Interactive Kids
Marlton, NJ 08053

Monday, October 3, 2011

Beating the Bedwetting Blues

We have a little problem in our house, my oldest son has difficulty remaining dry overnight and he is nearly 5 years old.  When I spoke with my pediatrician she said that he probably has a small bladder and will grow out of being wet so we should continue to keep him in pull ups overnight.  Recently, I have noticed that he has been waking up saturated in the morning AND when I've begun checking him before he gets into bed he is wet.  Remaining dry while still awake clearly is within his what to do with this information?

As a behavior analyst, I took a little data, although not as detailed as I should, but was able to glean that when his pull up was placed on 15 minutes or more before bed my son would often wake up with his clothing wet in the morning and at times would be wet before even going to bed.  If the pull up was placed on immediately before sleep he was less likely to wake up saturated.  This made me think, how could I apply reinforcement for eliminating in the toilet and dry clothes in the morning (I didn't expect a dry pull up yet as I do believe he has a small bladder and is a heavy sleeper)? 

My son loves his Leapster Explorer and we haven't purchased a new game in quite some time so this was the "carrot" we chose to use to encourage him to remain dry/use the toilet.  If he wakes up without his clothes being wet and uses the bathroom before going to sleep/as soon as he wakes up for two nights then we would buy him a new game.

The first night he went to the bathroom three times before bed and once during the night.  His clothes were dry and only his pull up was wet...success!  The second night he went to the bathroom before going to sleep, as soon as he woke up, and was minimally wet...another success! He was so excited to receive his new game and I was able to praise him for his success. 

The question that remains is will he be able to continue with this positive momentum?  Obviously we can't buy him a new game every two nights, so will a delay in reinforcement for a few days more be powerful enough?  The next goal will be five nights of going to bed dry and waking up without his clothing/bed being wet.  To be continued....

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trading Tears for Talking

Dave has a difficult time focusing in the regular education first grade classroom so sometimes he completes writing activities (the most difficult of all) in the library. Today we were working on writing a few sentences while some of his peers were singing songs in the classroom. Dave worked so hard to write neatly and quickly, but by the time we returned to his desk the singing group had finished. Dave was devastated. Huge tears rolled down his face as he realized that what he had worked so hard to participate in was over.

There's something I didn't tell you about Dave, he has had a history of hiting others and destroying property. SO with that in mind I prepared for the worst. I gave him choices of how he may be feeling (sad, happy, angry, frustrated, etc.) and he told me he was frustrated and sad. He did kick the trash can twice before choosing to sing a song with 3 of his peers, but was able to move on without any additional incidents. I was so amazed and proud of Dave's ability to maintain self control and vocalize his feelings instead of having a 30 minute meltdown!

This is a tough lesson for many students to learn, that words can have their needs met as easily as actions. Also, that the actions are not going to produce the reaction they would like. When talking to children, model the language that you want them to use " I am so frustrated" or "Oh no, I really wanted that, I am so disappointed." Then follow up their verbal expression of validating their feelings, even if they can not have what they want, e.g. "I understand that you are disappointed that you did not get to go first, but that's OK you will have a turn to go first later." Remember that maintining control of their bodies and refraining from acting inappropriately which may have been happening for a long time is difficult, but with time and patient coaching children can become terrific communicators!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

If you saw me yesterday I was dressed in black; mourning the end of a perfect summer. Today, however, I have shaken the blues and am energized by thoughts of warm apple cider, pumpkin carving with good friends, longs walks on crisp autumn evenings, and the start of a new season of social skills. For some of you the last item may appear a bit disjointed, but for me and those with social challenges they fit together like a giant pile of leaves and an energetic child!

Please join us at Interactive Kids as we kick off Session I for the 2010-11 school year by calling 856-810-7599 or visiting us on the web at

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

Isn't summer the time to kick back and relax to enjoy some time catching up on all of the projects you've put off during the hustle and bustle of the three other seasons? When I speak with other parents, many of whom have children who have special needs, it seems that the opposite is true. The kids are home and we are compelled to fill their days from sun up to sun down.

Before I had children I balked at the notion of having multiple memberships to "kids places," as Melissa, my business partner, loves to remind me. In the past 3 1/2 years since Harry was born we have joined: The Philadelphia Zoo, The Please Touch Museum, Sahara Sam's, Storybook Land, The Adventure Aquarium in Camden, and I'm sure I'm missing others. We have dwindled down to just Storybook Land since we moved 9 months ago, but continue to keep the kids involved in something, the pool, the beach, the playground , the park, the Cape May Zoo, and many other day trips, on top of going to school two mornings per week.

It's as if we as parents are searching for ways to entertain our children, but we may be missing out on teaching our children how to entertain themselves. I remember going to my mother when I was younger and reporting, "I'm bored." Her response was usually the same, "Go outside and figure out something to do." I am not advocating for my 2 and 3 1/2 year olds to play outside by themselves (yet), but what I am realizing is that following their lead with what surrounds us may make for more creative and healthy children.

For the many parents whose children need extra "practice" with communicating and interacting with those around them I salute your efforts to keep your children actively engaged to promote development. I caution you though to remember that they are just kids and can be come overwhelmed by over-involvement. What we see as play during a sports or arts camp, which should be pleasurable, could actually be taxing on their young minds and bodies. Not only are the children learning the content of the camp, they are also trying to ascertain when to speak, what to say, when to pursue, when to back up, and how to modulate problem behaviors. It's better to choose one or two activities per day than to enroll the child in multiple programs which could be exhausting for the child.

In an attempt to follow my own suggestions the boys and I were at the park yesterday and I let them lead me on an hour long exploration of the woods. The two of them were simply content to throw rocks in the water, collect pine combs, and search for wildlife. I know they will get sucked into the digital entertainment world soon enough, but hopefully they will also enjoy spending time out doors, entertaining themselves and marveling at nature.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Junior Alarm Clock

Each morning my 3 and 1/2 year old son wakes me up bright and early, usually with the sun. This is our special time to hang out while I wake up and before everyone else does. He tells me about how he slept and we plan for the day. On those mornings when I get up first or we're rushed to get out the door for school and work we can really feel the difference. Initially I noticed that he was more oppositional about getting dressed, having breakfast, etc. Recently I realized that I am more disorganized, often forgetting at least one step in our "morning routine" which can start the day off on the wrong foot.

After conducting a parent workshop last night I realized how often I speak with other parents about preparing their children for the day, whether it's through visual schedules, lists, or talking about expectations. Little did I realize that Harry and I had been doing this for almost a year now. The difference in his behavior ( and mine) has only recently become apparent, but something that I now know needs to happen each morning, even over breakfast or in the car. I guess I really do practice what I preach sometimes!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

General Social Skills Tips

1. Realize children with poor social skills probably aren’t picking up social cues, so don’t expect them to be able to without skill practice. Demonstrate what to look for in the other person’s behavior to see what effect your behavior is having, e.g., “See how Johnny is frowning? He’s not happy with what’s happening. Did you say or do something that might get that kind of reaction?”

2. Pair children with poor social skills with a socially skilled peer to help them observe social skills and feel accepted by a socially-adept peer.

3. Read or tell an incomplete story that involves social judgments and have children complete the story and discuss the consequences.

4. Give children 3-6 pictures of people and have them tell a story, describing how each person in the situation feels. Suggest other possibilities if the child doesn’t, e.g., “Do you think this boy feels anger or happiness?”

5. If a child is shy, co-play with them, asking for help and suggestions from the child to get them to lead.

6. Use conflict to promote social thinking. Ask two warring children, “Let’s cool down and discuss this.” “What’s the trouble?” “What did each of you say and do?” “What’s another solution?”

7. Look for signs of stress build up. Ask children to, “take a deep breath, close your eyes, and take yourself in your mind to a safe and happy place.” Provide encouragement that the children can do the work or if they can’t, reduce the workload until the child is back in control.

8. Ask the child what their social goals are and what would make them feel good if they reached their goal. Implement a reasonable reward program.

9. Talk one-on-one with children who act inappropriately in class and tell them, “Let’s set up a private sign between us that I can give you when you start to _________ or _______in class.

10. Provide small group social skills training once the children have beginning social skills.

11. Assign special class responsibilities to children who don’t have many social skills so they appear in a positive light to their peers.

12. Teach listening, accepting feedback, praising, and giving feedback communication skills in class. When someone interrupts, can’t accept a compliment, doesn’t know how to give a complement or listen, use that scenario to ask for another way to handle this situation and ask children to role play different possibilities. Trying out social skills is the best way to learn them.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Groups Forming....

I can't believe that the last session of the year has already arrived...I feel like we just wrote the schedule! Classes begin the week of April 17 and run through June 14. Some classes are already closed out, so don't delay.

Please check the schedule for additional information:

To register call 856-810-7599 and ask for Colleen Wells.