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Fidget Spinners: Is It Really What Your Child Needs?

Tue, 23 May 2017

Fidget Spinners: Is It Really What Your Child Needs?

BY VICTORIA PROODAY, OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST
The brain has the magical ability to rewire itself. We live in the world that offers our brains instant gratification, which works just like a drug. The more instant gratification we offer our brains, the more our brains crave it.

With the best of intentions, we have rewired the brains of this entire generation of children to expect instant gratification, by offering them IPads, videogames, and depriving their brains of opportunities for boredom, responsibilities, and limits. Children come to school emotionally unavailable to learn. Their brains are unable to function under lower levels of stimulation, and expect special effects at all times. Unfortunately, real life can’t offer their brains what we promised; compared to the stimulation offered by the screens, real life is boring. Life requires the brain to work through boredom, which these children can’t tolerate so they become fidgety the moment their brains perceive even minor “boredom”.

With the invention of the spinner fidgets, we take their brains to the next level of instant gratification. Moreover, again and again, we buy our children what they want, the moment they want it, without thinking if it is truly what they need. Now, they bring the spinners into the classroom; continuing to stimulate their brains all day long with high levels of spinning stimulation. The more they stimulate their brains, the more they will crave for it, the less delayed gratification they will have, the less emotionally available for learning they will be (Read more about it here).

There are a few kids that do require fidgets. However, even for these kids, the fidgets are just a quick fix. These children require a much deeper approach to help them concentrate. In many cases, if a child needs fidgets, it means that his brain is overly stimulated and he actually needs help calming his brain down rather than further stimulating it. Here are some suggestions that will minimize your child’s need for fidgeting:
 

  • Teach children that “boredom” is a normal state of human emotions. Help children to recognize the signs of boredom and help them develop functional strategies to deal with it. Don’t take the responsibility of constantly entertaining your kids, as they need to learn to self-regulate through boredom.
  • Put a conscious effort to train your child’s delayed gratification skills. Avoid using technological babysitters in cars and restaurants and train his ability to just sit and wait. Teach your child to sit at a table until everyone finishes eating. Limit snacking between meals.
  • Limit your child’s access to technology. In addition, unplug from your phone and share quality time with your child.
  • Offer your child opportunities to spend time outdoors, especially in green space.
  • Provide regular opportunities for high intensity, high duration exercises such as biking, hiking.
  • Bring calmness into their lives by listening to calm music, sitting around a fireplace, having a calming bath, reading a book, drawing, or playing board games.
  • Offer plenty of sleep in technology free bedrooms.
  • Train your child’s ability to complete monotonous work, such as helping with cooking, setting a table, making his/her bed, or folding clothes.
  • If your child truly needs a fidget, provide him/her with a low stimulation fidget, such as a stress ball.

Parents, we are failing our children! Their future is in our hands. Provide children with what is truly and deeply good for them, instead of highly stimulating quick fixes.

Victoria Prooday

Toys that help with gross motor skills and fine motor skills in toddlers

Mon, 6 February 2017

Toddlers are developing their skills through play all the time, but we can help guide them to improve their gross motor skills and fine motor skills with particular toys. Through repetition they will develop muscle memory, and this will make all these new physical motions automatic.

What are gross motor and fine motor skills?

Gross motor skills involve coordination in the large muscles, and include control of the head, arms, legs and trunk. So that includes physical activities such as walking, running, jumping, hopping and skipping.
Fine motor skills involve using the small muscles in the hands, fingers, feet and toes. The hand-eye coordination learned through these play activities will help your child prepare for learning to write and includes more controlled activities such as painting, model building and sports.

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Your child will need to develop both gross and fine motor skills gradually, and their first attempts at some activities may end in a little mess. Whether you need to learn how to remove stains from clothes after a colourful crafting experience or are faced with mud and grass stains following boisterous outdoor activities, the important thing is to encourage your children to keep trying. Mess can always be cleared up, and you should do what you can to help your kids develop these vital skills.

What toys help with gross motor skills?

There are lots of toys your child can use to help develop these skills. Some are great for outside play, like bikes and ride-on toys, but you can also do plenty inside too with tunnels and pull-along toys.

• Balance bikes: by pushing along the ground with their feet, toddlers develop their bilateral coordination and weight shifting abilities, in preparation for riding a pedal bike
• Ride-on toys: these toys come shaped like all sorts of fun things including cars they can climb into. They help with balance, reciprocal leg movements and motor planning
• Pull-along toys: any toys that involve pushing and pulling, like pull-along animals, help develop gross motor skills in the arms and legs and coordination between the two
• Mini trampoline: most kids just love to bounce, and a mini trampoline that you keep indoors will help their coordination, spatial awareness, coordination and balance
• Brooms: toddlers often want to get involved in the cleaning, so by giving them their own broom or brush they can help out at home while also developing their push and pull skills
• Tunnels: play tunnels are great for your child to develop their four-point crawling, and will also aid their balance, weight shifting and bilateral coordination

What toys help with fine motor skills?

There are plenty of creative activities that help with these skills, like colouring and painting – just make sure you know how to remove paint stains from clothes before you start!

• Play dough or clay: using their hands and fingers to shape the dough will help them develop their fine motor skills, as will using plastic scissors and cookie cutters on the dough too
• Blocks: building a tower with blocks helps children develop their fine motor skills through the grasping, releasing and hand-eye coordination that is required in this kind of play
• Colouring pens and pencils: holding pens and pencils will help with their pincer grip, which is essential for writing, and colouring between the lines will help with hand-eye coordination
• Paints: as well as using a paintbrush, children can use hands and feet to paint too! As this can get messy, you’ll probably want some tips on how to remove paint stains from clothes
• Puzzles: puzzles with tiny knobs to hold onto are perfect for toddler’s hands, as they practice their pincer grip as they pull them out and then place them in using hand-eye coordination

There are so many fun activities for toddlers to enjoy that they’ll never even realise these toys are actively helping them to develop their gross and fine motor skills!

Photo credit: Jason Mrachina

Activities for kids to practice mindfulness

Tue, 8 November 2016

Activities for kids to practice mindfulness

In an increasingly busy world, it’s important to allow kids to engage in fun activities that help promote a healthy mind and body like scavenger hunt, sport or crafts activities.
Getting kids to realise the value and benefits of useful practices such as mindfulness while ...

How to encourage a positive attitude in your child

Mon, 17 October 2016


Do you ever worry about the effect the outside world can have on your child’s outlook on life? We all want our children to feel able to adopt a positive attitude as they grow and start figuring out who they are. This not only helps them in later life but ...

Learning through play: fun activities for kids

Mon, 12 September 2016

Your toddler is learning every single day and at an accelerated rate. There are a number of fun activities for kids that can have a huge impact on how your child grows and affect areas such as how they socially interact with other children, how they perceive themselves and also ...

Child Abuse

Mon, 8 August 2016

Warning Signs of Daycare AbuseListen to your kids and take them seriously if they tell you something about daycare that makes them uncomfortable. Some children can't or do not want to talk about these things, but there are other cues to watch for that could indicate a problem at daycare.

  • Things ...

Children and pets

Wed, 1 June 2016


Studies show that pets can be valuable in the life of a developing child. Children with pets tend to be more compassionate, self-confident and responsible, and are greater achievers. Before deciding on a pet, you need to weigh the practical pros and cons of keeping a pet. It is a ...

Homeschooling Pros and Cons

Tue, 5 January 2016


According to Wikipaedia, homeschooling (also called home education or home learning) is the education of children at home, typically by parents but sometimes by tutors, rather than in the formal settings of public or private school.

More and more parents around the world are choosing to home school their children for ...

Lunchbox Ideas

Fri, 23 January 2015

Moms all over the country are wondering what to pack in those lunchboxes! Herewith a few simple ideas:

Medium pita bread with mince, tomato, lettuce and cottage cheese
Banana Muffin
Chocolate flavored milk
Raisins

Whole-wheat roll with sliced beef, cucumber & lettuce
Fruit yoghurt
Flavored water
Pear

Honey & Mustard Chicken with couscous and mushrooms, peppers & onion
Digestive / ...

Jesus is still the reason for the season

Mon, 14 December 2015

This is an old comparison but every December we look at it and just have to share it with our visitors. What do you think? Please leave a comment at the end of the story.

Santa lives at the North Pole
Jesus is everywhere

Santa rides in a sleigh
Jesus rides on the wind ...

Protect your child from predators

Fri, 27 November 2015

According to figures released by the South African Police Service Missing Persons Bureau, a child goes missing every six hours in South Africa. This adds up to 1460 children per year. They are kidnapped for various reasons including sexual assault, organ donation, muti, slavery and ransom. We need to implement ...

How to child-proof your house

Wed, 4 November 2015

More and more freak accidents are taking place in South Africa all the time. The tragic part is that most could have been easily prevented. It is essential to child-proof your house once you have children. There are professional services available in South Africa that come to your house, scan ...

What to do if your child is being bullied?

Thu, 15 October 2015

Bullying in South Africa is a serious problem in schools. There have been several recent cases of children committing suicide after being victimised by fellow students. Bullying can be defined as the intentional, conscious desire to hurt, threaten or frighten another individual. It can take the form of physical abuse ...

Getting Pregnant

Wed, 5 August 2015

Pregnancy occurs as the result of the female gamete or oocyte (egg) being penetrated by the male gamete spermatozoon in a process referred to as fertilization, or more commonly known as conception. The fusion of male and female gametes usually occurs through the act of sexual intercourse. However, the advent ...

10 Signs That You Might Be Pregnant

Fri, 12 June 2015
























1. A missed period
Consider trying a pregnancy test if your usually regular period is late. This is the surest sign of pregnancy in a woman of childbearing age who usually has regular periods

2. Morning sickness
As early as a couple of days after conception you may begin feeling queasy. However, ...

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