Can’t you just sit still !?!
How many times has your child heard this?
This episode shares a must-have tool for those kids who are in need of movement to support their focus and concentration without creating a ruckus in the classroom. I speak to a mom, Jodi Whalen, who took her child’s need for ‘extra support’ and turned it into a practical must-have tool for kids both in school and at home.
About My Guest:
Jodi Whalen is the creator of the product KINNEBAR – a kinesthetic foot swing that helps children with various learning differences and sensory challenges. Jodi and her husband came up with the idea after watching their own son struggle to get through schoolwork. Jodi took her marketing background and creative ingenuity to help design a product with like-minded engineers. Today KINNEBAR is found in classrooms and homes all around the country and is helping children stay focused and engaged for longer periods of time.
Guest Social Media links
Instagram - @https://www.instagram.com/kinnebar_foot_swing/
Facebook - @https://www.facebook.com/KINNEBAR/
Website - @www.kinnebar.com
Hi, I’m Ashleigh Tolliver, and this podcast is a road map to Parenting That Kid. As a mother to a highly sensitive little boy, I know what it means to parent a child who does not fit into the ‘box’ modern society has put children into. My mission is to help other parents of “that kid” feel less alone, more confident, and more equipped by asking the tough questions to the professionals, gathering tools and resources, and connecting with other moms who are wrestling with the same struggles.
If recording my journey as I seek a clear starting point, community, and effort to normalize a life with a highly emotional, sometimes out of control child, and supports at least one parent, then my time is not wasted. And if it doesn’t well, there’s documented proof that moms deserve a glass of wine.
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Welcome to Parenting that Kid. My name is Ashley Tolliver. As a mom of twins, one being a highly sensitive child who responds to the world in a non traditional and sometimes challenging way. I understand the desire to find the golden answer. Maybe there is no golden answer. But there are resources, tips and tricks we can all use to help us make this uniquely normal parenting journey a little more fun. This podcast is a roadmap to parenting that kid for myself and other parents. If recording my journey as I seek a clear starting point, community and effort to normalize what sometimes feels abnormal, supports at least one parent, then my time is not wasted. And hey, if it doesn't, well, there's documented proof that moms deserve a glass of wine. Cheers.Ashleigh Tolliver:
When I started parenting that kid, I did it because I wanted parents that have resources at their fingertip. Parents of neurodivergent children feel kind of lost, where do you go, and I thought, Gosh, a podcast would be a great place to put all that information. And while it's amazing to have books on your nightstand that tell you what you should be doing or what you possibly could shift or change in your life. Sometimes if you're like me, you're desperate in that moment. And all you want is a tool to help you when you're deep in the trenches. That's where today's episode comes in. It's for the parent who is deep in the trenches. And yes, you could be eating the right foods and having the correct schedule. But what are you doing in those moments when it's so hard for your child to find their balance? How about at school when they're struggling to focus, concentrate, sit still, those are the moments you actually need tools in your hands. And that's what today is today's episode telling you about an amazing tool from a mama who's walking the same path you and I are she she has had the phone calls been into the office watched her child struggle. She turned that though into something that 1000s of other parents are able to use now, a tool that can go under the desk under the kitchen table, or even in school for the child to help support them to help them move because moving does help their focus. But do it in a constructive way. The kinder bar is a great way to help support your child when they are in the trenches, needing to have their whole body active in order to absorb what's coming out of them or what they're putting out. After you listen to this episode, go ahead and click on the show notes to get directly over to the kinnebar website and see this tool in action. I can guarantee you, this is one of those tools that your next your neighbor's child is going to be begging to have because they too want to have the support that your child is going to get.Ashleigh Tolliver:
All right. JD, thank you so much for joining me today, I want to jump right in for all the audience to hear. Because I think there's a connection with each guest I have if they give us a real life story on who you are or like the background of you. So can you just share a moment, or maybe the time and age period when your child actions behaviors or maybe even just a reaction to something was really clear and difficult and you felt stressed, exhausted and pushed to your edge that then led to where you are and who you are and what you're doing today.Jodi Whalen:
It was, I think definitely the first screen as any of my son started bringing him to work. I think the teacher intended intended it to take about 15 to 20 minutes per day. And I remember it just taking so much longer. He couldn't sit for long periods. And he couldn't stay focused on what we were doing. It was hard to just get through it. I tried different tactics like standing doing jumping jacks in between tasks. Playing outside your hand, we tried having a snack first. I mean, it was it was a struggle. But honestly, I didn't understand enough about her diagnosis, and what was happening in his own body and brain. So at the time, I was just trying things that that I thought made sense. I mean, gosh, if I attack you to go back and be empowered by what I know, today, I could have made it life a lot easier for all of us. And that's why I'm so happy to talk to you today because I want to share what I know with other parents that might be struggling with their kids.Ashleigh Tolliver:
Yeah, absolutely. Well, that sounds like something I hear probably once or twice a week that they're just struggling with after school because they see it but then of course the teachers see it as well. And there's got to be some some kind of answer. And it doesn't have to be the perfect answer but a little bit of help to help with that focus. And that that precise moment that they need attention to just really come into themselves so they can do whatever needs to be done or whatever needs to be met. All right, so can you share who you are and you just said diagnosis. So what do you do, who your child is maybe what your child's diagnosis is?Jodi Whalen:
Yep, sure. My name is Jodi and I have two very young boys, ages 11 and seven. And I actually created a children's product out of necessity. To help one of my boys with schoolwork, he was diagnosed with ADHD at age four. And then a few years later, I learned that we also have sensory processing disorder. So once he started elementary school, it was pretty obvious that sitting still for long periods of time was going to be a challenge for him. One of the things I observed over the years is that one minute he was really hyper, and then the next he could sit down and do Legos for hours. And I hear a lot of parents say this. So of course, doing things like schoolwork was hard for him because it didn't really enjoy doing it. He couldn't focus or sit still long enough to get through it. But if he got a new Lego set, gosh, he finished it before downtime, because, you know, he was in that hyper focus mode on and it was pretty awesome to watch. Like that. I could I could tell. He was incredibly smart. He's super inquisitive. And he asked such interesting questions on the team. He had two great kids. But you know, we all have these these challenges that that they're faced with?Ashleigh Tolliver:
Yeah. So how you said he was four years old when he was diagnosed? Yeah, yeah. Very young. And so when? How old? Is he when he created your product? And then can you share a little bit about what your product is? And I haven't mentioned it, but I, that's what I want to dive deep into. And then How old was he? And then is that a good age to really start using your product? Or is there a certain age?Jodi Whalen:
Sure. He was in second grade, when I just really felt like, we needed to try something. It was kind of an interesting story. So one night, we were sitting at our kitchen table, and we were doing homework. And he was something was different in him because like I said, he was always moving and getting up and, and he was sitting so calmly, he was focused and writing beautifully. And, and I don't know why. But I grabbed my cell phone, and I took a video of him. And as I leaned back in my chair to record him, I saw his feet swinging, like mad underneath the kitchen table. And I thought, I wonder if this, you know, is helping him. So that night I went online, I did some research and I realized that he is a kinesthetic learner, which means he needs things like visuals and physical movement to to help him learn better. So we actually bought a few products and nothing seemed to help him or fit his current workstation in school. So my husband and I actually went out to our garage, and we tried making things that would recreate that swinging movement. And we pulled together stuff we had like rope, plastic, metal balls, we brought a few prototypes into his classroom. And after a week, I asked his teacher, how's it going, and she goes, Oh, my gosh, God, he swings his let his feet all day long. And then the other kids, when I would go into volunteer, they begged me and they'd say, Can you make me a swing as well. And then another teacher across the hall said, she had a student that needed one. And that's when we realized we should look into taking this a step further. So we didn't really set out to make this foot swing, but it just organically happened. Then after that, we just did a ton of research and on kinesthetic tools and movement, and we spoke to a patent lawyer, and they had to figure out how to make it. And it was a ton of work and really excited. But it took about two and a half years of product development. We thought we had something very safe, quiet and durable, which were our top three criteria. And so we went into production. And I stopped my existing job, I own my own business. And I started connecting with parents and teachers online and really saw a huge pay for knowing market and so Kinvaras full time.Ashleigh Tolliver:
That's so cool. I love hearing that. It's from your heart from your story. You didn't just create a product, you have an attachment to this product because you have an attachment to your child of course, and that's, that's what I love about the show and I'm trying to fly moms who been there done that and they have found answers that they can share with other moms. You mentioned you tried other tools do you have Did he go through as a hodgepodge of therapies and different books and diets and sensory toys that I feel like every mom go through?Jodi Whalen:
Exactly. We we pretty much tried everything under the sun. I'll tell you quickly I hired a holistic nutritionist. We did a gluten free diet, high protein, reduced sugar, we stayed away from food coloring as much as possible. We did occupational therapy, music therapy, we tried kinesthetic tools. We did something called neurofeedback, which was absolutely amazing and very successful. There there's a lot of benefits to it. The bad side about it is it's expensive. But I have to say if there's a parent out there that is kind of doesn't want to go the excuse me the drug route then I think That's a really amazing option. And some places even take insurance for it. But one of the one of the biggest things that I walked away with over the years and, and learning how to manage ADHD in our home is that it's really a 360 degree approach. So you might need all those things that, that we've all tried. You can't expect one thing to fix it. And I think I was starting out in that mode. And I just thought, Well, I'm gonna try this Oh, shoot, it's not working, you know, and I'm gonna try this. And, man, that's not working either. And it's, that's when I just kind of realized, like, you've got to have all the pieces of the puzzle to kind of balance that child out. And, and that might even take you know, all those the exercise the diet, the naive and take ADHD medication. You know, you just you just have to try different things. And every kid's different. And, you know, and routine routine is critical for them. So you figure it out, it takes some time. But,Ashleigh Tolliver:
yeah, well, you created a puzzle piece, I should say to this huge puzzle of our children that and I, I'm on. I agree with that when we have so many different pieces that we have to put together in order to have the day functioning smoothly for the whole family, not just our child. So you're the Kim the kinesthetic toy is kind of where this falls under are the kinesthetic tools, I should say because there are sensory tools, kinesthetic tools, they're all over the place. There's tools for everything, I think, who can benefit from this, is this just do you make just children? Bars? Is this really for adults, too? Can we put them on our desks at work? Or is this primarily for little or? No, no, it'sJodi Whalen:
it can actually really help any child to high energy. But particularly those it's obviously helpful for kids with ADHD, autism, Asperger's, and because a lot of them are dealing with sensory processing disorder as well. I think children and adults have a hard time these days with getting distracted. I think we all have shortened attention spans. And we actually sell them to adults now because people were commenting on our social media pages that they wanted one for work. So we expanded like some colors, different colors, like we have black now. And we have one that's like a natural wood tone. Because one mom said, I'm not putting a red one in my kitchen. And I was like, Okay, you will call our next production run. And actually, occupational therapists and speech therapists use them as part of their therapy sessions I had one speech therapist told me that she could not get this little boy to do the work that she needed him to do. And so she purchased one. And she said that it did wonders for her therapy session. So that was, that was awesome. That was great to hear. Because we kind of like set out for this one specific need for kids with ADHD. And then all of a sudden, like, you know, people are telling us, oh, my gosh, I can use it for this, I can use it for that. So it's really rewarding for us to see how how many people it really can help.Ashleigh Tolliver:
Absolutely. And so it can go under the desk at school under the table at dinner time, or the desk at home, when you're doing homework, it's kind of are there different measurements or different sizes so that people really can customize as to what fits their lifestyle,Jodi Whalen:
there's actually two models that we have. One is the executable or 100. And that has a smaller footprint and needs to be attached to the legs of a desk or a small table and Cannavaro. 200 is a bigger footprint. And that's made to be freestanding. So you could literally just sit in a chair, put that underneath you. It's better for use under like a larger table, I can help kindergarteners, they have smaller tables, the 100 might be better for them. But you know, the upper grades, their tables get larger, and they have more space underneath. So the 200 is better. You know, the only thing we had to add on was some, some straps and some suction cups. And it was it was really just sort of figuring it all out. But we didn't intend to make two we actually only wanted to do like a one size fits all. But once my husband and I went to all these different schools, and we were measuring the desks and the sizes of calipers and things and we were like, No, this isn't gonna work. We got to make it we got to continue. So again, you know, it was just just kept rolling along and changing for us. But it kept things exciting. So yeah, I'mAshleigh Tolliver:
thinking of my my children, they're in kinder, and their tables are so tiny. I don't know how the teachers get up and down all day and that I don't, I feel like you need like a little miniature one to put under their chairs. And then as they get bigger, they have to grow with it or get a new one to grow. But it sounds like they're pretty durable. So once the kid gets their foot on it literally, they aren't playing God for a while. That's wonderful.Jodi Whalen:
And there's actually so there's two components to it and we add we added the second part because we found that our son needed sensory input so There's two functions to it, there's a metal swing there, they can swing your feet back and forth. And then that's an that has adjustable holes, and then there's a rubber foot band that goes across the back. And so they can kind of stretch their legs out. And if they just want to bounce up and down, then they can do that, too, and was really neat, because, you know, we know kids get bored, right, and so they're in school there. For me, it's like, approximately about roughly four hours a day that kids are sitting still. And so to have those two different options, were really good. And the other thing that we thought was really important that we found out of our own experience was, you know, bouncy balls are, you know, a lot of teachers and parents have tried them. And I think they definitely have a purpose, I think they're great for brain breaks. But when you actually have to have the child sit, and write, that's where the ball in these wobbly seats aren't the best, you know, for for these type of kids, maybe kids with dysgraphia, or, or other things that they're trying to manage, you know, because now their, their whole upper body is moving. So that Kinder bar and mobilizes that upper torso, and so it's the legs that are really moving and nothing else.Ashleigh Tolliver:
Oh, I like that. So they're able to sit still enough to do the work, their whole body isn't in this fluid motion, it's just their legs going back and forth, or up and down, I guess if they're on theJodi Whalen:
right, and it's just an addition to, you know, to their, their the seat and the depths that they you know, that they already have. And some people actually, you know, some of the teachers or parents, I guess were concerned, you know, when they do unfortunately this day and age or kids have to do lockdown drills and you know, they can sit underneath their desk or out in California had a teacher ask, Will how will this work when we're practicing for earthquakes can childcare underneath the desk? Yes, they can. Because the the bar just pushes right out of the way and it really doesn't honestly take up that much more space than kind of what's already under there. So So all things we had to think about.Ashleigh Tolliver:
Yes, you have. So you mentioned scenery. Yeah, you're thinking everything even mentioned sensory. So as the material then is it okay for children who have a sensory to touch texture?Jodi Whalen:
What's really that for the feet, that's for the seats. So it's, you know, generally kids are in school and they have shoes on. So it is made out of a latex rubber. So if anyone has an allergy to that, we kind of know that but again, they are really need to kind of have your shoes on I guess at that point in time. You could be home and that's fine, too. But yeah, it's it's, it's down there under their feet. So MX legs? No, not at all. And,Ashleigh Tolliver:
yeah, so Alright, so can you give me some examples of results you've seen personally with your little guy who created this, I guess. He didn't create it, you created a base off of him. And then and our friends and the teachers what they're saying to you, I love to hear positive outcomes of things.Jodi Whalen:
I gotta tell you, he's, he's in fifth grade now. And he asked for it from time to time. Like, he just he's like, I'm gonna I'm gonna sit at the candy bar he likes to. He does different things. He stands in a bar, we have one underneath our kitchen table. I wondered, it's my desk. I'm really so pleased. We have had such wonderful feedback from parents, teachers and therapists so far it you know, they tell us and we knew this, but it helps keep the children in their seat longer, the minute they sit down, they put their feet on it and automatically use it without even thinking they can help increase focus and keep them on task a lot longer. One teacher told me she had an autistic child and she could never get him to, to sit down. And so she put, you know, she had the iPad in front of him one day, and they were using an app and, and he sat in his chair much, much longer working on his app, because his feet, were able to to move underneath the desk. And that just that just warmed my heart. I just loved hearing that. And it provides the child with a way to self regulate. Great because they don't they don't even know that they're doing it. You know, they just think it's kind of fun. So not only does it help the student, but it helps the teacher as well. They actually spend less time redirecting those children that would normally need it. Right. So yeah,Ashleigh Tolliver:
I can imagine. Yeah. So where can people find this product? This is it's so exciting to hear about it. Where did they come in and locate it fromJodi Whalen:
you? They can we sell it on our website, which is www.cinnabar.com. And that's k i n n e AR. And so, yeah, there's a lot of videos, you can go and see what kind of material it's made out of tutorials and how to put it together. If anybody has any questions, I'm the one I'm sitting here answering all of them so they'll get me on the other end. The end, you know, and happy to answer any questions. But we hope we build out the site enough that it's, you know, it's got a lot of good information on it. SoAshleigh Tolliver:
wonderful. Perfect. All right, so the last question I asked every guest because you are a mama to a little one who has some extra attention needed? Do you need tips or advice for parents who are also going down this path three, just things that you think, wow, that worked, or that didn't work? Or tried this? And I really think other parents should hear about?Jodi Whalen:
Sure. I mean, I wish I had an hour for this one, but But I sure do, and I would love to share them. And I would say, You know what, number one don't have too many options for your kids. No matter what it is, whether you're talking about dinner, clothes, shoes, toys on, I'm actually what we do in our home is we store toys in plastic bins and kind of make it a fun day and we rotate them out of the room every six to nine months, I'll just throw them in a closet somewhere and, and they just have less options. And it's not as messy. So we don't fight over that. And I find when my kids have fewer options, it's easier to make decisions. And it also empowers them to decide things for themselves. Number two, I would say routine, our key. In the morning, we usually have everything in order. And one of my favorite things that I did. And I just shared this with a group of other parents last week is I put all of my kids toiletries in one drawer in our kitchen. So the toothbrush, the toothpaste, the hairbrush, deodorant, etc, everything that they need to do that they would have normally gone upstairs and gotten distracted with, you know, started doing something else. And keep that in the drawer in our kitchen. And it it's been a game changer. Like it just gets us going. And I'll say, you know, tonight, what you have to do next, what do you have to do next, so that, you know, I'm not telling them what to do. They're just it's sort of prompting them to get things done. I think positive reinforcement rewards always work and whatever that means to your family. But I let my kids have free time before school. So they get to ride their bike, kick a soccer ball, it's really something very simple that they can, you know, easily stop playing like I wouldn't have them put rollerblades on or something, you know what I mean? Like some of that they could just hop off and we can get in the car. And so as long as they do everything they're supposed to do, and they have their backpack garage, and we're ready to go, then they can play outside. And I find it helps to fold it getting ready faster, and stay on task. And because they want to get out and play. And then they're getting some really healthy exercise before school, which I think helps a lot. And if you don't mind, I want to share one Yeah. But I think this is important, I think it's really important to build up their self esteem. As a parent, it's so easy to get frustrated, right? We're dealing with all kinds of things and, and you can get frustrated so easily. And when your kids don't do things, like the way we would like picking up their clothes or making your bed. I'm really trying to work hard at picking and choosing my battles these days. I mean, you have to think about it, them in their world, right? At school, they have, you know, they're struggling all day to focus. And they may have multiple teachers telling them things like, you know, sit still Hurry up, stay focus, stop doing that. And they don't, the children, they don't want to be the last one working on something, they don't want to be corrected all day, it takes a toll on them. It makes them really feel bad about themselves. So as a parent, I just I just say things, and I do things differently. I think it's really cool to see their reaction when you start praising them for the things that they did do, right? Like picking out there close the night before doing something nice for their sibling or a friend or remembering to bring home that book you ask them and I think that's really important. They feel good about themselves and and we point out the things, the positive things that they did do.Ashleigh Tolliver:
I love that. That's true. That's so good. Yes, absolutely. Those are really good tips. I'm glad you shared for.Jodi Whalen:
Thank you. Thank you.Ashleigh Tolliver:
Thank you so much for sharing. I am thrilled to learn more about this product because I kind of have been spying on you for a while now. And I can't wait to see it take off. I really as a mama with a little boy who has sensory processing disorder and a daughter who has ADHD. We are a very busy moving house. We are always trying to find puzzle pieces as well. And I know that what you have to offer is really good for a lot of families also on the same course. So thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me a little bit more about it.Jodi Whalen:
Thank you. It's really been a pleasure talking with you and sharing everything that I've learned because I know I know it's hard there's a lot of parents out there they they might you know, their child could be newly diagnosed They are in a world when they don't know. So I think it's parents like you and I that do the things that we do and share our stories. And, you know, it could skip a lot of steps for some parents. So thanks for having me. I really, really appreciate it.Ashleigh Tolliver: