Archive for June, 2011


June 27th, 2011

My fiancé coaches a ten year old baseball team.  Being a huge sports fanatic myself, I always enjoy going to the games to support my fiancé and the team.  However, I must admit that I secretly enjoy using this time to observe the parents.  Because I am so interested in parenting, and have so much respect for parents, I enjoy the opportunity to learn from others.

This past weekend, I found myself particularly interested in the parents’ reactions to a child’s unsuccessful attempts (for example, striking out or making an error).   Amongst the many different reactions, there were two extremes.  One parent did not hold the child responsible at all by stating things like, “I would have never swung at that terrible pitch either” or “I can’t believe the ump called you out.”  The other extreme was a parent who held the child solely responsible, and was often found yelling things like, “Swing the bat” or “Get your head in the game.”

Although there were many variations between these two extremes, I shared these extremes with my fiancé, and took the opportunity to discuss with him how we might handle this situation when we have children.  (With our competitive natures, it’s good for us to have a “stay cool, calm, and collective” plan before going into any sporting event, let alone that of our future child!)

After some discussion, we both decided that children need to be taught all aspects of playing a sport, including the physical, emotional, and mental aspects.  Every unsuccessful attempt provides an opportunity for parents to teach and children to learn.  The learning may come in many forms:  how to handle emotions, how to be a good sport, how to hit the baseball, etc.  We made it our goal that after each game, we would first and foremost teach our child about handling emotions and sportsmanship.  Our second priority would to teach the physical skills of playing the sport.

For example, if our child made an error in fielding, then sulked for two innings, our conversation might look something like this:

  • “It looked like you were upset after you missed that ground ball.  What was going through your head?”
    • This might lead to questions like, “What do you do when you’re angry with yourself?  How do you bounce back and get ready for the next play?”
    • We will then likely brainstorm some ways to handle tough, unsuccessful sporting attempts, like telling teammates, “I got all of the kinks worked out, and now I’m ready to get the next one!”

Obviously this approach will really vary depending on the age of the child.  I’m curious, how do you help your child handle strikeouts?  Errors?  Missed goal kicks?  Or any other unsuccessful sporting attempt?


Positive Parenting and Your Child’s Weight

June 15th, 2011

Last month’s Science of Parenting Podcast highlighted childhood obesity, and this month it focused on Parenting Styles.  Although these may seem like two very different matters, there is actually a lot of research linking the two topics.  A recent study followed 2,516 adolescents for five years to explore how parenting styles affected children’s weight.

First, researchers labeled parenting styles of both moms and dads by looking at responsiveness (level of love, affection, and warmth) and demandingness (level of strictness and expectation).  Historically, when parents have high expectations and boundaries for their children (high demandingness), but also show their children how much they love and care about them (high responsiveness), the children have the most positive outcomes.

Second, researchers calculated the children’s Body Mass Index (BMI), a number used to determine if a person is underweight, a healthy weight, or overweight.  Finally, they asked the children what types of food they typically eat.  The results are summarized below.

  • When moms showed high demandingness and high responsiveness, it led to sons who had healthier BMI scores than the sons of moms who showed high demandingness and low responsiveness.
  • When moms showed high demandingness and high responsiveness, it led to daughters who had healthier BMI scores than the daughters of moms who showed low demandingness and low responsiveness.
  • When dads showed high responsiveness (regardless of their level of demandingness), it led to daughters who ate more fruits and vegetables than the daughters of dads who showed low responsiveness.

To summarize, moms who set high expectations in a structured environment, but also show children a lot of care and love, create environments that promote healthy BMIs for both sons and daughters.  Also, when daughters feel a lot of warmth and love from their fathers, they are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables.

What are some demands you set for your children to help develop healthy eating habits?  In what ways might your love and affection also help your children develop healthy eating habits?

nutrition, positive parenting

Consistent Parenting

June 2nd, 2011

On March 3rd, we discussed positive parenting strategies, including giving appropriate choices, explaining decisions, listening to the feelings and concerns of your children, setting limits, and acting out of love.

It’s important to not only use these strategies, but to use them as consistently as possible.  If children are receiving different messages from one or both parents, the child may get confused and be unsure of how to act.  It will help your child understand what is expected if you and any other parental figures are consistent.

How do you know if you and/or any other parents are inconsistent parents?  Do you say “yes” when the other parent says “no”?  Do you make a rule, but fail to follow through on the consequences when your child breaks the rule?  Do you say “no” to your child’s request, then back down and say “yes” if the child persists?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there’s probably room for improvement.

One way you can improve consistency is to create boundaries.  Determine what behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable, and what consequences are appropriate if children behave in unacceptable ways.  Remember when determining consequences, it needs to be something you can follow through on.

Clearly explain to your children the rules and consequences that have been decided upon, and why they have been chosen.  For example, “If you run into the street while playing outside, you will have to play inside for two days.  We want you to be safe and not get hurt, so we need to know you will stay in the yard.”

Be sure they understand what the boundaries are, and what will occur if these boundaries are broken.  Depending on the age of your children, they may have some input on rules and consequences.  This gives you a good opportunity to listen to and consider their thoughts and reasons.  You may find it is appropriate to change a rule or consequence based on what your child says, but always remember:  you make the final decision.

All parental figures need to consistently follow through on the rules and consequences.  If a child breaks a rule, the consequence needs to immediately follow the incident.  If consequences are not used consistently or immediately, it can be hard for children to make the connection between the behavior and the consequence.

When is it most difficult for you to be a consistent parent?  What strategies might you try to help you stay consistent in these difficult situations?

positive parenting

Episode 4: Good Parenting

June 1st, 2011

Doug and Mike discuss four styles of parenting with Kimberly Greder, an extension specialist and associate professor of human development and family studies at Iowa State, in this month’s Science of Parenting radio program podcast.

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