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Parenting Easy Children….. How hard can it be?

May 11th, 2015

Having an easy or flexible child doesn’t mean you get a free pass on parenting, it’s true these kids tend to be easy learners and they eat and sleep regularly. But because they’re so undemanding, their parents may not give them the attention they need and may unconsciously ignore them.  Parents need to remember that an easy child needs a lot of parental time and attention.

Join us this month as we blog about the more flexible and easy temperament style.

baby sleeping

 

miscellaneous, podcast

Seeing Through the Temperament Window

February 19th, 2015

I  like to think of learning about temperament as ‘cleaning off a window’. The window is the way we can ‘see into’ who our child is and how they respond to their world. At first, the window may be dusty or clouded and we aren’t able to see through it clearly. As we learn about our child’s temperament, we begin to clear the cloudiness off the window and can begin to anticipate the child’s responses or even predict a particular behavior. A clear view through the window can help us understand why they do what they do.

Like Janet said last week, allowing time to give the ‘slow to warm’ or ‘shy’ child a chance to ‘get used to it’ is important to supporting their self-esteem. The same can be true for allowing them extra time to learn new routines, try new foods or get acclimated to new clothes or shoes. It’s important to remember that for this temperament ‘newness’ of anything really IS a challenge. Allowing them the opportunity to try, test and experiment can be an easy way to show them you support their hesitant temperament.

One of my favorite things about temperament is that it starts with genetics. Ultimately our children respond the way they do based on the genes we gave them. As they grow, their temperament genes can be influenced by how the adults in their lives respond to them. As we encourage, support and dance with their temperament, we are guiding and influencing how they continue to respond to their surroundings. A supportive environment begins to create a ‘good fit’ between the adult and the child. That ‘fit’ becomes a piece of the foundation of the child’s self-esteem.

Share with us how you have encouraged and supported a ‘slow to warm’ or shy temperament?

Lori Hayungs

communicating, discipline, miscellaneous, parenting, temperament

The Parenting Dance

February 5th, 2015

Parenting is like dancing: even with practice, the partners may step on each other’s toes. However, the parenting dance has a greater chance for success when the parent knows how to read and take the child’s lead.

The parenting dance is the mix between the child’s natural style, or temperament, and the parent’s approach and response. Getting the mix just right takes practice, particularly with a child who is shy or slow to warm up to new routines or environments.  During February we will blog about temperament and explore ways for parents to encourage their children to try new experiences without fear.

Won’t you join us?

 

miscellaneous

Conversations, conversations, conversations

January 31st, 2015

Dr. Constance Beecher, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, School of Education and Human Sciences Extension and Outreach shares more with us about expanding children’s vocabulary.

“Vocabulary can be developed by directly teaching new words, or indirectly through having a lot of exposure to words in books and conversations.   Research suggests a combination of both is the best approach, says Dr. Beecher.”

“Developing vocabulary indirectly through books and conversations has many benefits. Children who are read to frequently gain a life-long love of reading. The more children hear different words and understand their meaning, the better readers they will become. This is because learning to read requires an understanding of the relationship between the sounds of language (phonemic awareness) and the symbol or letter that represents that sound (phonics). The more words children know, the better they are able to understand the letter/sound relationship, and conversely, the more knowledge children have about the letter/sound relationship, the better they are able to learn new words,” Dr. Beecher.

She also suggests, “Parents can read a variety of books to and with children, and pause at words that children may not know to explain their meaning. For example, while reading “Corduroy went up the escalator.”, pause and ask “do you know what an escalator is?”. Then define: “An escalator is a set of stairs that moves you from one floor to another.” Then explain: “Last week while I was at Macys, and I rode an escalator from the first floor to the second floor”. Then relate to child: “Where have you ridden on an escalator?” – state the question in a way so that the child can say the word, or ask child to repeat word.”

Dr. Beecher reminds us that, “When having conversations, ask open ended questions (questions that can’t be answered with a yes/no). During these conversations, you can introduce synonyms. For example, you might be talking about what happened at daycare or preschool. If your child talks about making a tall tower in the block area, you can say “Oh, you made an enormous skyscraper?” “Enormous is another word for something is very big or tall”, and when a building is enormous, we call it a skyscraper. Why do you think we say skyscraper?”. This gives children an opportunity to practice the new words. Children need opportunities not only to hear new words, but to practice saying them.”

And she also wants us to remember the Non-fiction! Non-fiction or informational books are a great source of new vocabulary. When children are exposed to a wide range of vocabulary in areas like science or history, they are more prepared when they have to read these types of texts in school. See websites like this for suggestions, http://commoncore.scholastic.com/teachers/books/non-fiction.

Or talk with your librarian. This list of non-fiction books for ages 3-5 comes from the State Library of Iowa http://www.statelibraryofiowa.org/ld/t-z/youthservices/Best-Books-for-Preschoolers/bibliography-of-nonfiction-for-preschoolers.

Dr. Beecher says, “You can add vocabulary to your everyday activities. When you take your car to the shop to change your oil, talk about oil, engines, and other components of a car. When you go to a nursery to pick out new plants and flowers for your yard be sure to note the different names of flowers, types of grass, plants and trees. When you make a new recipe, talk about spaghetti, marinara sauce, parmesan cheese, sautéing. Use a mix of nouns and verbs.”

She says, “It takes about an average child about 12 times of interacting with a word before he or she is familiar enough with the word to use it, and many times we do not provide enough opportunities for children to get this practice.”

And Dr. Beecher’s final thoughts? “Lastly, make it fun. There is no need to sit children down with flashcards and ask them to define words. Reading and talking together will make learning vocabulary natural and fun.”

 

Share with us ways that you have made ‘vocabulary’ fun!

Lori Hayungs

 

 

 

 

 

communicating, family time, language development, miscellaneous, parenting ,

All About Baby Talk

January 5th, 2015

165179459-mombaby280It seems inevitable: People see babies and immediately start talking to them in a high pitched voice, exaggerating their vowel sounds. But there’s a good reason for this behavior. Child development experts call this musical way of talking ‘parentese,’ and more and more researchers are telling us how important it is to infants’ development and future success in learning.

Whether you call it parentese or baby talk, research shows that the more parents talks to their babies face to face, the more words the children will know by the time they reach age 3 and there just is something special with face-to-face communication.

Join us this month as we shut off the television, put away the smartphones and iPads and talk.

 

 

miscellaneous

Traditions Aren’t Just for the Holidays!

December 28th, 2014

 

Well,  the holidays are almost behind us.  The warm and happy feelings that we get from spending time together as a family, needed end because the calendar says January.  Just the opposite is true.  It’s a wonderful time, to emphasize ordinary, everyday life traditions.

My family enjoys family meal time.  But we haven’t always!  We try to get in at least 4 family meals together each week.  Several year ago after my husband made some life changes,  we made a plan  to make eating and talking  together a priority.   I used to hear lots of complaints—“we’re eating too early”, “I’m not hungry”, “I don’t like that.”, and  “I’d rather sit in front of the television”.  But, as a family,  we all agreed that it was important for us to spend time together and family meals seemed like the place to start.  There are no complaints now and certainly no regrets.

Start a family physical activity time.   After dinner walks  or bike rides are a great place to start.  Traditions can easily become habits!  May think about trying new physical activities such as bowling, gardening, sledding, ice skating, swimming, or yoga.

Maybe it’s time to arrange for special time with each child.  My kids are almost adults and this is still really important.   It is important that each child in a family gets “alone-time” with a parent on a regular basis. Volunteer or plan a community service activity as a family. Every community has unique needs that you and your family can help address such as picking up litter, volunteering at a nursing home, planting flowers for an elderly neighbor, or buying a toy for a needy child at Christmas.

What’s important is making your family important.  What better way than sharing time..at the holidays and every day of the year.      Janet

miscellaneous

More than just trinkets

December 17th, 2014

When I got married morornamente than twenty years ago my mother began giving me decorative ornaments. When I began to have children they too received ornaments. At first, I didn’t really know how to display them since there were so few. However, time flies when you’re having fun and suddenly this year I have a problem (according to my youngest child). I have run out of space. As I reflect on our topic this month, I couldn’t help but think about the ornaments. They may look like trinkets to most but to us they tell a story. A story of vacations, new babies, new homes, popular movies and even eventful mishaps in our lives. The ornaments have become a tradition. A giving ritual. At one point my mom asked if we still wanted to continue or if the ornaments were becoming a hassle. I confess to throwing a mini-tantrum at the though of not receiving my ornament. I have come to love looking at them and remembering with my family what the ornaments symbolize for us. I look forward to them each year and expect to continue the tradition as well.

What trinkets create traditions in your family?

Lori Hayungs

miscellaneous

Families Need Traditions

December 6th, 2014

Carrying out family traditions takes effort, but traditions and rituals can make families stronger.  Holidays are good times for families to celebrate annual rituals, like serving special foods, telling favorite stories, putting cherished decorations on display and creating holiday memories strengthens family ties. No need to wait for the holiday season though. Small customs like a weekly family meal, uniquely celebrating birthdays or life cycle celebrations like weddings or graduations are great places to start.

Most importantly, there are no right or wrong traditions. Families can use their own values, religion, history and culture to create traditions that are meaningful to them.

Join us this month as we talk about family traditions and rituals.

 

 

 

miscellaneous

Turning It Off Without Tuning Them Out.

November 25th, 2014

So many BIG things in the media. Unexpected interruptions on the radio and television that we cant always prevent little ears from hearing. It’s all right to turn the media off as long as we aren’t just tuning out the questions it creates in our children’s minds. We can’t protect our children from every ‘big scary thing’ in the world. We can however, listen to their fears, ponder their real questions, and share some simple thoughts to help them know we are protecting them.

What are some simple ways we can convey we are protecting our children from the ‘big things’?

Protection from large health threats

  • Washing our hands frequently with soap and water helps us to stay healthy.
  • Covering our mouth and nose when we sneeze or cough help us to prevent spreading germs.

Protection from violence

  • When playing outside, staying in the areas our parents have told us are as safe places to play.
  • Telling our parents if we see anyone or anything that seems ‘not safe’.

Let your child know that you ‘hear’  that you are ‘listening’ and that her concern matters to you.

What are ways you have helped your child feel ‘heard’ when it comes to big fears or worries?

Lori L Hayungs

 

miscellaneous

Big things and little people

November 18th, 2014

When I was a little girl …’some very bad men stole a big plane over the ocean and turned the men on it into hostages”, at least, that’s what I understood at the time. About that same time, my parents were supposed to fly in a big plane over the ocean as well. I was a wreck. I was certain the bad men were going to ‘make hostages out’ of my parents too.

As parents, it is important for us to ‘see’ from our children’s eyes what the media reports and stories may look and sound like to them. During the hostage crisis, I was in elementary school. Everything was in close proximity to us in my young mind. Oceans most certainly must be just beyond grandmas, the bad men were from a local jail and any airplane could be next. In my mind and at my age everything was close and everything was possible. I had no concept of the distance between the United States and Iran. I had understanding of military intervention or hostage negotiations. All I knew is that my parents were going away on a plane and I DIDN’T LIKE IT.

It was a tough week while my parents were gone.  I remember it vividly even though it’s been several decades. Everyone once in awhile my elementary age daughter will see or hear something on the news and ask a general question. I make myself stop and listen for what she’s really asking, “Could that happen to me? Is that happening close to us? Are they coming to our town next?”  Even though she isn’t ASKING those questions out loud it is very possible she could be thinking them. My role as a parent is to listen for the un-asked question, search out the underlying fear and determine what she really needs to know.

Our children are hearing the news. Are we listening to their questions?

What have your children asked about the various ‘big topics’ on the news?  What insight could you share with us about your response?

Lori Hayungs

miscellaneous

Helping Kids Understand Health Threats

November 6th, 2014

Daily news reports about Ebola infections, quarantines and death may have children worried that they may be stricken by this disease or other illnesses. Research shows that too much unsupervised media viewing can cause children unneeded and unintentional stress and fear. One way to alleviate that fear is to talk to your children about what they’re seeing and hearing in the news. Find out what they know and what questions they would like answered.

In November, join us as we blog about ways that parents can reduce children’s anxiousness related to health threats like Ebola. We also will look at how parents can use the situation to teach children important skills about illness prevention and world health issues.

miscellaneous

Disco Creates Drive

October 24th, 2014

dance Ok, disco music doesn’t really create the drive to do things but it sure can HELP! Elizabeth’s blog last week, got me thinking about all the ways that I utilize (or have utilized) music to accomplish or complete different things throughout my life. It’s a pretty long list, but I thought the ones below were worth sharing.

  1. Playing the Top 40 on the radio to study my high school geography notes and connecting locations to the lyrics of the songs (…her name was Rio…).
  2. Using a Disco Micky Mouse record (yes a vinyl record) to help my three year old classroom kiddos expend their energy before nap time.
  3. Gathering multiple cd’s to take to the hospital when they told me it could take more than 24 hours to birth my child and I would want to be distracted.
  4. Downloading an hours worth of music to my music player to help convince my body it wants to keep moving and work up a good sweat.

From live radio to recorded downloads music can motivate us, relax us, energize and calm us. It connects to our feelings and emotions in a way that can keep us moving forward. Driving us to accomplish and complete.

As you reflect back on your life and the music in it, we would love to have you share with us the different ways that music has supported or helped you to ‘finish’.

Lori Hayungs

miscellaneous

Is it Magic? Or is it Music?

October 16th, 2014

So do you ever wonder why when you tell a 3 year old to “clean up”, they completely ignore you, but once you start singing that oh so popular “Clean Up Song”, that same 3 year old happily and energetically starts cleaning up? Is it magic or is it music? That’s the question we asked guest blogger Elizabeth Stegemöller, PhD and Board Certified Music Therapist from the ISU Kinesology Department.

Join in on our conversation with Elizabeth below.

..”Well, of course it is the music. Believe it or not being involved with music, be it music listening, instrumental playing, singing, or dancing has many benefits for a child’s physical, mental, emotional, and social development. Children learn to coordinate fine motor movements of the hands when learning an instrument. In fact most instruments require you to do completely opposite actions with each hand. Yeah, you remember how hard it was to get that left hand to do anything productive on the piano. Dancing includes the coordination of larger muscle groups of the whole body. Then there is the mental/cognitive aspects that include reading and pairing symbols with letters and meanings, leaning a whole new language (I mean what does forte really mean, how about adagio), and then somehow translate all of this into a motor command for your fingers or voice. Now, what about the emotional responses to music. Music is a mechanism to appropriately express feelings. I mean give a teenager some headphones and if you dare a drum set, and watch out! Finally, making music together teaches children how to work together to produce a final masterpiece. Really, there is no part of the human brain that isn’t involved with music.”

But what is it specifically about music that holds this power over human behavior? How can music encourage a toddler to clean up or help them learn their ABCs and why does this even matter?

“Interestingly, it starts with the rhythmic and harmonic structure of music and how the brain processes this signal. First, by nature music is a “cleaner” signal. There is less noise in a music signal than in a speech signal. And the brain likes a “clean” signal, especially a developing brain. Second, precise temporal stimulation of neural structures leads to plasticity (making new connections in the brain). Basically, if the brain (neurons) fires together, it wires together. Music is a highly organized rhythmic structure that allows for synchronization of multiple brain areas. Most importantly, music listening increases dopamine in the brain. Guess what, in order to learn anything, you need dopamine! So, stimulating the brain with a clear and synchronized signal along with the increase in dopamine is precisely what is needed for neural plasticity (i.e. learning).”

Now, back to that 3 year old cleaning up. Why did music work?

“Well, singing was a clear signal that was easier for the child to process and make the neural connection and or association that the signal meant to “clean up” regardless if they processed the meaning of the actual words or just the musical tune. But what about the ABC’s? Well, music synchronized neural activity along with increased dopamine and established new connections for alphabet order. Now just imagine how many neural connections are being made by playing an instrument, dancing, and making music as a group! Music is magic – brain magic!”

 

Share with us how you have used music in a way that seemed magical!

Lori Hayungs

miscellaneous

When Do I Start?

September 12th, 2014

Sure we want our kids to be able to make good decisions. But how do we get from point A to point B? The simple answer is – slowly but methodically. The process begins early, as early as when our kids begin to assert themselves.

In the podcast Lori talked about how children between 4 and 10 often find it hard to make decisions. So, here are some ideas to slowly help young children make decisions.

  • Offer a choice only when there is a choice. Don’t say “what do you want for supper?” when you’ve already got the tater tot casserole in the oven.
  • Offer just a few choices. Too many choices are overwhelming and confusing. Ask, “do you want an apple or string cheese for a snack”” rather than “what do you want to wear today?” and then throw open the closet door.
  • Offer safe choices. Young children don’t have the knowledge or experience to always know what is right or wrong, what is safe or unsafe. An example of a safe choice is, “do you want to hold Daddy’s hand or Mommy’s hand while we cross the street?” Asking “do you want to hold my hand to cross the street?” is not a safe choice to give a young child.
  • Offer your support. As a parent you can help your child think things through before she or he makes a decision. Chelsey is at the store with you and wants to send $5.00 she has been saving. But she can’t decide whether to buy a dress for her doll or some sparkly markers. Talk to Chelsey about what she will use the most, how long the items might last, etc. You are teaching her how to think things through and each time the decision will come a bit easier.

What have you done to help a young child begin to make decisions?

Donna Donald

decision making, miscellaneous

Put that phone away!

August 15th, 2014

It’s decided; your child has a cell phone. So what happens next? My suggestion is this – time for a family meeting to set ground rules. Sit down together and go over how and when the phone will be used. Will there be some whining? Maybe. Will it make a difference? Yes.

Limits are a good place to start. Depending upon your family phone plan, the minutes may be set or unlimited. And even if you have unlimited minutes, do you want your child on the phone all the time? Talk about what happens when he exceeds the set number of minutes or texts. Who will pay for it? Does she know how to keep track? Are there times and places the phone needs to be turned off? Examples might be: classroom, meals, bedtime, restaurants, worship services, while driving (teens).

Now here’s the kicker – you need to follow the same limits. Kids see how their parents use cell phones and will mimic the behavior.

  • If I want my grandchildren to carry on a conversation during a meal, I have to silence my phone when I ask them to do the same.
  • When I’m driving and my children or grandchildren are with me, I must ignore calls and texts or pull off the road to respond.
  • I can’t send texts or post messages after bedtime if I support a rule of “no after hours” phone use.

Think role model! Teaching your child how to use a cell phone is now as basic as teaching him how to make a bed. Perhaps not too exciting but ground rules will help prevent continuous conflict.

What are some of the rules you have in your family around cell phones?

Donna Donald

 

media and kids, miscellaneous, parenting