Inspirational "Potty Talk"

By Christie Griffith, TLC Occupational Therapist

If you come to the TLC Learning Center and happen to use the adult bathrooms during your visit, you might notice that we often have things posted on the backs of the stall doors and/or walls.  A little “potty talk” for your reading enjoyment while you are a captive audience sitting on the throne.   They might be inspirational, humorous, thought provoking, instructional, etc. but most importantly, they change on a weekly or monthly basis to keep your interest and to keep teaching new things.

One item that often makes an appearance here is a copy of the current handout for parents called Skills Sheets by Sandbox Learning (also available at that is a part of our Pyramid Plus Positive Behavior Development program at TLC.  It offers practical suggestions to parents for a variety of topics such as Holiday Social Skill Strategies, Having Guests and Visiting Others, or Teaching Skills for Playing with Others.  Another parent handout that may appear on the walls is from the Backpack Connection Series (from and may include topics such as How to Teach Your Child to Take Turns, How to Help Your Child to Stop Whining, and How to Have Your Child Have a Successful Bedtime.

But “potty talk” is not just for parents.  Sometimes the topics are relevant for staff and other adults who visit.  Brief articles torn from magazines or printed off the internet may offer suggestions for identifying your personality type, ideas for how to slow down and take time to enjoy your life, healthy food choices, or humorous stories to inspire, educate and entertain you for those brief moments of private time in the stall.

“Potty Talk” can also be adapted for children and teens.  Funny pictures or cartoons, schedule reminders of upcoming events, inspirational sayings, or very short stories can be posted for their entertainment.  They may even learn some new things without even realizing it! 

So, I encourage you to incorporate a little “potty talk” into your own life.  It can be useful at work or at home.  If you don’t want to keep putting tape on and pulling it off of your wall consider some alternative ways of posting- hang a small chalk board or cork board on the door or wall nearby, tape or pin up a plastic clear sheet protector for papers that you can slide things into and out of, or use reusable mounting putty to stick things up temporarily. Turns for posting can be rotated through family members or employees to lessen the burden on just one person, if desired.  Ideas for what to post can be found in magazines, newspaper articles, comics, online searches, etc.  Or come on in to the TLC Learning Center and visit our bathrooms for a little inspiration!

And while we’re talking about potties, remember that children do not have to be potty trained to begin preschool at TLC. Teachers work with kids to help them become “potty talk” ready, so they can join in the extra for minutes of learning and inspiration, too!

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July Speech & Language Activities

By Fawn Gold, TLC Speech and Language Pathologist

TLC Speech Therapist Fawn Gold has created a calendar of activities to engage your child in speech and language development this summer. Try any of the activities below to help your child build conversational skills and verbal communication while you enjoy the long days together.

Teaching Versus Testing

By Kirsten Asbury, TLC Teaching Assistant

Often times as teachers we find ourselves asking questions that we already know the answer to, or that a student already knows the answer to. When we ask questions like “What letter is this?” or “How many sides does a triangle have?” or “What day comes after Monday?” we are not actually teaching our students, we are testing them. It is appropriate to ask testing questions when we are actually trying to determine what the child knows. It is important to facilitate the child’s learning by actually teaching them strategies to be successful when they are being tested. 
Constantly being tested can affect a child’s desire to participate in learning opportunities. For example, if you ask a child the name of a certain letter and they get it wrong and you correct them, they have failed. If this pattern continues they may develop coping skills so they will not have to participate in these “testing” activities. They could continue to give the wrong answer even when they know the answer to make peers laugh, they may shut down and stop responding, or they may act out in different ways to avoid these activities all together. 

 TLC preschool students enjoy interacting with their teacher after reading a story together

TLC preschool students enjoy interacting with their teacher after reading a story together

What can we do as teachers to avoid testing students and teaching them instead? The answer seems so simple, just stop asking “testing questions.” It takes a very conscious effort to make sure we are not just testing our students. In the book Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome by Patricia Logan Oelwein there are numerous different strategies and games to help teach children different reading skills. Playing games with your children or students is one of the most effective ways to help teach them. It is important to start at the simplest level of any game to make sure the child feels successful. If an activity or game is too hard for the student, stop, and choose something more appropriate to ensure that the child feels that they accomplished something on their own. Some games that Oelwein suggests to help children reach success in learning are “family bingo,” “letter basketball,” and “letter hunts” around your house or school. 
It is okay for learning to be hard for a child; when it is hard for a child to learn, acknowledge that it is hard! When the child experience success when something is hard that will increase their self-esteem even more! I encourage parents and teachers to really think about what questions they are asking children and avoid just testing them. I know this is something I need to work on, and it takes a very conscious effort but is well worth the rewards experienced by the child who learns and learns to love the process of learning.


Summer Balance Challenge

By Shelly Murphy, TLC Board Member, Mother of Three, Balance Seeker

As my kiddos (and I am sure yours, too) anticipate the unlimited possibilities and freedom that awaits them this summer, I am filled with a mixture of excitement and dread as I look ahead to the coming months.  Summer breaks are often a huge challenge for parents and usually we find ourselves in a panic scheduling our children’s activities and time. This summer, as I plan our schedules, I challenge myself to seek balance. Will you join me in this challenge? I do not mean that for every class, practice, game, therapy session or play date that we schedule for our children that we should schedule one for ourselves. Instead, my hope is that you are able to find some time for yourself; for your growth, your fun, your health. Schedule and find time for yourself like you do for your kids; seek balance.    

You may be asking who am I to be offering such advice?  Am I a therapist or a counselor or have a PhD in family matters? No. Rather, I am a Mom who recently learned that self-care is not an indulgence, but rather a necessity to live a balanced family life. While a vacation on a Caribbean beach sounds nice, the balance I seek is not that grand.   

 If you can, I encourage you to try some of the following activities to bring balance to your days:

  • Take a walk around the block (with the kids if necessary), and enjoy nature and the outside of your house.  

  • Invite a friend to join you for an exercise class or a hike in our beautiful mountains.  

  • Try something new or challenge yourself to do something you have always wanted to do. If you can, schedule a date night, or a girls’ night, or schedule everyone else for a night so you can spend some time alone (and don’t clean or do other chores).  

If we continue to only give and never care for ourselves, at some point we will get depleted. Remember those instructions on the plane that you are to apply your oxygen mask first before you assist others? There is wisdom in that concept. The same applies for us as we care for our children, our parents, our bosses and seemingly all others first.  

If all else fails and you cannot take a break or schedule something for yourself, I hope you can give yourself the gift of being present. Being present does not require any additional resources other than giving yourself permission to fully focus on the moment. Then, in August, when we send our kiddos back to school or the wonderful care (therapy, infant, toddler or preschool) at TLC Learning Center, we will be able to look back on these summer months fondly, just as our kiddos will.

Responsive Language

By Amy Kuessel, TLC Teaching Assistant

Responsive language is a way of speaking with children that uses reason and logic, encourages independence, uses nurturing control, and encourages elaboration. Responsive language helps children develop oral language skills, self-expression, and social-emotional skills related to peer and adult interactions. The opposite of responsive language is restrictive language. Restrictive language asserts power, discourages independence, is controlling, and has a lecturing tone. 

It seems natural to ask children questions to elicit responses, but research shows that asking pointed questions can raise the anxiety of a child and thus limit the complexity of a child's language and response. Questions can be restrictive when a child worries about giving an adult the "right" answer, or about selecting his or her words to stay in the parameters of the question. Responsive language creates opportunities for children to speak freely, using an expanded vocabulary and independent thought. Some suggestions for using responsive language when conversing with a child include:

1) Repeat: Repeating what the child said opens up the conversation and lets them know they are heard, and that the adult is receptive to the child elaborating on his or her statement.

2) Expand: Repeat what the child said and expand on it in your response. This helps guide the child's thoughts down new paths, keeping the conversation open and moving.

3) Self-talk: Use self-talk to teach children how to connect actions with language. In self-talk, a parent or guardian narrates what they are thinking and feeling. For example, "I like strawberries on my cereal," "I am slicing carrots for your lunch."

4) Parallel talk: In parallel talk, the parent or caregiver repeats what the child may be doing, feeling, and thinking to help the child connect language with their actions and feelings. Parallel talk almost always starts with "you," for example, "You are playing with your blocks," or "You are chewing your spaghetti."

5) Modeling: Modeling is another way to maintain a conversation with a child, but this time without using the child's words. This type of responsive language helps a child learn new ways to say things, while guiding them to elaborate on a topic or thought.

Strategies that support children's learning and give and take in conversation help children develop language skills, independent thought, and social-emotional skills. Responsive language is a great and easy strategy to give kids a head start in the development of these positive skills!

The Economic Impact of Non-profit Orgranizations

By Matt Eldred, TLC Executive Director

   Will you make a pledge to support the children and families at TLC learning center and help boost our local economy at the same time?

Will you make a pledge to support the children and families at TLC learning center and help boost our local economy at the same time?

Boulder County Nonprofits make a $254.8 Million Dollar
Impact on  Local Economy

When you support a nonprofit, you are supporting people and animals in need as well as the local economy. CU’s Leeds School of Business conducted a study looking at 53 Boulder County human services nonprofits. These agencies, including TLC Learning Center, directly employed 1,349 people and provided $162.5 million in services.

This in turn yielded $254.8 million in overall economic benefit, including 2,147 jobs and $124.1 million in wages. When looking at the total value added to the GDP by agency operations, these nonprofit human services agencies were responsible for $142 million of the $19.3 billion local economy. Wow!

So when you support TLC through contributions, scholarship grants for low income and at-risk children, you are also supporting the Boulder County economy, as well as all of the directors, teachers, accountants, fundraisers, health care providers, receptionists, cooks, drivers, and more who make nonprofit services possible. Thank you!
Learn more about TLC's impact on children and families in Boulder County.

Tournament of Children's Books, Round 2

Round 1 of TLC's Tournament of Children's Books has been tallied, and the winners are in! Books moving forward include:

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom vs. Goodnight Moon

Judge's commentary: Well Dan, it was a tough battle between Goodnight Moon and The Kissing Hand, with Goodnight Moon just inching into the next round. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, though, swept Cookie's Week under the rug! As one of our teachers said, it's hard to compete with a title as fun to say as "chicka chicka BOOM BOOM!" The kids love it!

"I read The Kissing Hand to my kids before their first day of school every year" - TLC Speech Therapist Trish Iannacito

The Cat in the Hat vs. Where the Wild Things Are

Judge's Commentary: My goodness! Two classics go head-to-head in this bout. Things are going to get "wild" between a wily cat and a wild rumpus. I can't wait to see what happens.

"My mommy read me that story" - Alex, TLC preschooler

Knuffle Bunny vs. If You Give a Pig a Pancake

Judge's Commentary: If I had to pick a clear lead in this competition, Knuffle Bunny is where I'd put my money. The little-stuffed-rabbit-that-could was a consistent kid and staff favorite on almost every bracket; the poor Panda didn't stand a chance in this playoff. Maybe next year he'll focus on his offensive game.

The Rainbow Fish vs. Jamberry

Judge's Commentary: Who would have thought a tiny fish could take down three bears? Even small ones? Too bad for Tacky, being bipedal was't enough to help him take down the jam-loving bear in Jamberry. I heard they settled the winner through a dance-off, and nobody beats the jam party bear in a dance-off. Maybe next year, Tacky!

"Tacky was such a silly penguin!" - Shea, TLC preschooler

We'll see you next week for Round 3! Did your favorite make it through this time? 

"Tiki Tiki Tembo is our true class favorite book!" - Ms. Ashlee's preschool class

Some of the class projects and story quilt squares displayed on the walls at TLC. This week in the Tournament we say farewell to Tacky, the pig, Cookie, and the Hungry Bear.

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Teaching Your Child to Request Attention Politley

By Shari Karmen, TLC Therapeutic Services Manager and Occupational Therapist

title photo.jpg

“Mom! Mom!” (Louder, with a tug now) “Moooommm!”

Have you ever been in this situation while you were talking to someone else? I know I have! Here at TLC, we teach kids how to get attention appropriately. It is a useful, life-long skill that kids, and some adults even, have to learn.
When kids are trying to get attention, they will frequently whine, yell, and throw themselves on the floor. All of this just to get your attention. Eventually, you give in and attend to this inappropriate behavior. The child learns that this behavior gets them what they want. We call this reinforcing negative behavior, and the end result is that the behavior never goes away, but only strengthens.

How can you change a child who uses this negative behavior to get attention? Teach your child how to get your attention appropriately. At TLC, we teach kids to say “tap tap” while they tap you or a friend on the shoulder to get your attention. You can then politely take a break from your conversation to attend to the child. This is an appropriate way for a child to get your attention. To make the skill stick, it needs to be used in all situations with consistency. Appropriate attention-seeking needs to be taught and reinforced at home, school, and out in the community. 

To practice, get down on your child’s level, tap her on the shoulder, get eye contact, and start your conversation. Then practice this over and over in pretend play, on the playground, and at the grandparents’ home. Let your child know that you are happy with how they are getting your attention. You could say, “Wow, I like the way you tapped me on my shoulder to get my attention!” When you see your child having difficulty, you could say, “It looks like you need something. Tap me on the shoulder and I will be happy to help you.”

Teaching this skill now reinforces positive behavior for the long-term. It reduces challenging behavior and helps your child to get their needs met in a constructive way. This, and many other positive behavior support approaches are taught through the Pyramid Plus Approach, a philosophy that we at TLC have adopted. Go to the Teaching Assistance Center for Social Emotional Intervention (TACSEI) for more helpful hints. 

As I’m writing this at my desk at TLC, my little three year old friend Charlotte is sitting next to me and coloring. She just turned to me, said “tap tap” while she touched my shoulder and then showed me the pink flower she was coloring!

 The Pyramid Plus board for parents at tlc. TLC uses pyramid plus to teach positive behavior development, including polite attention seeking

The Pyramid Plus board for parents at tlc. TLC uses pyramid plus to teach positive behavior development, including polite attention seeking

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Tournament of Children's Books

March Madness is upon us, and TLC is celebrating by bracketing our favorite reads of 2015 to determine which book will win it all. Our teachers, therapists, preschoolers, toddlers, and pediatric therapy kiddos will help determine which book wins each bracket. Check back next week to find out who moves on to Round 2! Comment below to tell us your favorite. If you'd like to purchase a book through Amazon, please use Amazon Smile to help support TLC! Find us on Amazon Smile under our full name, The Tiny Tim Center.

Our starting line-up of excellent books:

Cookie's Week by Cindy Ward: This sweet and simple tale of a mischievous kitten's antics through each day of the week will appeal to children and feline fanatics of all ages.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. (Author), John Archambault (Author), Lois Ehlert (Illustrator): In this lively alphabet rhyme, the letters of the alphabet race up the cocunut tree. Will there be enough room? Oh, no - Chicka Chicka Boom! Boom!

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown  (Author), Clement Hurd (Author): In a great green room, tucked away in bed, is a little bunny. "Goodnight room, goodnight moon." And to all the familiar things in the softly lit room -- to the picture of the three little bears sitting on chairs, to the clocks and his socks, to themittens and the kittens, toeverything one by one -- the little bunny says goodnight.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn  (Author), Ruth E. Harper (Illustrator), Nancy M. Leak (Illustrator): School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester's fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary.

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss: Poor Dick and Sally. It's cold and wet and they're stuck in the house with nothing to do . . . until a giant cat in a hat shows up, transforming the dull day into a madcap adventure and almost wrecking the place in the process!

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by  Don Wood  (Author, Illustrator), Audrey Wood  (Author): First published in 1984, a picture book in which the Little Mouse will do all he can to save his strawberry from the Big, Hungry Bear, even if it means sharing it with the reader.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak: Max dons his wolf suit in pursuit of some mischief and gets sent to bed without supper. Fortuitously, a forest grows in his room, allowing his wild rumpus to continue unimpaired. 

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann: It's bedtime at the zoo, and all the animals are going to sleep. Or are they? Who's that short, furry guy with the key in his hand and the mischievous grin?

Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth  (Author), Jon J. Muth  (Illustrator): "Michael," said Karl. "There's a really big bear in the backyard." This is how three children meet Stillwater, a giant panda who moves into the neighborhood and tells amazing tales. 

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems: Trixie, Daddy, and Knuffle Bunny take a trip to the neighborhood Laundromat. But the exciting adventure takes a dramatic turn when Trixie realizes somebunny was left behind!

Curious George by H. A. Rey  (Author), Margret Rey (Author): In this, the original book about the curious monkey, George is taken from the jungle by the man in the yellow hat to live in a new home, but--oh, what happened! Though trying to be good, George is still very curious and takes a swim in the ocean, escapes from jail, and goes for a flying ride on a bunch of balloons.

If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff (Author), Felicia Bond (Illustrator): If you give a pig a pancake, she'll want some syrup to go with it. You'll give her some of your favourite maple syrup, and she'll probably get all sticky, so she'll want to take a bath. She'll ask you for some bubbles. When you give her the bubbles...

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister  (Author), J Alison James  (Translator): A beautiful fish learns to make friends by sharing his most prized possessions.

The Three Bears by Paul Galdone: This familiar nursery tale features a warmly appealing bear family and a naughty, gap-toothed Goldilocks.

Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester  (Author), Lynn Munsinger (Illustrator): Tacky's perfect friends find him annoying until his odd behavior saves the day.

Jamberry by Bruce Degen: A boy is squired through a fantastic world of berries by an endearing, rhyme-spouting bear. Their adventure comes to a razzamatazz finale under a starberry sky.


The winners of Round 1 will be posted next week, so check back! Until then, let us know YOUR favorite book, and why you love it.

View Round 2

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Positive Feedback: Making Deposits in Everyone's "Bank"

by Kathy Keith, TLC Occupational Therapist

Pyramid Plus is a positive behavior development program and a philosophy we embrace at TLC.  Pyramid Plus promotes social-emotional literacy and development in children through teachings and tools that help caregivers recognize and identify a child's feelings, and help children recognize and assess their own feelings. Pyramid Plus also helps caregivers identify challenges during interactions with a child, and then identify solutions for these challenges that the child helps facilitate and implement. Oftentimes at TLC, I watch kids ages 3, 4, and 5 identifying challenges and implementing solutions in a way some adults I come into contact with can not. One former preschooler, Alistair, told his preschool teacher, "I have a solution kit in my mind!" These are the kinds of tools Pyramid Plus gives children to be compassionate problem solvers.

My training in this program has provided me with many “A-ha” moments, and has benefited me both within my therapy practice and at home with my own kids. One thing that has impacted me significantly seems so simple now: the idea of “deposits” and “withdrawals.”  According to Pyramid Plus (and common sense, if I think about it), children need 5 "deposits," or positive comments/interactions with adults, for every "withdrawal." So every time we tell kiddos “don’t,” “stop,” ask questions that require a specific answer (example: “what color is that?”), use a loud voice, make demands, or tell them “no," we are taking withdrawals from their “bank.”  

When a withdrawal is made, we need to deposit 5 positive things (compliments, words of appreciation, non-verbal and verbal praise, active listening) in order to balance the child's "bank."  It is important that these deposits are very specific. “Good job” is positive, but too general.  A general phrase like "good job" could be replaced with:

•    “I like the way you…”
•    “You must be proud of yourself for…”
•    “Tell me what you like best about your creation”
•    “WOW! What a fabulous job you have done of…”
•    “Excellent idea for…”
•    “Give me an EXTRA HUGE high five for…”

Staff here at TLC are working on putting into practice what we preach.  We have a “Positive Piggy” board hanging in the hallway where we can write and display the words of thanks and appreciation that we have for our co-workers and friends.  It has been a fun opportunity to honor the staff for all the work they do everyday.  When you think about it, we could ALL probably use a few more positive deposits, and it's so easy to fill someone's "bank," whether they are a child or a grown-up.