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Friday, June 30, 2017

How to Develop Independence in Children By Trisha Roberts

Most parents would say that they want their children to grow up and be “independent”.  But what exactly does that look like and how do we develop that? Independence is learning to do things for one’s self and becoming less dependent on others.

When children leave home to live on their own after high school or college, they should have the life skills necessary to be independent.  They should be able to clean their room and home, launder their clothes, organize their belongings, change sheets on a bed, plan healthy meals, grocery shop, cook/bake, hang pictures securely on a wall, manage a savings and checking account, perform basic mechanics on their car (change a tire, fill the wiper fluid, and maybe change the oil), recycle, formulate a budget, and pay bills in a timely fashion, to name a few.

Learning to change a tire is an important life skill

Teach kids how to balance the checkbook

These skills are learned--they do not simply appear or emerge.  An infant is totally dependent on its parents and care providers for the
provision of food, positional changes, bathing, diapering, etc.  As a toddler grows and a child matures they can take on more responsibility for their own care and help with the needs of the family unit, thus learning the skills they will need to live independently. Chores are an essential part of life as we age; let’s teach children to enjoy work and the sense of accomplishment a job well done brings to a person.  Life is much more pleasant when we learn to find satisfaction in the simple, day-to-day tasks.

Many things are learned by trial and error, but parents can facilitate the development of independence by introducing age-appropriate chores as their children grow and mature.  Numerous skills are initially taught by observation with a gradual assumption of responsibility for the entire task.

Example 1:  Allowing a young child to watch as you wash, dry, and fold clothes is a start toward laundry competence.  Encouraging children to separate the dark clothes from the lighter colored clothes teaches colors, sorting, and counting and is also one of the necessary skills for washing.  Letting kids put clothes in or take them out of the dryer practices the concept of in and out and is good physical exercise (squat-to-stand--strengthening and bending—flexibility).  Teaching children to fold shirts, match socks, and put clothing in closets and drawers can be good educational opportunities as well as the beginning of life skills needed for self-sufficient living.

Folding Clothes is a good beginning chore

Example 2:   Even very young children are fascinated by the process of washing dishes. Let them stand on a chair (make sure that they have the balance to do so!  Or have a look at a great Kitchen Helper that allows kids to work alongside adults in the kitchen safely!) Let them use the faucet hose to rinse off dishes.  Let them place the silverware in the dishwasher basket.  They can learn great skills by stacking and counting small plates.

Children by age five should have specific chores that are their day responsibility.  As they grow, the number of chores or complexity of the chores may increase.  Some chores that could be assumed by children include:

  • Make their own bed
  • Put folded clothes away
  • Feed or water Pets
  • Put toys on shelves or in bins (see our article, “Organize the Playroom”)
  • Set the table
  • Empty the dishwasher
  • Dust the house
  • Empty the trash baskets in each room
Watering and feeding pets are good early chores
Making a bed is an early life skill

Other life skills, such as balancing a checkbook, changing a tire, or formulating a weekly meal plan, are activities that should be taught as a teenager. Make a list of the skills you want your teenager to master and then schedule times to work on those activities.

Make sure that your children are as prepared for life on their own as you can.  Have high expectations—have the confidence in your kids that they can do a successful job.  Encourage them and gently guide and correct errors as needed.  Independence is a valuable virtue—make a conscious effort to instill it in your children!

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

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

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

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.