Do you ever wonder what toys to get for your newborn child - or perhaps another newborn/infant within your circle of friends?  Although this list would probably have been helpful a month ago, it is never too late to plan for next year (or perhaps an upcoming birthday)! 

For the 0-3 Month Crowd:

Rattles - Anything that can make some noise as the baby kicks and flails while on his/her back. This is how your child will begin to develop an awareness of his/her body. With straps are great for playtime, but do not be afraid to give them ones to hold! Grasping objects in their hands will help develop their sense of proprioception (body in space).  This one can be found through Amazon. It is a little bright - but the concept is correct. Keep in mind that your newborn sees the world in black, white and red at first. Don't put the bright colors up to their faces immediately.  

Mobiles - attached wherever the baby plays- just be sure that the baby is not looking behind the head.  Place it above the chest but not too low (no grabbing!).  Slow moving with simple images to increase focus. A great way to practice tracking of objects!  My advice - limit usage in the crib. As we are try to orient baby to day vs. night times, we want to encourage SLEEPING in the crib. We used this one. You can find it on Amazon.
Mirrors - Really great for helping your child to develop facial recognition. Some of the first smiles you see may be when your child is watching him/herself in the mirror. My own EtiKids loved this mirror, as it was very versatile. We used it for tummy time and while playing with "overhead" toys. We did not use it in the crib because it was very important for him to learn that cribs are for sleeping (also for my own sanity!). We purchased this one from Amazon
Tummy Time Mat - As mentioned in previous posts, placing your baby on his/her tummy will increase proprioception, awareness, and social skills, as well as head and neck control. Additionally, it will help prepare your child for other developmental skills, including sitting, crawling, and walking!  I used THIS MAT for my  EtiKids. I felt that this encouraged a sense of awareness of the entire body, thanks to the addition of the piano. When the babies seemed to need a change of scenery (after playing with the animals), I turned them around to make music with the piano. I also attached the mirror (seen above), so the kiddos could look at themselves in action.  

This post begins the series of What Should We Play With? Stay tuned for more developmentally appropriate toys through the ages.  And as always, it is important to get down on the floor and play with your newborn- it is never too early to begin modeling social skills!
Social skills are the building blocks to a preschool education. While children may learn letters, numbers, shapes and even the beginning stages of reading, it is here that they develop the most important skill of all: social relations. Children learn these skills through observations of others, including parents, friends, and relatives. As children need frequent reminders of appropriate social behaviors in the early stages of making a learned behavior seem innate, they may require assistance from you. Fellow occupational therapists and teachers like to use the term: Teachable Moments.

A teachable moment is unscripted and unplanned. When the grownup is observing the child/children engaged in play, an opportunity may arise to positively redirect the negative behaviors or reward desired behaviors. By helping the child/children recreate the scene and identify what was correct vs. what could be changed, you are helping them develop awareness of their own pro-social behaviors.

For example, Henry is playing with blocks in the middle of the floor. Charlie is in the corner with his favorite puzzle. Once completed, Charlie puts away the puzzle and sits down in front of Henry’s castle and says, “That’s a big building. Can I play blocks with you?” Henry quickly responds, “You are stupid, it’s a castle!” Dejected and angry, Charlie walks away, accidentally tripping on the rug and causing the demise of the castle. Henry starts screaming and crying. The teacher has observed the entire episode and sits the two boys down to discuss the incident. They review classroom rules, how words can hurt and apologies are made.

Although the boys are upset, Henry learns that calling people “ugly names” – or using the “S” words are not acceptable social behaviors. With the teacher’s guidance, he recognizes that hurting someone’s feelings makes everyone sad. Charlie learns that you can let someone know you are angry without damaging property.

To redirect attention and enhance social skills, the teacher gives the boys a book to to share about different types of buildings. A castle is a building and there are many types of buildings: big, small, commercial, castles, high-rise condominiums and offices. As the next activity begins, the boys decide they will try to build the biggest building in the world!

To make the most of a teachable moment:

1. Listen more and speak less. Observe behaviors and listen to conversation before jumping to conclusion and interfering in children’s activities. If there is no danger, allow the children to resolve their issue without intervention.

2. Following the incident, offer praise for using their best manners to resolve differences and not hurting anyone’s feelings.

3. Trust children to mirror the behaviors they see. Patience, kindness, respect and understanding can make a difference in the way people are perceived.

In EtiKids classes, teachable moments are used because they are the most meaningful to the child. If you have any questions about how to incorporate this method into your daily parenting routine, please do not hesitate to contact Julie.
has even more examples of teachable moments for you to check out!

Liar -- Liar Pants on Fire…..
It’s a familiar child rhyme originating from a poem by William Blake.

“Deceiver, dissembler -Your trousers are alight
From what pole or gallows -Shall they dangle in the night?...”

While we are not exactly sure what pants on fire has to do with lying, it springs up in play when one child accuses another of lying. Today’s society offers many examples, such as doctors giving vague prognosis, politicians making campaign promises, and family members providing other "reasons" for tardiness at the family dinner. EtiKids is here to shed light on a not-so-positive social skill that continually re-emerges throughout history... The preschooler and the tall-tales. Yes, the start of school often causes many false stories to emerge from our favorite little friends. Although seemingly amusing when a three-year-old does it, it is not so funny when that same person does it twenty years later.

Fact: Preschoolers have great imaginations. However, in their fantasy worlds, it becomes difficult to transition between real-life and make-believe. There is no doubt in their minds that "a monster did it."

For some, the imaginary friend, Jennifer or Jack, is involved in mischievous capers. Wet pants, spilled juice or missed cookies are always Jenny’s fault. A few weeks ago, when a dangling ceiling-fan pull broke, a mini family member swiftly claimed, “I didn’t do it! It just happened!"

Lying is a behavior that all children will try at some period in their lives. If one is lucky, it is attempted at an early age and quickly discouraged. The most important tool a parent can use is to react appropriately and set a positive example for the child. A loving and trusting relationship can begin as early as preschool age.

In the article, Why Kids Lie (and How You Can Encourage Honesty) by Deborah Bohn, Dr. Michele Borba, a nationally renowned educator and author of Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues that Teach Kids to Do the Right Thing, describes this behavior as "wishful thinking." She reminds parents that three-year-olds don't think the same way that adults do, and they ACTUALLY WISH that someone else broke your favorite lamp!

Some tips for when your munchkin looks up at you with enormous brown eyes and says, “I saw the little mouse knock over the cookie jar, and it broke.”

1. With a positive response, let the child know the truth is appreciated, offer a warm hug and smile; and then assist in the clean-up of the mess. As it is merely wishful thinking, it is important to address the child calmly. Dr. Borba would even ask the child if he/she wishes that a little mouse would have broken the cookie jar.

2. Avoid asking the obvious question, Did you break this lamp with the soccer ball? This provides a child with the perfect opportunity to lie. While they are standing amidst the shattered ruins of a lamp, ball in hand, one can say, “I see the lamp is broken. We do not play ball inside the house. Please get a dust pan and broom. No more ball playing today.” As a grownup, it is possible to set limits without punitive measures.

3. Finally, set an example as a role model. Children learn by modeled behavior, and they are mindful of all habits good and bad. Lying to a spouse about the price of a new power tool or the purchase of another pair of shoes sets a double standard that children do not understand. If a child consistently tells fibs, it is often helpful to think about what behaviors a child may be observing in and out of the home.

Lying is not a virtue worth keeping and can be stopped. Preschool children are not in positions to discriminate good lies from bad ones; therefore, it is helpful to be consistent. Starting early sets into motion the idea of positive and negative behavior. Most important, it creates a solid foundation for a trusting relationship in the family.

As always, EtiKids is here to help. If your tall-tale-teller (say that 5 times, fast!) is way too inventive, contact us for more information on how to positively reinforce good behavior!

And for conversation purposes: What was the most crafty excuse that your child invented? How was it handled?

Research has been done about divorce and its effect on children’s development for quite some time. Although this article seems to relate to common sense, it was a surprise to find out that children are most susceptible to "side effects" of the separation during and after the divorce. Even more interesting was that math scores and social skills are those most affected by the unfortunate situation. The article, "Children of divorced lack in math, social skills" by Reuters cites time split between parents, psychological impairments (such as depression and anxiety), and parents not spending enough time with their children as reasons for the diminishing of these pertinent skills. It discusses how children are becoming increasingly more anxious and unable to focus on the tasks at hand. In today’s society, which still has an incredibly high rate of divorce among parents, this information can hopefully lead to some changes for the greater good of children. Rather than focus on what is not being done, it is important to recognize behaviors that can be changed immediately:

1) Make a schedule with children present, so they know when they will be spending time with each parent. By involving children in the process, they will feel more in control and comfortable with the situation as they will be able to predict the changes in routine.

2) Help them establish new routines in each house- and stick with them. Although divorce seems like a reason to never speak again, it is important to communicate (amicably) about the child. Attempting to create similar structures and routines in each house will help children feel safe in both locations.

3) Keep a notebook of school assignments. Each parent should be responsible for reading it. Ask the child’s teacher to contribute as well, so everyone can have information about the child. This will help all responsible parties monitor areas that are potentially becoming problematic.

4) Make sure to eat meals with together with the child. Meal time is a great way to model appropriate social skills (eye contact, table manners, reciprocal conversation). By setting the expectation that positive social behaviors should be used always, the child will begin to utilize them in situations in and out of the home. It is important to be consistent and reinforce the social skills as often as possible!

5) Nobody ever wins in divorce, but the children do not have to be the biggest losers of all. Through the use of these techniques, the child can continue to develop without negatively impact the cognitive and social growth. Contact EtiKids for more information.

Ok, ok, we know it's been a quite a while.
EtiKids blogs haven't been able to make you smile.
We've missed you tons and couldn't stay away.
We're back to give tips on using manners every day.

Social skills are important as kids get older- even more than before.
They will help your child be leaders in the classroom, on the playground, and on a school tour!
The summer has just started, so it is time to prepare.
Help your child succeed and show them you care.

Before next school year starts with a bang-
Let EtiKids help teach social skills to your gang!
So contact us with stories, comments or questions-
We are always hear to listen to and share suggestions.

Looking forward for what's to come, be prepared to hear a lot.
Just remember... It is not too early to teach your tot!

Julie and Co.
Good Sportsmanship On and Off the Field…

“You cheated.” “Did not!” “Did too!” “Did not!” “Did too!” The biting words are common, endless and universal. Usually viewed during an exchange between children on the playing field, one can easily transfer a similar outburst years later in an adult setting (such as a boardroom). Often the stakes are greater and can lead to dangerous accusations and severe consequences. When is a game so much more than a game?

While there are many forms of cheating, none of them are acceptable. Breaking of rules intentionally or unintentionally for one’s benefit is not a tolerable behavior. The violation can be specific to a game or a more subjective breach of societal norms, customs, values, ethical and moral standards. Permitting the conduct to continue sends a message of acceptance while encouraging the formation of a negative pattern of behavior.

Cheating is not good at 5, 15, or 55 years of age. Sally bamboozles during a game of Candyland without penalty. Johnny secretly deceives while playing cards. Later, both feel that cheating on exams or homework is okay since no one is hurt. Sally is later surprised when she is fired from her job for not providing the proper services for clients, and Johnny is appalled to be fined by the IRS for inconsistencies on his tax return.

Overlooking the negative behavior from a preschooler lets them believe it is all right. EtiKids' curriculum is based on a standard of integrity and quality. Children are expected to be truthful and display sportsmanship. Fostering the social skills that will make them functional members of society comes with practice and expectations. These can be cultivated using a few helpful hints.

1. Learn the rules of the game. Children’s games have rules to follow; adults follow the culture of an institution or customs of a society. Teach children how the game is played. Focus on good behaviors, sharing, listening and playing fair.

2. Learn from mistakes and provide opportunity to do better by practicing. The blame game makes teammates feel bad. Think of how the situation could be avoided and a better way of accomplishing the goal.

3. Learn to lose graciously. There are winners and losers in every game. Losing provides valuable lessons for all. After all, there is always next time...

4. Be polite on and off the field, in and out of work or home. Leave the whining for babies. Showing off is not necessary. Good players are recognized and respected even more for setting a positive example. Trash talk is just that… garbage for the can!

5. Point out the positive. Catch children at their best! Children naturally want to please their parents. Recognize actions that emphasize good moral values and judgment. Simultaneously, it is good to express disapproval of unacceptable conduct; be careful to focus the remark on the behavior, not the child him/herself.

The grownups need to model the behavior for kids. Teaching children to play fairly in the sandbox now will be extremely helpful for them once they grow up. After all, imagine a world filled with love, truth and mutual respect. The dream can become a reality if the kids learn it now.

Winter brings colds, runny noses, sneezes and coughs. Too few layers
outside, lots of clothing for inside, too much heat on in the room and insufficient warmth all raise the chance of becoming chilled and catching a bug! Stress, lack of sleep, holiday overindulgence and viral exposure may increase the odds that a cold will develop. While it may not be possible to live in a sterile environment, there are ways to minimize the damage and not further the virus chain!

An EtiKids favorite, Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo! by Rosetta Stone is a reminder of how easily something as small as the sneeze of an insect can have a greater impact. “You may not believe it, but here’s how it happened. One fine summer morning… a little bug sneezed…..”

There is no need to pass along the germs that can cause a cold or worse yet, the flu. The Center for Disease Control highlights the importance of making sure the mouth and nose are covered when sneezing or coughing so infectious droplets stay clear of the mouths or noses of nearby people. To lessen the chances of becoming sick or passing an illness on to someone else, the following suggestions can be added to your list of good health manners to remember:

1. Throw used tissues into the garbage, safely out of reach of an innocent passerby.
Keep soiled tissues off the counter, desk or any other surface readily accessible and easily contaminated.

2. Use an upper sleeve or elbow when tissues are unavailable. EtiKids teaches children to cough or sneeze into their sleeve. A CDC publication states, “Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth”.

3. Wash hands often. Use soap and water to wash hands vigorously for at least 20
seconds. Sing the alphabet or birthday song to estimate the time. Hand sanitizers are a
handy substitute in the absence of soap and water.

4. Don’t share if you care! Like a secret, personal items like a toothbrush, glass or eating utensils are best kept to oneself.

5. Stay home. The easiest way to transmit a cold is close contact with others such as at work or in school.

Winter time keeps more people indoors in closer contact. Be vigilant and mindful of
others with lower levels of resistance. Social skills includes good health habits too! Be cheerful and stay healthy!

(Forgive us friends, for we have been negligent. It has been quite some time since our last post... Better late than never!)

As the New Year approaches, it is a good time to review some of last year’s social highlights and check for areas to change, improve or tweak. When this year’s holiday parties come to a close for 2010, there is opportunity to evaluate and take note of the value of one’s social skills.

All month long there have been episodes of individuals’ double-dunking, licking fingers at the table and the best, eating crudités directly over the platter as excess sauce was drooled right into the dip bowl (Yuck)! There were observable first dates with conversation flowing in only one direction, missed appointments and inappropriate attire at parties and social gatherings. During a shopping frenzy at a local shop, acceptable behaviors were replaced with nasti-tudes, observed when two women got into a vulgar verbal quarrel.

Friendships were strained by inappropriate comments, breakdown in communication and lack of sensitivity. Families were lax in extending common courtesies to one another. Bullies ruled in schools as administrators were in a quandary of how to handle situations. Words such as please and thank you often were forgotten in conversations and feelings were hurt. Sorry was often too late.

Farting and other bodily noises increased, becoming much more visible and acceptable on TV, in the movies and in comedy shows. Radios blasted in decibels so high, they registered on the Richter scale. Guests and hosts forgot their manners by having unrealistic expectations and making impossible demands of time and resources.

As cell phone technology improved and use was on the rise, basic etiquette spiraled downward exponentially. It was not unusual to dine with people texting at the table, conversing in loud tones in quiet or public places, and checking scores at social functions.

Conducting business in the waiting room of a doctor’s office was one of the many examples of lack of consideration.

As we move into the New Year, EtiKids invites everyone to think about adding a resolution that gives latitude to gratitude by incorporating a new social skill. Here are a few ideas!

Have a conversation without using the word “I”. Give others the leeway to share their thoughts, ideas and experiences. Listen more.

Add the magic words please and thank you in conversation, especially when talking to children. According to research, it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Use the next month to assure the addition of those words to daily vocabulary. Set the example, model the behavior and watch the words appear in the child’s every day language

Make a commitment to learn table manners. Give yourself the freedom to enjoy social situations where etiquette will come in handy be it a first date, business dinner, formal fundraiser or casual celebration.

Take time for pampering oneself. Getting enough rest and relaxation fosters patience and politeness with others.

Book an EtiKids party or class for your next home or school function. Any EtiKids workshop is a welcome and fun addition to an organization’s meeting, professional seminar or business event. Programs are fun, entertaining and filled with strategies to include etiquette in a corporate culture and everyday life.

Please let us know how you are doing. We invite you to share a success story or tell us how your resolutions are progressing. May the year bring joy, good health and peace to all….Thank you!

I recently did a survey on the EtiKids website. The question was “do you make children say please when you ask for something?” Out of the responses, 58.3% said they do “all of the time.” 16.7% said “not as often as I should,” and 25% had other answers, including, “I will when I have a child!” and “Yes- but they are not my children…” 0% of the people said never!

The word “please” is to be used when you want something: to ask rather than to demand. That “magic word,” as it is often referred to for children, changes the tone of the sentence. An ultimatum begins to resemble a request, and the demeanor between the involved parties relaxes. A person is more willing to get the job done (with far less under-the-breath muttering) should that word be included.

The results of this poll should show just how hard it is to enforce that 1 word into daily vocabulary. Although it is amazing that more than half of the pollers are diligent about regularly enforcing the use of the word please, the 16.7% were brutally honest in their “not as often as I should” answers.

From an article on Parents Connect, Nanny Stella gives great advice for teaching children to use the word please (and thank you) in 3 steps: “1) show by example, 2) praise the pleases, and 3) be a broken record.”

Children truly learn from behavior being modeled, meaning, they learn by watching those around them. Control the market by showing them the behaviors that you want them to exhibit in public. If you want a child to hand you the cup of water instead of spill it, you should say, “Please hand me the water.” When the child uses the language on his/her own, praise him/her repeatedly. Positive reinforcement, is a highly effective way to teach children behaviors that you wish for them to continue without negative repercussions. Finally, if the child doesn’t use the word please, do not provide them with what they want until the magic word is said. For children, their new language can become innate with a bit of consistent practice. They will get it.

Children love challenges, so provide them the opportunity to rise to the occasion. Count how many people said, “please” when they asked for something, whether in a restaurant, in a classroom, in a store. Let the kids listen for the magic word, and let them watch people’s reactions when it is and is not used. Children can learn from their own recognition skills: why politeness matters.

Please is the most basic of social etiquette; the politeness displayed by the courtesy will open doors with its usage. Teaching children this social skill at a young age will ensure mastery and give them the tools to succeed as grownups.

That is the question…

Kids put many objects into their mouths such as fingers, pen tops, pencil erasers, but one of the most socially acceptable items found in the oral cavity is chewing gum. A popular habit from the age of the caveman, it is often used to relieve stress, freshen breath, and may even prevent plaque buildup and gum disease. Studies by The Wrigley Science Institute (dedicated to studying gum), have suggested it may have an effect on appetite and memory. Not to mention that it is most helpful providing oral-motor stimulation to a child with sensory needs (talk to your Occupational Therapist about this). According to, over 100,000 tons of chewing gum are being consumed every year. It clearly provides enjoyment and sensory stimulation to many people. But... While gum can be useful, gum chewing can be one of the most annoying habits to watch.

Sticky and gooey, a piece of gum can be chewed for hours, used to blow bubbles or “put it on the bedpost overnight”** to resume chewing in the morning. It can end up on the bottom of an unsuspecting shoe, stuck in someone’s hair, strategically placed under a desk or plastered all over an unsuspecting face once the bubble bursts. It is pliable enough to stretch into long strands, twist into pretzels and can be used to make hideously loud clacking noises. Mostly, it is irritating to everyone else subjected to watching the monotonous chewing motion and listening to the sound effects of repetitive mastication. Since gum is not on the verge of extinction, should gum be banned or is there etiquette to chewing the rubber?

Two problems noted by Sheryl Eberly, author of 365 Manners Kids Should Know are the visual image and what to do after it’s been chewed (known as ABC gum). The most obvious solution is not to partake in the habit which is not really a viable alternative.

Following a few simple EtiKids' guidelines can help eliminate references to “chewing like a cow” or other ruminant animals from family, friends and teachers. Basically, chewing gum should be avoided in public places such as school, houses of worship, social events (weddings, birthday parties, theater), job interviews, private classes or studios, and any other place one may talk, eat or disturb others.

· Use small pieces one at a time, not giant wads that pad the cheeks. EtiKids stresses social skills and encourages behaviors that keep food inside the mouth. This is much easier to do if the mouth is not full. Bubbles are a no-no!

· Cracking gum and blowing bubbles is not an enjoyable experience for those not chewing. To be polite, refrain from such actions. The person on the left will be quite thankful.

· While chewing, lips should remain closed. This helps to eliminate sound effects. Chomping noises are never considered good manners.

· Share with friends. If one is tempted to slip a piece of gum into the mouth, make sure a piece is offered to accompanying friends.

· To remove gum from the mouth, place in a tissue and put in the trash. Please do not throw it in the toilet or spit it out. That’s a blog for another time!

Parents can set be helpful and set guidelines. Exaggerate for children what open mouth chewing looks like and discuss how it is perceived. Explain that it is difficult to remove if it gets on one’s clothes or in hair, and it should not to be swallowed.

Most important for safety, parents should remember choking is one of the leading causes of death to children that are age three and under. In addition to the usual dangers of hot dogs, peanuts and whole grapes, chewing gum is listed as a safety hazard by the American Academy of Pediatrics and should be a concern for parents. Be prepared, learn the Heimlich maneuver!


Oh-me, oh-my, oh-you
Whatever shall I do
Hallelujah, the question is peculiar
I'd give a lot of dough
If only I could know
The answer to my question
Is it yes or is it no

Does your chewing gum lose its flavour
On the bedpost overnight
If your mother says don't chew it
Do you swallow it in spite
Can you catch it on your tonsils
Can you heave it left and right
Does your chewing gum lose its flavour
On the bedpost overnight

Based on the 1924 original by Ernest Hare & Billy Jones, "Does The Spearmint Lose Its Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight? (Marty Bloom / Ernest Breuer / Billy Rose)

Lonnie Donegan - 1958 (Also recorded by: Ding Dongs)