How did Bobby’s parents manage?

This summer while on a trip back to my childhood community, I visited a cousin who is now 90+ and living in a care facility. Eloise and I took a walk through the hallways and I was surprised to run into Bobby who is also a resident.

Bobby is the brother of one of my high school classmates. His family lived on a farm near ours, went to the same church, and was just always a part of the usual activities in the community. So, why do I mention Bobby? Well, it’s because Bobby has special health and behavioral needs. As a child and teenager, I didn’t think too much about Bobby – he was just Bobby and everyone helped take care of him. But as an adult, I look back and think, “How did his parents manage? How did they take care of Bobby and his brothers as well as give time to their marriage and personal lives?”

My guess is that while Bobby’s parents had their ups and downs, they took care of themselves. Providing care for a child with special health and behavioral needs means that the parents/caregivers are in it for the long haul. The caregivers must take care of themselves first so that they can take of their child.

Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a program for caregivers of children with special health and behavioral needs. Caring for a child with special needs changes parents’ lives. In this program parents learn tools to manage self-care. Here’s an example of one tool – taking action with stress reducers.

Participants in the classes learn to identify their personal warning signs and sources of stress. Then they think about what they have done to successfully reduce stress. People share things like: walk, visit a friend, listen to music, read, not try to do everything, play a sport, etc. Stress reducers are personal and what suits one person may not suit another.

The important point is to find ways to reduce stress – something that is enjoyable and works for you. Even little things can make a big difference for parents. As I remember, Bobby’s parents found ways to reduce stress. They were a part of church activities, Bobby’s dad played horseshoes with the neighborhood men, and Bobby’s mom tended pretty flowers in their yard.

If you’re interested in learning more tools to help you thrive as a caregiver of a child with special health and behavioral needs, check out Powerful Tools for Caregivers classes in your area.

 

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Classroom Strategies to Support Special Needs Children

iStock_000005759838Small[1]Downs_1 copyThe beginning of the new school year can be an anxious time for parents of a child with special needs. Parents may worry about whether their child will be accepted into a new classroom. They may also worry about their child’s classmates and the teacher that is assigned. The school year is a long time, so every child deserves an environment that is suitable for learning and growing.
All children have the need for belonging, and yet, for children with special needs, they can often be left out by their classmates or left behind in their classroom studies. Having a learning disability doesn’t mean a child cannot learn, it simply means, the approach a teacher takes must be intentional so that the child CAN learn.

A few strategies that can make a big difference in the classroom include:

  • limiting distractions – teachers who are organized ahead of time, who can limit the number of interruptions or distractions can help a child stay focused on the learning.
  • breakdown instructions – teachers who will keep instructions short and who will repeat the instructions help students who need that reinforcement.
  • devise opportunities for students success. It may not seem important, but when students with special needs experience success in the classroom, it creates excitement that will reinforce their desire to try again! It is the support of the teacher, acknowledging student success that can make all the difference.

So parents, as school draws near, advocate for your child and watch your student succeed!

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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The Stress of Special Needs

iStock_000005759838Small[1]Downs_1 copyThe demands of parenting often are multiplied for parents of children with special health and behavioral needs. However, these parents will be better able to provide care for their children if they also take care of themselves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 15 percent of U.S. families have a chronically ill child with special health needs. The extra demands cause stress that affects the whole family.

Caring for a child with special needs can require additional time, which can mean you have less time for your other children, your spouse or aging parents, who also need your attention. Maybe you’ve been criticized or judged by others who simply do not understand your child’s condition. You may feel isolated from other parents, because how could people who don’t have a child with special needs possibly know what you are going through?  Parents often are trying to learn about their child’s disability and find treatments and resources. They’re coping with the emotional and physical challenges of providing care as they coordinate healthcare treatments, advocate for their child and pay for necessary services. No wonder parents of children with special needs often are exhausted and even depressed,

Join us this month as we self-care tips and resources that can help parents cope. We will discuss ways that family members can support each other and we’ll also talk about when and how to reach out for assistance. In addition we will explore resources for reducing stress that are available through ISU Extension and Outreach.

August 2016

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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At Home with Nature

Children running on meadow at sunset

My childhood memories of nature include holding soft baby kitties, bicycling on the dusty gravel road, watching ants in the grass, hanging upside down in the swing in the big oak tree, collecting rocks, and digging tunnels in snow drifts. What are your favorite outdoor memories? Did you know that those experiences, in an unstructured, extended time frame, form the foundation of curiosity, learning and development of empathy? Scooping and dumping sand, making mud pies and stacking wood scraps were how you might have begun to learn physics and mathematics? Climbing a tree, running on uneven ground and carrying branches help a child develop body awareness, strength and visual spatial skills. Want your kid to be able to parallel park when he learns to drive? Give him outdoor experiences manipulating large natural materials and chances are he’ll be at the head of his driver’s ed – or graphic design – class. Kids also learn to manage risk and problem solve when they have early experiences in natural settings. Pokémon Go the virtual reality game may be a way to get kids outdoors, however unless they pay attention to the surroundings and explore those spaces, it does not substitute for actual experience with nature. Geocaching is another way for families to explore the out of doors.

I’ve been a certified Nature Explore trainer since 2009.  Thousands of Iowa early childhood professionals – teachers, child care providers, naturalists, parks and rec staff and parents – have learned to use tested design principles to help children connect to nature. Imagine my joy when I was invited to participate in a research project on Nature Explore backyards in Iowa City.  It was magical to watch  families embrace the concepts and open their backyards to transformation.  My memory of watching a toddler explore sound in his family’s new outdoor ‘classroom’ sustains me whenever I do a design consultation or teach a workshop. Excerpts from that research are in the book At Home with Nature.

My own backyard contains the Nature Explore principles and I’m having fun seeing how they will change over time as my 16 month old granddaughter grows up. Watching her pick and eat berries for the first time, check out the wren’s nest and sing back to the momma and papa birds, stack river stones, fill a pail with pinecones, turn sea shells over and over in her tiny hands and swing in the mosquito netting hammock all fill my heart with gratitude and hope for her future.

How do you help your kids connect to nature?

Kristi Cooper

Kristi Cooper

Kristi’s expertise in caregiving, mind body skills and nature education inspires her messages about healthy people and environments with parents, professionals, and community leaders.

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How About a Pizza Garden?

girl gardeningDid you know that according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, the average American child spends 44 hours per week staring at some sort of electronic screen? Limiting screen time is a great idea, but having an alternate activity to take its place is essential. Consider getting kids up and outdoors, and into the garden.

Families can plant a variety of gardens including vegetable; container, butterfly; flower; or herb garden to name a few. School gardens are popular and children who have some experience at home, with planting seeds, or watering and weeding a garden can return to school with skills that will be an asset to their school garden.

Have you seen a “pizza garden”? Why not plan for a pizza garden that would include planting many of the yummy ingredients on a pizza, including peppers; spinach; basil, tomatoes, onions, and more! Check out this resource for a healthy pizza garden:

Pizza Garden

Check out the Spend Smart Eat Smart website for a variety of recipes that use fresh vegetables. Sometimes all we need is a new recipe and some bounty from the garden, to prove we can cook and eat healthy and enjoy the garden as a family.

Link to Spend Smart Eat Smart

 

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Dirt and Kids Go Hand in Hand

Beautiful child with sunflower in spring fieldConfession. I am not a gardener. Well, I’m not a vegetable gardener. I can grow a mean hibiscus and a lovely tulips but vegetables stump me. Its not that I don’t day dream about growing a bountiful garden, I just haven’t quite figured out how to get started. So in an effort to set the stage for the rest of the month I want to first say, “you don’t have to do it all”.

If you had a chance to listen to the podcast you heard about all the great things that children learn from gardening. Truth be told, they can also learn many of those things while caring for flowers and house plants as well. So before you say, “This month isnt’ for me”, consider the live plants that you may already have. Consider the flowers you may currently be watering. Substitute them for the gardening ideas (except for the eating part).

Share with your children how to keep they happy and healthy. Teach them how to put them in sunlight or shade. Ask them questions as you thin, separate and re-pot them. Tell them about the benefits of growing green plants in an indoor environment as well as outdoor. And most importantly don’t give up on the the fact that you really are a gardener. I haven’t.

Let us know about your green thumb.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Children and Gardening

Want kids to eat their vegetables and do better in school? Get them involved in gardening. Research has shown that children who have the opportunity to plan, plant and harvest are more likely to eat vegetables and to continue eating vegetables throughout their life time. Gardening also can help children apply concepts learned in school. For example, writing and journaling are important garden skills, and math and measurements are necessary for garden design. If you and your family can have your own garden, that’s great; but there are other ways to get kids interested in gardening.

  • Head to the public library, because books are a great way to start the conversation, Hayungs said. “A book about vegetables can get you talking about your child’s favorites. Talk about the colors, feel and taste of veggies.”
  • Visit a farmers market or grocery store and talk about new or unusual vegetables on display.
  • Explore the nutrition and growing facts about different vegetables. Then make a list of favorites and begin to think about a garden growing plan.

 

Learn more from tips in the podcast below and share your thoughts and experiences with us.

 

Podcast script July 2016

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Food decisions for picky eaters

This week we welcome guest blogger Renee Sweers.Renee is a mother of 4, grandmother of 3, a registered dietitian, and a Human Sciences Specialist in Nutrition and Wellness.

When my eight-year-old daughter said, “Please pass the melon.”  I nearly fell out of my chair! This was the girl that didn’t eat fruit, other than apples and plums!  I wouldn’t call her a picky eater, but when it came to fruit, she was.  Not only did she eat cantaloupe at that meal, but she slowly added more fruits to her diet and as an adult eats many different fruits.

I tell this incident for a few reasons:  1) Don’t stop offering foods just because a child doesn’t think they like them; you never know when they might give them a try.  Research tells us children may need to be offered a food 10 – 15 time before they will try it. 2)  Don’t bargain with children about eating.  If we had been forcing her to try melon over the years she may not have been willing to start eating it at age eight.  3)  Take heart!  A child who is picky may grow up to eat a wide variety of foods as an adult.

According to Ellyn Satter, a dietitian, family therapist and expert in feeding children, both adults and children have certain ‘responsibilities’ or ‘decisions’ when it comes to food.

Adult Decisions:

-What a child should eat:  Offer a variety of foods from all five food groups of MyPlate every day.  Be sure to offer at least one food at every meal that the child likes

-When and Where a child should eat:  Offer meals at regular times each day.  Offer snacks equally spaced between meals.  Eat with the child at a table and turn off the TV and other distractions.

Child Decisions:

-How much to eat and which foods to eat. Don’t bribe a child to eat.  Don’t require one bite.  Respect them when they say they are full.

-Whether or not to eat.  Occasionally a child doesn’t want to eat.  It is fine to require them to ‘sit at the table with the family’, just don’t force them to eat.

When children are allowed to make their eating decisions and adults focus on their decisions (and not the child’s) then adults are providing structure, support and opportunities for healthy eating.  Children are allowed to choose what and how much to eat from the foods the adult has provided.

Try these strategies to make mealtimes more fun and less struggle.

 

 

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Helping picky eaters appreciate the food process

Each new day, provides the opportunity for family mealtime! Whether it is breakfast, lunch, or supper, offering foods that are both nutritious and pleasing to your family is an important goal. Often younger children have different tastes in foods than their parents. What sounds like a good menu to an adult may be greeted with groans by children. Described often as “picky eaters”, children can slowly learn to appreciate a variety of foods given time, and an opportunity to try them in small amounts.

Taking children to the grocery store and letting them help select fruits and vegetables may be the first step in introducing a new food. Maybe your family has a garden, letting children help plant the seeds, and water the garden, will make them curious about the growing season and filled with excitement about the harvest.

Summer time is a great time to work together alongside your child in the kitchen with meal time preparation. Children, depending on their age and ability, can wash vegetables under water, can help chop simple vegetables, and can help arrange food for the evening meal.

Don’t worry about your picky eater, find a way to engage them in the kitchen and enjoy the experiences you are making together.

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Dealing with Picky Eaters

Many parents worry about what their children eat — and don’t eat. However, when parents and children engage in mealtime battles, nobody wins. Instead, parents should focus on preventing power struggles over food. The reality is that most kids get plenty of variety and nutrition in their diet, even if they don’t want to eat particular foods. But if you’re concerned about your child’s eating habits, talk to your health care provider who can help you review your child’s growth. Start a ‘food log’ and keep track of the types and amounts of food your child eats and share that information with your healthcare provider as well.

Join us in June as we blog about how to make mealtime fun rather than a power struggle.

Your child’s eating habits won’t change overnight, but the small steps you take each day can help promote a lifetime of healthy eating.

 

 

The Science of Parenting from ISU Extension and Outreach also is available on Twitter and via text message.

 

dealing with pick eaters script

 

 

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Financial Lessons for Kids

Science of Parenting live interview with Quad Cities television station.  Click here

 

 

 

Janet Smith

Janet Smith

Janet Smith is a Human Science Specialist-Family LIfe with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She currently provides family life programming in eight counties in southeast Iowa. Janet is a "parenting survivor". She is the mother of Jared-21, Hannah-20, and Cole-15. She and her husband, David have faced many challenges together, including their son Jared's Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy diagnosis.

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Money and Goals

Do you remember taking an economics class in school? What did you think about that class? Some will remember becoming dizzy by the numbers, others may have thought it was boring, and others may have been astounded by the technical aspect of all the numbers! Having a basic understanding of economics helps to guide our use of money throughout life!

 

Families who talk openly about setting financial goals including saving and budgeting, set a good example for their children to follow. When prices increase families have to have a spending plan that will meet their income and pay the bills! For many families, these discussions are difficult because we want to protect kids from the worry of adult family financial pressure. Opening the doors of communication can help the children realize why requests for new toys, or game systems come with the word “NO” more frequently than we like.

 

Helping children to understand that money is earned through hard work and that putting extra money away through a savings plan is one way to work toward earning a new game or toy!   For many of us MONEY is an emotional issue, and those emotions affect spending decisions people make. As parents, our job is to help children explore their personal feelings and attitudes about money. When confronted with the difference between “needs” and “wants”, and knowledge about the most current balance in the checkbook, even children can make decisions about spending or saving!

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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The Tall Tale of a Bank Robbery…

Guest blogger, Carol Ehlers shares insight with us on talking about money with children.

There we were at the bank, my 5 year old daughter and I, on a Saturday morning watching 40 pounds of coins be counted.  It was our daughter’s Christmas gift from grandparents’ year-long effort of saving coins.  I thought what a great teaching opportunity and ‘money adventure.’

When the bank clerk handed her the light-weight small bank envelope containing cash the emotion on her face showed deep concern.  By the time we got to the car there were tears and a demand that her money be returned. She was convinced that what was in the envelope did not equal her bucket of money and she had been robbed. That was over 10 years ago and the memory as well as this family ‘money story’ lives on.

Children get their first lesson on money management from the adults around them. By the age of three, children already have a good idea about how you feel about money. How you talk about it and handle it tells them a lot about how to approach money.

Children and Money

Children are not born with “money sense.” They learn about money by what they see, hear and experience. As they grow, children constantly are watching, listening and learning about money. How much does ice cream cost? Can I buy a new book or toy with my money?

As a parent, relative or other adult important in the life of a child, you are teaching the children you come into contact with about money. What would you really like them to be learning?

A great resource the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Money As You Grow provides age-based activities and conversation starters to help your children develop money skills, habits, and attitudes that can serve them well as parents.

Remember:

  • You cannot not teach your children. They are learning from you whether you actively attempt to teach them or not.
  • One of the most important lessons you can teach children is positive money management.

Whether we as parents and caregivers realize it or not, children’s attitudes and values regarding money are influenced by how the adults in their world spend, borrow, save, share, invest and protect themselves with money.

Source: Talking to Children about Money

Carol Ehlers is an ISU Human Science Extension and Outreach Family Finance specialist working to empower consumers to take control over their economic lives. 

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Talk to Kids About Money

Happy boy with raised arms

Many parents think they can hide financial stress from their children, but the kids always know – and they’re worried, too. Talking together openly about family finances is a better way to lower everyone’s stress level and also teach kids about money.

 

Listen in while we start the conversation on children and money.

may podcast script

 

 

 

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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When they are 30. . .

You’ve heard great ideas on the value of chores and what’s appropriate for different ages. I’d like to take a life review look at the value of teaching kids responsibility at home. This quote stuck with me while I was raising my children. . “Don’t do for your children what they can do for themselves.” I’m sorry to say I can’t remember where I got this bit of wisdom, but it guided my parenting and will continue to guide my grandparenting.

You may know a 30 year old who still brings his laundry home to mom (in her 60’s) to do his laundry. Its’ not because he doesn’t have the money or the time. It’s because Mom doesn’t think he can do it right and will do it for him. . . forever. Or the college graduate who claims she doesn’t know how to fill out a dry cleaning form, saying “My mom will do it’. I remember a teenager who didn’t have her favorite jeans for a particular occasion. She had experience washing clothes.  Laundry was on the ‘chore list’.

Teen (in a shrill tone of voice): MOOOOM, my jeans aren’t clean! I have to wear them today!
Mom (calmly in an even tone of voice): Do you remember how the washing machine works?
Teen: (with an eye roll and ever so slight affirmative head nod.)
Mom: “What are you going to do about not having your jeans?”

It was painful. For her. For me. But we survived and she’s particular about her own laundry now (20 something).

Doing chores builds skills and self esteem, creates confidence and problem solving skills. Doing chores helps a child develop a work ethic, persistence or ‘grit’, and a sense of accomplishment. Don’t deny your children that opportunity to build their character. When they are adults, their peers will be amazed, their employers impressed and their own children capable. When they are 6-8 years look at what children can do!

So when my granddaughter makes a mess, I’ll teach her how to clean it up. And be patient with imperfection. And think of how she will be when she’s 30.

Kristi

Kristi Cooper

Kristi’s expertise in caregiving, mind body skills and nature education inspires her messages about healthy people and environments with parents, professionals, and community leaders.

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