Princess Ky Background - The cutest blog on the block

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Pinkalicious (Feeding) Party

(Be sure to scroll down to see all the pictures)

 We were going to some pretty big extremes to pull this off, but this was our last ditch effort at helping our child who had regressed significantly in her feeding issues. Kylie is now 8 years old and experiences Autism.  One of the things that goes along with that diagnoses (for Kylie) is significant sensory issues which also create feeding issues.

Feeding issues can be sensory, psychological, emotional or physical.

And, let me share a personal note here... Feeding issues are HARD!!  They are a continuous (multiple times a day) battle.

On most days, Kylie has to be hand fed (she doesn't want to touch food) and she has an extremely limited diet (usually only 5-7 select foods that she will eat. If she adds a food, she will usually reject a former favorite.)  It takes months, even years for her to feel comfortable enough to be able to sit at the table with an unfamiliar food, smell or texture.  Often times she will crawl UNDER the table and shout "It's fake! It's fake!" or she will go to another floor of the house to escape the foreign item.

This is one area that is quite frustrating for parents and caregivers as 1.) you eat 3x a day (and usually more) and 2.) The medical community doesn't address this issue unless a child LOOKS significantly malnourished. (with Autism, children tend to look very healthy but it is only because the foods they will tolerate are unhealthy and cause them to gain weight - this can be just as serious as (starving) undernourishment.  Kids need certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients for proper brain development.)

Feeding is also difficult because so much of our every day world revolves around food! Holidays are all about food (other things too, but food is usually a central theme), birthday parties, classroom parties, summer fun, restaurants, family outings, state fairs, movie theaters, picnics, theme parks, and Vacation Bible School. Take food out of the equation, and things become quite difficult.

Just imagine Thanksgiving day with a child who wants nothing to do with the typical Thanksgiving Day feast!

While the medical community does not offer parents much in the way of hope, the therapy community does. But often the techniques go directly against everything you ever learned about etiquette, manners and in some cases healthy eating.

For example, to boost my daughter's metabolism and help her start to feel hunger (which she does not do naturally), we often give her a snack size candy bar before a meal. This would have been a HUGE no-no for a typical child, but it works for our unique child.  Also, we encourage her to touch her food, blow bubbles through her straw into a drink, chew on ice, play with her food (ever try painting with colored pudding?) and many other typical taboos that usually encompass the label of "good manners." Now, imagine training a child care provider or grandparent on these techniques. Imagine the stares of shock from the parents sitting in the next booth to you in a restaurant.  It can be quite difficult and you must develop thick skin to accommodate all the opinions out there!

We are fortunate that Kylie has an unusual attachment to books. During the time of this story, she had just been introduced to the book Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann and she quickly became hooked.  She took the book with her everywhere and started to declare that Pink was her favorite color.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story of Pinkalicious, the book is about a little girl who LOVES pink. She wears pink and her room is pink. On this particular day, it is raining so her mom suggests they make cupcakes. Pinkalicious tells her mom that she thinks pink cupcakes with pink frosting would be divine! As they are working in the kitchen, Pinkalicious eats a couple of cupcakes and then, when her picky eater brother turns down his cupcake, she eats it for him. After dinner, her parents allow her to eat another cupcake but Pinkalicious still wants more of that fluffy, frosted goodness.  Her dad tells her she has had ENOUGH! The next morning, Pinkalicious wakes up to find that her skin has turned pink! Pinkalicious is thrilled that she looks so beautiful and tells everyone her new name is "Pinkerbelle." After a bath does not wash off the pink, her mom takes her to the doctor where the she is diagnosed with "Pinkititis." Pinkalicious is unfazed and decides her new name is "Pinkerella." The doctor then tells her that for the next week, she can eat NO PINK FOOD and, to return to normal, she must eat a steady diet of green food. That night, Pinkalicious pretended to eat her green food, but when everyone else was asleep, she snuck into the kitchen and ate another delicious pink cupcake.  When she awoke the next morning, she had turned RED! Pinkalicious was horrified! Red was most certainly NOT PINK!  She decided she wanted to be her old self again so she began to eat green foods, many of which she had never tried before. Before long, Pinkalicious was back to her old, wonderful self.
For some reason, Kylie really connected to this book.  As parents, we loved it as it had wonderful illustrations of food (especially various green foods). So, I talked to Kylie's feeding therapist and asked her if she would consider doing something "out of the box" and make our next feeding session a Pinkalicious Party.  We could make a big deal of it through the week and build it up so Kylie would have a level of excitement about it (Kylie really dislikes feeding therapy and asks us hopefully every week if her therapist is out sick). Kylie's therapist, Jenny at Childserve, agreed to the idea and we set to making plans.

On the day of the party, Kylie wore her best pink dress. She also brought her Pinkalicious book and her Pinkalicious doll (which is washable, I might add).

We even invited Daddy to take time off work to come with us to the party!  When daddy arrived, he brought with him pink roses for "Kylie-licious"

We took a quick picture of Kylie with Pinkalicious, her Pinkalicious book and Miss Jenny. Then the party began!

It was amazing to see how Kylie was so willing to try new things. For some reason, having seen them in a book, made them more "safe".
There is a mirror on the wall, and they are looking at themselves eating the green peppers! Yes, I just said GREEN PEPPERS!!
They followed along in the Pinkalicious book...
AND... she liked it!!

Next, they tried watermelon... watermelon was super cool because it had BOTH pink AND green on it!!
She was a little unsure about the texture, but she did it!

They tried strawberries and strawberry ice cream, but THIS food is the one Kylie had been waiting for.  Keep in mind, that Kylie wouldn't even go near cake or frosting before....We are getting ready to try Pink Cupcakes!
Even though they look super yummy, she still is afraid to actually touch them.  So, she uses her tongue instead. This is a coping technique.
She survived!!
 Then, Jenny showed her that you can TOUCH the cupcake (I love the look of awe on her face) ha!
 Kylie decides to try it too.
Touching was too much, so she decided to use her green pepper to dip it into the frosting!

 Hmmm... that's pretty yummy!!

Kylie then looked into the mirror and discovered that her tongue had a pink hue to it, so she declared that she was turning pink and needed to eat some green food!  
It was HER IDEA!!  (Can we say progress??)
They ended the party with drinking pink lemonade from a silly straw.  Kylie LOVES silly straws.
It was such a GREAT and successful therapy day!!

And, yes, I know that mommy isn't featured in any of these photos, but you DO get to experience our world through my eyes! 

There are many other books that you could use for an event such as this to assist with feeding issues.  Here are a few that we enjoy!

These books are very helpful for understanding feeding issues: 

Other Resources: 
My daughter chews on these all the time when she becomes overwhelmed, anxious or just needs deep joint pressure. They are amazing and keep her from chewing on non-edible objects and clothing. There are many scents and styles available...
we use this the Elephant Jiggler all the time, and his ear can double as a spoon!  :0)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Strategies of a YES MOM

The Lord chose to make me wait a decade before he blessed me with a child. During that very long wait, I had a wonderful opportunity to observe parents in various situations as they made the valiant attempt to raise healthy, happy and productive children.

One of the observations that I made was that children don't like the word NO. In fact, they rebel against it and often times a tug of war ensues.  The word NO seemed to inflame an already heated situation.

So, I decided that I was going to be a YES MOM.

What is a YES MOM?
A YES MOM is NOT Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or a Fairy Godmother granting each and every wish and whim their child comes up with; She is NOT a pushover and does NOT agree to every activity or volunteer opportunity.

I'd like to introduce you to the YES MOM and her Strategy:

*A YES MOM sets expectations to avoid a NO situation.
     A YES MOM will clearly communicate what is coming next.  This might be a daily schedule, use of a whiteboard, or a handwritten note.  It might be a verbal communication, or visual communication.  It might even be one task broken down into steps (ie: Brushing Teeth: first we rinse the toothbrush, then we put on toothpaste, then we scrub the top teeth... etc). She always rewards the child for carefully following directions.
*A YES MOM is a problem solver
    A YES MOM helps her child brain storm and think through a possible solution. If her child is missing a book, Instead of saying "NO! I have no idea where you left your book." she might suggest that the last time they had the book was in the family room and then ask her child some investigative questions to prompt their remembrance... She might even give her child a magnifying glass and pretend the child is a Private Investigator and write down clues that get them one step closer to finding the missing item. She then celebrates the discovery with her child.

*A YES MOM Understands "WIFM" (she knows how to bargain)
    Every child wants to know "What's in it for me? If I cooperate, how will this benefit me?" A YES MOM always removes the questions and uncertainty and knows how to point out the benefit of cooperation.  This benefit may not be something physical or reward driven, but could simply be the benefit of the child knowing that they are an important part of the family unit. She might say: "I loved the way you put the silverware in the drawer tonight, It makes Daddy and me so happy when the tools we use are ready and available when we need them. You did a great job.  Your family appreciates you and your contribution"

*A YES MOM is a team player
     A YES MOM involves her children in every day decision making.  She might allow them to plan dinner one night a week, help decide what to purchase or make Grammy for her birthday or have the special privilege of being the grocery shopping helper for the week (which always ends in a small treat).  Shared experiences draw us closer to one another.  If parents are always calling the shots, the children never learn important leadership skills.
*A YES MOM empowers her children
     Sometimes the order of events in a day can be flexible.  A YES MOM knows that this is a great time to allow her child to be in charge and exercise sound decision making skills. She involves her child in the process of making a list of what needs to be accomplished in a certain time frame and then empowers them to decide which order the tasks will be accomplished in.  For example a YES MOM might say: "Sweetie, Can you think of anything that we need to do this morning? (She prompts and suggests helping the child to think of tasks that need to be accomplished such as Eat Breakfast, Take a Bath, Feed the cat, Shop for groceries) She then lets her child decide which task they will complete first.  They keep a visual list and cross things off as they are completed.  A YES MOM always verbally shows appreciation and respect for the way the child handled organizing their time and accomplishing the tasks.

*A YES MOM is open to the ideas of others
     A  YES MOM solicits suggestions and ideas from her children.  She presents the scenario and then asks probing questions of her children as to what their ideas would be in order to resolve the situation. She then tries to implement as many of those suggestions as possible or help the children realize what would be workable or not workable. Children love the trial and error experiment and enjoy seeing their ideas put in motion. This exercise greatly lifts a child's self esteem and helps them exercise problem solving skills

*A YES MOM chooses her battles and uses positive phrasing
     Not everything can be a YES, but there is a way to communicate that elicits cooperation.  A YES MOM might respond:  "You know what? I think it is really great that you would like to read a few more chapters before you feed the dog.  That must be a really good book you are reading.  You absolutely CAN read a few more chapters, but I would like for you to feed Skippy FIRST because he is very hungry and can't sleep when his tummy is growling.  FIRST feed Skippy, THEN read more chapters" (she might even engage her child in conversation about the book while he is feeding the dog.  No one likes to work alone and she might gain valuable information by asking a few probing questions about something that interests her child)

*A YES MOM knows how and when to use the NO word.
     There certainly are times when a YES MOM chooses to use the word NO.  She is very methodical and wise in implementing it, NO doesn't just "escape" her lips in anger or frustration.  The word NO is not a manipulative word for the YES MOM.  The word NO is reserved for situations which are dangerous, urgent, an emergency, or of great conviction and she does not use the word NO lightly.  Her children know that when the YES MOM says the word NO that they need to stop immediately and assess the situation or the surrounding area.  They don't often hear the word NO, so when it is spoken it has power and reverence attached to it. They know that the YES MOM would only use that word if it were critical to do so.

You might think that the YES MOM sounds a little like Super Man with Super YES Powers, so let's look at a real life example:
How does a YES MOM handle the "I want" scenario in the toy aisle of a store? 
*First of all, she would communicate the purpose of the shopping trip: "We are going to the store to purchase Bread, Milk, Cheese and Toilet Paper.

*Then she would give the child the opportunity to be a responsible leader in the shopping trip: "Which items would you like to be responsible for putting in the cart?"
By agreeing ahead of time as to the purpose and duties of each member embarking on the trip,she may avoid the toy aisle all together.

However, if the child suggests the toy aisle, the YES Mom would do her best to use the toy aisle window shopping as a valuable reward incentive.

*She would express appreciation for a job well done.  " I appreciate the helper you have been to me today.  You chose a responsibility and you followed through like a great leader would do. Because you were responsible and kept your word, we absolutely can look at something you would like to look at"
*She would then set expectations and a time limit.  "We absolutely can look at toys for 15 minutes, but we will not be buying today.  When the timer buzzes, it will be time to go to the checkout lane" She then asks for the child's agreement: "Are you ok with that? going to the checkout when the timer buzzes?"  (She waits for their agreement).  When the child agrees, she reinforces "I know you are a child of integrity and you will stick to your word" (and sets a timer for 15 minutes)

*If the child "forgets" and asks for toys, the YES mom would show the child the pre-planned shopping trip and remind them that today's shopping trip was for these items.  I'm sorry, but toys are not on the list for today. HOWEVER....

*She then pulls out a special YES MOM strategy:  She affirms the child. She might say "I can see that you really like that toy.  Would you like to write down the name of that toy and the color you like and we can add that item to your Birthday/Christmas wish list?" She then flips to the next page on her shopping list, offers it to the child with a pencil and allows them to pen the information.
*She then starts working her way toward the checkouts all the time talking with her child about the toy and all the fun ways the child could enjoy it.  Most of the time, by the time a special holiday rolls around the child has moved on to other things and other interests, but by showing interest in what has captured their heart today in the middle of the toy aisle, the child is then cooperative and willing to alter the course of their actions.
*In the unlikely event the child is still uncooperative, there are consequences for the behavior at home (In our home, taking a long break from electronics works wonders! but you choose what is highly motivating for your child).  This is a vital piece to YES MOM success. The next time you attempt to train your child, they will remember that there were unpleasant consequences and be more motivated to cooperate and become a child of integrity.