding out more and more about how important and involved the cerebellum really is to our day-to-day operations and what happens when it goes awry.

With its Latin name meaning “little brain”, the cerebellum makes up 10% of the brain’s volume. However, it carries about more than 50% of all the neurons (nerve cells) in our entire body. With the more neural connections than any other part of the brain, the name doesn’t seem as fitting as it once did.

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A Resilient State of Mind: Dealing with Failure

Part of a child’s job is to learn, and failure is an inevitable part of learning. Failure is also an inevitable part of building resilience. Resilience is the ability to face life’s stressors/challenges, learn from mistakes, and recover. It’s a big cause and effect game happening in your child’s brain.

Our kids fail all the time, especially when communicating what they want or need in the first years of life. As they get older and experiment with boundaries and connect information, they can organize all of that cause and effect and turn it into action. They figure out what works (asking for help) and what doesn’t (throwing a fit), learning and adapting with each new situation.

But somewhere in their early school years, our kids can start viewing failure as a bad thing, limiting their exposure to new experiences, encounters, and achievements. What caused this switch and how can we help our kids embrace failure rather than avoid it?

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