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Friday, June 23, 2017

The Importance of a Good Diet by Marie Miguel

Diet and Health

It's sometimes easy to forget that depression, chronic anxiety and many other mental health issues are not so much a state of mind as they are diseases, with biological causes (among others) and effects on physical well-being. Sadly, these illnesses can also make their appearance in childhood years and persist for months or years if not detected and treated.

The brain is a physical organ just like the heart or liver, consuming around a fifth of a person's total energy intake and having particular nutrient requirements. Fortunately, a meal that supports mental well being tends to be exactly what most of us would consider to be healthy food in a general sense, including a variety of vegetables, whole grains and a balance between carbohydrates and protein.

Anti-inflammatory foods are also important to a healthy diet. When cells get inflamed, the body’s normal function is impaired. It is difficult to absorb nutrients, literally making one feel “sick”. This can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety and even depression. As the old adage says, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Stay away from salami and other processed foods which contain preservatives and chemicals--they have little nutritional value and significant poison content. Look for healthy choices for each meal.

Family Meal Plans for Improved Health 

One of the ways mental health problems can be prevented or treated is by eating a better diet.  This information can be invaluable to those who manage the family meal. Considering the far-reaching impact a change in lunch policies can have in a school environment, for instance.

What foods promote healthy brains and bodies?  Foods that contain anti-inflammatory properties are found in cucumber, turmeric, Arctic char (a “sister” of salmon), Swiss chard, green tea, beets, and blueberries, to name a few.

In addition, a number of specific foods contain chemicals that have been proven to lead to better mental health. Leafy green vegetables like Swiss chard, oily fish like Arctic char or Salmon, beans and other legumes are of particular importance, as are a variety of herbs and spices - like turmeric.

Cucumber salad is a great meal suggestion or try a chicken-cucumber sandwich. If you slice the cucumber thinly, picky eaters will be less likely to object. You can sprinkle turmeric in soup or as a seasoning to other foods. If Arctic char is difficult to find, you can always serve grilled pink salmon, seasoned with salt and pepper. Swiss chard is very nutritious and can be used in salads or fruit and veggie smoothies.  You can make sweet green tea or a milk-tea drink. Beets can be used to bake a cake, cupcakes and muffins or can be a good afternoon snack. Blueberries are the best when eaten raw.

How to Create a Meal Plan

Creating a meal plan is not that hard if you take a few minutes each week to get organized. Twenty to thirty minutes is usually sufficient to plan the meal plan for the week ahead. 

Set aside a regular time to prepare your menu and shopping list. Fix a cold drink to relax your mind or if you want something warm, hot green tea can also help to soothe your tired senses. Sit on a chair and do your listing in a serene environment.  As you decide on what to serve for your family, especially if you have growing kids, keep in mind that the food pyramid is your best guide.

With millions of American families suffering from some kind of mental health issue, an inexpensive solution that can be widely implemented should be grabbed hold of with both hands. Taking the time to play and execute a healthy diet can have great benefit for your family.

Following this approach will enable limited resources to stretch further, including making funds available for other kinds of intervention, including therapy, which is now more easily available more than ever before. 

Marie Miguel is an avid internet researcher. She is fueled by her determination to answer the many questions she hasn't been able to find the answer to anywhere else. When she finds these answers she likes to spread the knowledge to others seeking help. She is always looking for outlets to share her information, therefore she occasionally has her content published on different websites and blogs. Even though she doesn't run one herself, she loves contributing to others.

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Talking Tales Books--Tools to Help Speech Development

Last week Speech and Language Pathologist, Erica Graham shared information about making the most of daily opportunities to enhance speech development with children.  Erica is also the author of the children's book series, "Talking Tales".  Here is Erica again, with insights into the birth of her series and excerpts from her books.

When children are learning to speak, they first observe how words sound. This helps them develop an understanding of speech sounds as they learn to talk. Many times when we are working on encouraging speech development or correcting speech sounds, speech-language pathologists will use word lists. However, parents often report difficulty finding time or difficulty getting their children to attend to word lists at home.

 I wanted to combine my knowledge as a speech-language pathologist with my love for writing to create a fun way for children and their caregivers to work on speech development and promote literacy. I also wanted to ensure that these books contained fun story lines that could be enjoyed by children who are not working on their speech. Each book targets a specific speech sound in the English language.

I am currently working on the fifth children’s book in my Talking Tales series. Feel free to sign up for my newsletter on or follow me on Facebook, Goodreads, or Amazon for more information as the release date nears.

About the Talking Tales Series
The Talking Tales books are not only fun stories, but they serve a unique purpose. This exciting new series is also designed to help with speech development.

When a child is learning to speak, he or she first learns how words sound by observing. Each book in the Talking Tales series is focused on a different core sound in its naturally occurring word positions, thus increasing a child’s awareness and helping him or her learn how to properly produce the targeted sound. I firmly believe that parents and caregivers are the most important people in a child’s life. For this reason, I have included some speech tips in the front of each book so that these books can be used in a home setting.

The Talking Tales books are tools to help speech development. They do not replace speech therapy. If you do have any questions or concerns about your child’s speech or language development, please consult his or her physician or speech language pathologist. These specialists will be able to help determine if your child’s speech is developing typically or if they may benefit from some intervention.

The Bright Red Tricycle--emphasizing the letter "r" sound

Talking Tales: The Bright Red Tricycle
The bright red tricycle loves spending every day riding around with his boy Ryan. But when Ryan’s dad brings home a new bicycle, the little red tricycle quickly finds himself on an unknown journey. Will the little red tricycle ever be ridden by Ryan again, or is he destined to rust away in a scrap yard? This story is a great tool for any parent or speech therapist. It explores the tale of the bright red tricycle while providing over 80 examples of the “r” sound in various word locations and blends to increase speech development. This book also includes tips for parents who are working with their child’s speech at home.

Work on the letter "t" sounds with your child while reading this book

Talking Tales: Cricket’s Guitar
When Teri hears a small voice calling her, she never would have guessed who she would meet…a cricket! But not just any cricket. This cricket has a guitar. He is hoping that Teri can help him replace a broken string on his guitar. Will Teri’s creative thinking be able to help cricket, or will cricket never play his guitar again? This engaging story is a great tool for any parent or speech therapist. It provides over 80 examples of the “t” sound in various word locations to increase speech development. This book also includes tips for parents who are working with their child’s speech at home.

The "s" sound in a fun book about Sam's Strawberry Sucker

Taking Tales: Sam’s Sticky Sucker
Sam has dreamed all night about his strawberry sucker. When morning arrives, he is unable to resist sneaking downstairs to eat his sucker before breakfast. But when mom comes toward the room and Sam is forced to run back to bed, he loses track of his sticky strawberry sucker. Now where could that sticky strawberry sucker have gone? Will Sam find the sucker before his mom? This funny story is a great tool for any parent or speech therapist. It provides over 170 examples of the “s” sound in various word locations and blends to increase speech development. This book also includes tips for parents who are working with their child’s speech at home.

A fun book that has lots of examples of early sounds

Talking Tales: Puppy’s Bubble
When Puppy wakes up from a nap, he sees a bubble. When it disappears, Puppy begins his long journey to find the missing bubble. Will Puppy find the bubble, or has it vanished forever? This engaging story is a fun way to read to little ones while promoting babbling, early words and language skills. It provides over 90 examples of some of the earliest developing sounds in their most common word positions including “p”, “b”, “m”, “n”, “d” and “h”. This book also includes tips to encourage speech development.

Follow Erica Graham at:

Join Erica Graham’s email list by sending your preferred email address to or by registering on

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Making the Most of Daily Opportunities: Encouraging Speech and Language Development by Erica Graham

This week I would like to feature Speech and Language Pathologist and author, Erica Graham.

Erica Graham graduated from Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville with her Master of Arts Degree in Speech Language Pathology. She also holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence with the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. 

Erica Graham, author and SLP

As a mother of two, Erica understands the difficulty parents have finding time to complete speech homework with their children.  In her pursuit to create a fun, easy way for therapists, children, and their parents to enhance speech development while promoting literacy, she has written a series of exciting children’s books.  Each book focuses on a core sound used in the English language. Outside of writing and working as a Speech Language Pathologist, Erica enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and daughters, volunteering with the youth group at church, and a good cup of tea.

Here is her article, 

"Making the Most of Daily Opportunities:  Encouraging Speech and Language Development."

Observation is one of the first steps we take when learning a new skill. This is also the case for a child who is learning how to speak. While they listen to sounds of words and how sentences are formed, they develop a model for basic speech and language skills. Caregivers play an important role in these early stages of learning as they have the largest impact on a child’s early years of life. Here are some tips on how to recognize and make the most of opportunities to encourage speech and language development.

Anytime is a good time to work with speech.
Speech acquisition as part of a daily routine
Life as a parent is busy and finding time to work specifically on speech skills can be challenging. The good news is speech can be targeted at anytime; while playing, while feeding, even during diaper changes. If you and your child are attending to a task together, that is the perfect time to target speech.

Take advantage of every one-on-one moment with your child

Take advantage of the times your child is focused completely on you.
Children, and many adults for that matter, are easily distracted. If you find yourself in a situation that your child is completely focused on you and your face, take advantage. Decrease distractions such as the TV or radio and sit across from your child so he or she can see your face. Speak in short simple words or phrases to allow your child to process and even practice imitating sounds. Excellent times to work with a child include in a cart while shopping, during diaper changes, or playing with a toy together.

Conversations without distractions

Praise speaking attempts.
If you child tries to imitate a word or sound, praise them, even if it was not said perfectly. If a word is produced incorrectly, don’t demand that they continue trying until they say it right. Simply confirm what they said while emphasizing the correct articulation. For example:
Child: “Boad”
Parent: “Yes, that is a boat.”

Read together.
Books are an excellent way to promote early speech and language skills. Attempt to set aside time to read every day.

Read together--it helps develop language skills in your children

Not all sounds are created equal.
Some sounds are more difficult to make than others. Sounds that are visual are typically the easiest sounds for a child to produce. These are sounds that you make with your lips, the tip of your tongue, or sounds with little tension such as “p”, “b”, “d”, “m”, “n” and “h” as well as vowels. Sounds such as “r” and “th” are more difficult and will be mastered at a later age.

The "r" and "th" sounds are more difficult to learn

If you ever find yourself with questions or concerns about your child’s speech or language development, do not hesitate to consult your child’s physician or a speech-language pathologist. There are many situations that could lead to a delay and early intervention is essential. They can assess your child to determine if your concerns are age appropriate or if they would benefit from some skilled intervention.

The most important thing to remember when working with your child’s speech is to have fun. You may not take advantage of every opportunity, or even use strategies correctly every time, and that is okay. Just try your best and enjoy every moment with your child.

Erica Graham, MS, CCC-SLP

Next week we will feature some excerpts from Erica's Talking Tales book series!

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Traits of Successful People---How to Raise Successful Kids By Trisha Roberts

Kids learn skills in childhood that lead to success as adults

If you ask any American mom or dad what they want for their children when they are grown, independence and success rate high on the list.  So how do we develop independence and success?  What is success?  What is independence?  We’ll look at developing independence in another blog.  For now, let’s discuss success.

One definition of success from Merriam-Webster Dictionary states that success is a, “favorable or desired outcome; also:  the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence.

I would further state that success can be a satisfactory completion of a task or goal; to gain respect, esteem or approval.  Successful can also mean fruitful, positive, effective, popular, wealthy, thriving, flourishing, productive, victorious, unbeaten, or triumphant.

A recent study examined the childhood attributes of successful people and how parents play a role in their development.  Two contributing factors that were common in people labeled as “successful” were:
  •      The early development of a work ethic—they make their kids do chores
  •      They develop good relationships—they are given the opportunity to give and receive love.

How does a child develop a work ethic?  Observing the value parents (and other significant adults) place  on doing work, the desire to work hard, the determination to do a good job, and perseverance in completing tasks, goes a long way toward developing a good sense of work ethic.  Parents who believe that work is a moral good--that it can be fun, that it is fruitful, that it is rewarding—model for children an attitude that is frequently followed as they grow up.

But observation is not enough.  Children should be given appropriate chores at an early age. A young child can be asked to put their laundered and folded clothes in their drawers or cupboard; this is actually a great way to reinforce memory and sorting.

Even young kids are able to do appropriate chores

Doing dishes together as a family develops a good work ethic

Chores are important teaching tools.

Picking up toys, feeding a pet, making a bed, emptying trash cans around the house, drying dishes, carrying groceries in from the car, and setting the table are all chores that even young children can learn and accomplish. When children participate in chores, they solidify the family unit—they come to understand that work needs to be done and each person needs to contribute for the betterment of the entire family. They experience the joy and success of a job completed and feel valued for their role. We hear today of children growing up feeling "entitled", "elite", and "exempt". Let's teach our kids to be team players and to work together for the good of the home unit!

This is also a part of developing good relationships and which is another key factor in developing healthy, successful children. All of us long to be loved and accepted.  Children need to experience love and have an opportunity to express love.  From infancy onward, children need to hear the words, “I love you” and to experience love in a language they understand. (See Gary Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts”).  A touch, a gift, a statement of worth, quality time, and an act of service are ways to express love.  Parents should model loving behavior and encourage children to express their love and appreciation for other family members, neighbors, and acquaintances.

Giving and receiving love is an important part of development in children

There is no “perfect family” or a family that never experiences conflict, but when children see parents resolving differences they are reassured that their parents can work through difficulties and are committed to one another and to the family.  Even in divorced homes, children experience less emotional damage when their parents choose to get along.

Business Insider states in their article,  Ensure a Great Education for Students Across the Country, “Chronic stress from repeated exposure to destructive conflict can result in kids that are worried, anxious, hopeless, angry, aggressive, behaviorally-challenged, sickly, tired, and struggling academically.

Conflict resolution leads to restored balance; kids are reassured of the love and commitment their parents. They learn social skills that help them be productive, successful and fulfilled as adults.

Successful adults learn as children a positive work ethic and good social skills
Prepared to Take on the World!

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Scooter Board Activities By Trisha Roberts

A scooter board is an excellent toy for promoting exercise.  It is fun!  It is versatile! Activities can be done individually, in teams, racing against individuals, or timed. A scooter board is light weight and portable. It can be used inside or outside on a smooth surface.

Scooter Board activities are great for strengthening and motor planning!

Get a Scooter Board today!  Build Strength!  Improve Motor Planning!     Have Fun!


  • Improved core (trunk) strength
  • Improved leg strength
  • Improved arm strength
  • Increases endurance
  • Aerobic exercise
  • Improved Motor Planning Skills

Some ways to use a scooter board:

  • Sitting, using heels to propel forward
  • Sitting, using heels to push backward
  • On Tummy (Prone), using arms to advance
  • On Tummy (Prone), using arms and legs to advance
  • Using 2 inexpensive (clean!) plungers to move forward in sitting or prone
Obstacle course on scooter board

  • Obstacle course
  • Place blocks or other small toys on one end of the room and a container on the other end.  Have child race on scooter to pick up the toys one at a time and place them in the container.
Scooter Board ideas

  • Place a coloring sheet or puzzle on the floor.  Scatter crayons/markers/puzzle pieces around the room and have your child maneuver the scooter board to get the next colored marker or the next piece for the puzzle.
Scooter Board and Puzzle assembly

  • “Body Bowling”—set up stuffed animals, small boxes, stacked blocks, etc. on one end of the room and have child zoom down and knock them over.
  • Scooter board soccer—have 1 or more children sitting on scooter boards and kicking a ball toward a goal (2 chairs 3-4 feet apart, a large card board box on its side, etc.)
  • Have child hold a hula hoop or the end of a rope (tying a knot in it will help them get a better grip) and then pull them around the room.
Rope pull on scooter board

  • Tie a long rope to a door knob and have the child pull themselves hand over hand along the rope.
  • Have the child draw a line (zig zag, square, circle, etc.) on the sidewalk or driveway and then scooter board around the form or line.
  • Place 4 or more pool noodles in parallel, spaced 3-4 feet apart.  Have child “drive” down each lane, executing the turns without touching the pool noodles.
  • Use a pool noodle to bat a ball or balloon from one end of the room to the other—fun for one and exciting for several children!
  • Incorporate some imaginary play!  Pretend your child is running errands and the scooter board is their car.  Where do they need to go?  What will they bring home in the “trunk” of the car?

Fun on a scooter board

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Digital Addiction (Part 2) By Trisha Roberts

Digital Technology can be addicting

There is a way out of digital addiction

Digital Addiction can be overcome, but it takes work

Last week we discussed what Digital Addiction is and how pervasive screen usage has become. Research and anecdotal information is showing that early exposure to this form of stimulation can be more detrimental than helpful.

Let’s be honest.  After a long day at work, it is much easier to hand a child an IPad than engage them in a family activity.  A video game is often cheaper than a babysitter.  Planning creative play takes time.  It is easy to rationalize with, “It’s educational”, so it must be good.  Many parents struggle with staying off their devices themselves and feel guilty denying their children when they are frequently distracted by technology. 

Early screen use should be limited

There seems to be an urgent desire or need to "check in" with our social media. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a new term that has surfaced to describe this.  Wikipedia defines it as,  "a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent".  This social angst is characterized by "a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing"."  The problem with this type of behavior is that a person is no longer actively participating in life!  Instead of focusing on their present situation with all of its potential pleasure and enjoyment, they are worried about what others might be experiencing without them! We become "glued" to our screens!

Preoccupation with screens causes us to not be available in the here and now

From a Physical Therapist’s point of view, frequent use of electronic devices is very unhealthy.  First of all, children are being encouraged to participate in sedentary activities rather than the activities that lead to better strength, balance, and motor control needed for a lifetime of good health. Kids are at risk for “repetitive use” injuries to their fingers, wrists, and hands.

Healthy development involves imaginative play, creativity, social interaction, engagement with nature. Children need to develop healthy relationships with parents, peers, and siblings. Conversation doesn't develop when looking at a screen--it develops with time spent one-on-one, face-to-face!

Make time to talk with your kids!


  • Keep your children from getting addicted in the first place! 
  • Don’t buy a tablet for your child until they are at least 10 years old. Remember, you are the parent and you hold the purse strings!!  (You would not buy a 6 year old a Corvette just because they pleaded for one--they are not old enough to reach the pedals nor responsible enough to drive!)
  • Limit screen time to 15 minutes per day for younger children and adjust for older children
  • Sit and play and educational game WITH your children then turn the screen off and put it away.
  • Tie Internet use to completion of homework or chores.
  • When you have a quiet moment, write out a list of fun, active things to do.  Put them on slips of paper and put them in a jar.  Let kids pick a slip every day and do the corresponding activity.  (This could be very helpful when you are arriving home from work and trying to get supper on the table!)
  • Try a "Token" System:  Issue a set number of tokens that correspond to minutes of Internet use per week. Add additional minutes for stellar behavior or let children earn more minutes by completing additional chores.  Take away minutes for poor behavior or uncompleted homework/chores.
  • Discuss with your children why you are limiting their access to electronic devices.
  • Play a card game, board game or puzzle inside, take a walk outside, or kick a ball around.
  • Don’t buy a smart phone until your child is a teenager.  (If they need a phone to stay in touch with parents, arrange after-school activities, etc., consider a “non-smart” phone with the ability to make a phone call and nothing else!)
  • Place computers in public areas of the house rather than in children’s bedrooms.
  • Require that all devices be placed outside of bedroom doors at a set hour of the night.
  • Set a timer on the modem to limit Internet access to given hours of the day/night.
  • Eat meals without any devices, including television.  Concentrate on conversation! Read our article on, "Making Meal Time Great!".

If you suspect that your child is already "addicted", contact your pediatrician and plan a course of action!

Copyright © 2017 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.