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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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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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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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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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Chores Teach Responsibility

kid-thinking280

“It’s not fair”; “I don’t have time”; “It’s not my job”; Words often expressed by children who are asked to complete some household task!

Taking responsibility for a household task can assist children learn essential life skills, including taking responsibility, and expressing generosity. Families who work together to make decisions, keep the house clean, and care for one another, can use that energy to tackle even tougher issues! Don’t give up parents! Teaching your children to accept responsibility through assignments at home will create strong children!

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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Words Can Hurt

angry

I am very aware of the words I use to communicate! Words can be hurtful when used to bully, or demean others.  The effects can last a long time, and those words can never be taken back.  Compliments or words of affirmation can boost a child’s self-esteem. What words do you use to compliment your son or daughter?

Giving a compliment is a learned skill. Children grow and develop when given specific compliments or praise; showing you notice their effort in school, sports, or with your family. Some examples of positive compliments include, children making their bed; or hanging clothes on hangers.  Children can be recognized for helping to care for a sibling with kindness and patience.  Youth who have made progress in their school-work can feel a sense of accomplishment when a parent expresses happiness for a grade received or the completion of a school project.

The old saying—“sticks and stones can break my bones, but words may never hurt me.”  Couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Words can hurt.  Chose positive words wisely!

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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Kids are Watching!

Little girl looking at her mother

Alert!  Attention! Calling all parents and adults.  Yes, YOU!   I’m talking to you.  Kids are watching.  They are watching everything you do and everything you say.  Some of the most important lessons kids learn about kindness are observed.  But, will they pick up caring behaviors simply from watching?  Yes, they will model our behavior, but they will emulate much more, if we can intentionally discuss and encourage positive interactions. It’s our duty and responsibility as parents to point out the positive interactions that we observe and to be mindful that kids might be watching every move we make, so we had better behave!

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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Teach Kids Kindness and Compassion

Kids volunteering at food drive

Children aren’t born knowing how to be kind or compassionate. However, these virtues can be taught.

How do we raise kids who are compassionate and kind? We can give them opportunities to practice being kind. Children must learn to be kind, just as we learn language. Practice makes perfect and parents can encourage such simple opportunities like helping with housework. Parents can help children learn how to focus on others who need help. Children need to hear from their parents that caring for others is a top priority.

Harvard researchers tell us that children aren’t born good or bad, and we should never give up on them. They need adults who will help them, at every stage of their childhood, to become caring, respectful and responsible for their communities.”

Join us this month as we share ideas about the importance of raising children to be kind and compassionate. Listen to the podcast below or read the transcript.

We love hearing from you, so join us!

 

 

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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What Do Children Really Want? What Do They Really Need?

Beautiful little girl child with shopping colorful paper bags in

The cost of raising children is expensive.    It’s an art and  a skill to balance the child’s wants, needs, and desires, with your financial means.  But, sadly the emotional and social impacts of these decisions is often ignored. The parent experiences stress and the child-parent relationship is sacrificed for increased work hours in order to provide.  We have to wonder is the cost worth it?

What children really desire is a close personal relationship with their parent, and because parents are often overextended, parents tend to compensate for their absence utilizing their wallet. They buy, and buy and buy, and might just over extend their bank account. What children and teens really want is attention from their parents. So the next time you feel compelled to purchase something that your child might not really need, instead, schedule some one on one time and consider the cost: PRICELESS!

 

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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