Archive for March, 2012

You Want Me To Do What?

March 29th, 2012

During all my years of working with parents I have been asked repeatedly, “What can I do to get the kids to help out more around home?” And I think we all can see ourselves at Lori’s house with the laundry issue.

Many changes have taken place in homes since we were kids. The days of being able to depend on Mom to do it all are changing. So having your kids help with things around the house is a good idea.

When everyone pitches in, you have more time to enjoy each other as a family. The kids learn skills that will carry over into school, relationships, and adult life. They also learn they are an important part of the family.

The best time to teach your kids is when they are young. Even toddlers can help by picking up toys or carrying their plates to the dishwasher after meals. But don’t give up if you have an older child who doesn’t help – it’s never too late.

Here are three steps I found really helpful when getting our daughters to help out at home.

1. Notice good behavior. We had a “chore chart” posted on the kitchen door. The girls got to put stars on the chart when chores were completed. They really worked for those stars and when they earned a certain number, we would do something special together.

2. Show how to do a particular task. Your child is more likely to carry out a job if he knows exactly what you expect. Don’t expect him to get it “right” the first time. If also helps to tell him why you are doing things a certain way. 

3. Have your child check back with you after she is done with the tasks. That way you will know the job is done and done right. It also gives you a chance to compliment and praise her on a job well done.

Household chores are not going to go away no matter how much we wish they would. You can be a martyr and try to do it all yourself. And you  probably won’t be the happpiest Mom or Dad to be around. Or, you can spend the time to inovlve your children.

How do you handle household chores at your house? Any good suggestions on how to get the kids on board?

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Where did THAT shirt come from – it wasn’t there before!

March 22nd, 2012

I have 3 girls and 30,000 pieces of laundry to wash.  (Ok maybe I’m exaggerating). In the last 3 days (yes true) I have asked the girls to each go to the laundry room, get their own clean laundry and put it away. Each of them has gone to the laundry room 3 times. Why? Because after the first 2 trips they had still missed some of their own items, which meant there was still a clean laundry pile.

How do I get them to find their items on the first trip? I’d even settle for the second? Do they not recognize their own articles of clothing?  (They certainly do when one of their sisters is wearing it?)

After a few moments of pondering the dilemma I remembered  the following technique I learned from a Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14 last month.

Adding a Small Chore: Here’s how it works.

Because they didn’t accomplish the first chore – getting their own clean laundry-mind you after 3 separate requests.  – they will now have a small additional chore. When I asked them to get their clothes initially, I also asked them to fold/match 6 pieces of ‘family’ laundry (towels, wash clothes, linens, match socks etc.) They will now have to each fold 3 times the number of towels/washcloths that I asked them to the first time. So they will each have 18 family items to fold/match. Trust me there are plenty! (sock come in pairs remember!)

By giving them a small ‘additional’ chore they will learn to check and make sure their first chore was done to completion. A small chore is not meant to be a punishment or an overwhelming task (like cleaning the garage or the complete disaster of a bedroom). The goal is to make it an inconvenience so they stop and think – or at the very least DO!

What are some other ‘small’ chores that could be assigned for those minor infractions? You might be surprised how the minor infractions decrease with the addition of a few small chores here and there.

Happy assigning!


Find out about Strengthening Families 10-14 and other ISU Extension and Outreach programs here –

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Pitching a Fit in the Grocery Store

March 15th, 2012

Do you remember a time when your child pitched a fit in the grocery store? It’s one thing to handle a temper tantrum at home. But when it’s in public – like at the grocery store with everyone watching – that’s enough to test everything you know. Some people may give you that “why don’t you do something with your kid” look while others shoot you a sympathizing “I’ve been there” look. Either way you are probably embarrassed or frustrated or tired or just ready to throw up your hands.

We are most apt to have shopping disasters when we make those stops at the grocery store at the end of a busy day. Are you and your child too tired or hungry to shop? If so, a major tantrum is a high possibility. Children usually behave better when everyone is more relaxed and happy so plan the best time for the shopping trip. Be clear about expectations before you go in the store – stay in the cart, hold my hand, use indoor voice. Also decide together what will happen if your child behaves at the store. Keep it simple. Perhaps you stop for an ice cream cone on the way home or promise to play a favorite game when you get home.

Once you’re in the store, make a game of the shopping. Or give your child some choices (this or that cereal, red or yellow apples). Give him a responsibility like holding the bread or steering the cart. Praise him often to reinforce good behavior. “You are really helping Mommy by putting the cans in the cart.”

Okay, so even though we’ve done all the planning and talking, we can still end up with an out-of-control child. If that happens, take her to the restroom or out of the store away from other people and distractions. Tell her that her behavior is not acceptable and then wait – wait for her to calm down. If she is ready to try it again, go for it. If not, go home. And don’t go back in and buy her a treat where she just pitched a fit!!

What do you do when your child throws a tantrum in the grocery store? Any tips on calming down both parent and child?

Donna Donald

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Elementary my dear Watson….

March 8th, 2012

Sitting on my deck in the sun…listening to the neighborhood children running through the water puddles left by the melting snow. The sounds of their loud and intense squeals of laughter remind me that several of these kiddos are champion tantrum throwers as well. The emotions are just as strong when they are happy as when they are angry. Like Donna said last months temperament topic goes right along with this month’s temper tantrums topic.

In the heat of a good tantrum it’s so important to think about the cause behind the emotions. Getting wrapped up and wound up in the emotions along with the child will be like throwing gas on a fire. Finding a way to remain calm both physically and emotionally can help the child deescalate as well. What was the initial cause of the very first emotion? Was it frustration? Was it hurt? Was it fear? The intensity of the tantrum is the secondary emotion – something triggered.

We have to play Sherlock Holmes…. What was going on prior to the tantrum? Where was the child? Who was in the vicinity? When did the emotions start to show themselves?  Take a breath and see if you can find the clues before responding.

What were some clues you discovered when you search for reason behind your child’s tantrum?


education, language development, positive parenting, social-emotional, temperament , , , , , , , , ,

I Want It Right Now!

March 1st, 2012

And I want it my way. As an adult I can use words to communicate feelings. But try to remember what it is like to be a small child. Most toddlers still don’t talk too much or know how to express feelings. They aren’t very good at solving problems either. So when you think about it, having a tantrum almost makes sense.  During the podcast the guys talked about the two emotions that are central to tantrums – anger and sadness. I found it interesting that anger peaks about 1/3 of the way through the tantrum and then declines while sadness remains a constant steady background. I also tuned in to the conversation about how temperament figures into kids and tantrums. Do you see how last month’s podcast and this one tie together?

When a child gets angry it is soooo easy to respond with anger. In fact we were told that was a natural reaction. We were also warned about the anger trap. If everyone gets angry, then things can escalate and nothing gets resolved. Staying calm and in control of your own emotions is important. So is pausing for a few seconds before you respond. Doesn’t sound like too much to ask, but in the midst of a major meltdown it can be difficult. If you can remain calm and reasonably collected, you will be showing your child how to handle frustration and you will also have a better chance of figuring out the best way to deal with the tantrum.

The Temper tantrums publication suggest four possible ways to deal with a tantrum. Some are more suitable to different aged children. Check it out. Do you have a tantrum thrower in your family? What do you find helps dissolve the anger and comfort the child?  

Donna Donald

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Episode 13: All about Tantrums

March 1st, 2012

When children throw tantrums, which comes first: the screaming or the crying? Michael Potegal knows — and has the video evidence to prove it. The University of Minnesota researcher talks about his video study of tantrums in this month’s Science of Parenting podcast.

ISU Extension publications

Related resources

Learn more about Michael Potegal and his research.

Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families

Additional links to be posted with the news release

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