As I started thinking about chores and my childhood I was struck by a memory. I remembered how my sister and I divided our chores as pre-teens. We would take mom’s list, write the chores on small slips of paper, put them in a stocking hat and shake shake shake the hat. We then took turns pulling out the slips of paper. Groaning or cheering soon commenced followed by contemplative silence.
It was in this silence that I believe our ‘true’ learning happened. Imagine us analyzing our list. Carefully calculating how long the tasks would take. Considering the impact the list was about to have on our play time. Silently we would also process each other’s list in our heads. Deciphering if it might be worth it to try to trade out tasks to fit our play time plans better. Tasks, total time and overall effort became part of the chore equation.
I would like to say that our tasks always got done… but we were just kids after all. Sometimes we spent too much time on the processing, negotiating and trading. Other times we called in the neighborhood friends to help us finish faster and it actually took much longer than expected. Its also possible that every once in awhile mom may have shown up before the stocking hat selection even got started.
Regardless, we learned. We learned how important we were to our family unit. We learned and were proud. Proud of our creative process, our innovative ideas and our ability to negotiate to meet our own individual desires and needs. Chores weren’t always fun, but they were always at least a bit interesting. (I wonder where that stocking hat is?)
“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!
When children don’t have time for household chores, it’s time to reevaluate their busy schedules.
Many parents are concerned about their children’s achievement and success. But some fill their children’s schedules with so many activities, tutoring sessions and private lessons, that there is no time left for learning to help at home. However, getting your kids to complete household chores may be a better strategy for long-term positive social and academic outcomes than whatever additional activities they are involved in.
Research from the University of Minnesota found that young adults who began chores at ages 3 and 4 were more likely to have good relationships with family and friends, to achieve academic and early career success and to be self-sufficient, as compared with those who didn’t have chores or who started doing chores as teens.
Join us this month as we talk about children and chores.
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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!
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!
As I was reading about kindness I became fascinated by the brain research. I sat there thinking “Well of course, the brain is in charge of our feelings. Why wouldn’t it be the center of this conversation?”.
Our brains are in charge of our emotions and our actions. Our brains take the input we receive from others. Process the information. Tell us how to emotionally respond. And our actions become the response. Makes perfect sense. The brain is in charge of kindness.
And then I read this, “our brain learns best about kindness when it FEELS kindness”. There is was.
How should I teach my children about kindness? Help them FEEL kindness.
Children learn kindness when they ‘feel’ what its like to make someone else smile. And their brain learns.
They learn about kindness when they share with others, when they comfort others, when they give to others. And their brain learns.
Suddenly writing this blog topic wasn’t rocket science, but is was brain science. It was simply thinking about all of the ways that children can be kind to others and understanding that while they do this – their brain learns.
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!
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As parents, we want what’s best for our children. But as a parent I’ve experienced the urge to provide experiences and material possessions that I wasn’t fortunate enough to have had as a child and as an adult I have the financial means to provide for my child. I have learned that this urge needs to counter with the question of “what is best?”.
How do we know what’s best? I ask myself this question every birthday, and every holiday. I have used a couple questions to keep my urge to give under control. The first question I ask is “Is this gift or experience good for them?” In other words, does giving this gift promote or prevent learning? Then I evaluate the financial impact that this gift will have on our family budget. Does it use too many family resources that should be used or saved for something else? College isn’t many years away even for an infant. Even little purchases add up over the years. The last question I consider is that of need. Is the gift something I want? Does it benefit me more than my child? Am I using the gift as a way to compensate for time, I wish I had spent with my child?
Overindulging and buying too much has become epidemic among parents. As parents we need to question our purchases and respond with moderation and mindfulness. Even with good intentions, the results of giving too much can be harmful.
This week we welcome guest blogger Kristi Cooper. Human Sciences Specialist in Family Life and new grandma.
I had no idea I’d be taking my own advice years after I wrote about the overspending of grandmothers and aunts on new babies. I’m very excited to provide my 11 month old granddaughter with as many new experiences as she can handle. Her parents are practical and their home is small so the oodles of toys, clothes and other baubles that are bestowed upon her by well-meaning relatives create stress. Besides, my grandgirl is pretty happy with simple household surfaces to pound and pull up on, and a human or two to keep her entertained.
Marketers of baby stuff focus on female consumers – aunts and grandmothers in particular – because their hearts are as big as their wallets. By keeping our wallets closed and our hearts open we can avoid turning our grandchildren into beggars and entitled teens. Here are 5 ways to love those precious little ones without creating strained relationships, stress over stuff and maintain our financial wellbeing.
- Gift of Talent/Skills – We all have the need to contribute to our family and community. Share age-appropriate activities with your grandchild or grand baby. Play together – Teach a game from your childhood such as kick-the-can or hide-and-seek.
- Gift of Words – Talk Together – Encourage grandchildren, nieces, and nephews by highlighting the positive values you see in them. Ask about their goals in life. Talk about how they can reach those goals. Point out the characteristics that you admire in them.
- Gift of Time – Nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention – sharing conversation and activities. Work together Do household chores, homework, bicycle repair or volunteer in the community with your younger generation. Working together teaches skills, work ethic and the value of contributing to others.
- Gift of Objects – We all like to receive objects that have been thoughtfully selected just for us. Keep material gifts to a minimum and consider the life-span of the object. Create together – Choose toys and consumables like art materials that stimulate critical thinking, imagination and are age-appropriate. Ask yourself, who is doing the thinking – the child or the manufacturer?
- Gift of Touch/Self Care – Wrap these gifts in plenty of hugs and kisses, bedtime backrubs, tickles and laughter. Practice relaxation techniques so you can be fully present for your grandchild.
YOU are the best gift your grandchild can receive!
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!
Do some kids have too much stuff? Are they over involved in sports or dance or other activities? Knowing how much is too much often may depend on whether children also are getting enough positive interaction with the adults in their lives. Highly stressful, competitive lifestyles and unavailable parents may make children more vulnerable to mental health problems and may compromise their well-being. The excessive pressure to achieve combined with physical and emotional isolation and neglect from parents, has extreme negative effects on children, regardless of the family’s financial resources.
When families become too invested in extrinsic rewards – the stuff – while at the same time neglecting intrinsic needs such as closeness in their relationship, that’s when negative mental health outcomes are more likely. Protecting children from overindulgence is a balance that puts more emphasis on love than on money.
Join us this month as we talk about overindulgence and its impact on children’s happiness.
Overindulgence Script Feb 2016
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The Science of Parenting blog now is available via text message. It’s another way you can access research-based parenting information from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
It’s easy. Simply type the keyword sciparent in your phone and send it to the number 95577 to be added to our distribution list.
The Science of Parenting’s Web-based texting program operates much like an email service. After participants text sciparent to 95577, they are added to the Science of Parenting texting schedule and will begin receiving text messages with parenting information on a regular basis. Sometimes the messages will include links to photos or videos hosted on the Science of Parenting website.
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There are many similarities between goal setting and traveling down life’s highway. How do we help kids learn how to achieve goals when the path life takes you isn’t typically a superhighway. Rather it’s a curvy, twisting, mostly uphill dirt road scattered with potholes and mud puddles. At least that’s how many people would describe the path their life has taken.
I don’t think that we are fair with our kids, if we paint a picture of success that is void of the obvious potential obstacles that may get in their way. I’ve found goalsetting to be more productive with my kids, if together, we can anticipate the difficulties that might lay ahead. As adults we already know that it’s much easier to travel down a road that has signs posted that help you avoid potential perils. We’ve learned that it’s easier to drive with your headlights on, in other words, being prepared for the conditions and what lies ahead.
My other piece of travel advice. Never travel without a roadmap. A roadmap—is essential for the experienced and inexperienced traveler. In goalsetting—the map is the plan. A plan that has been made with all of the anticipated obstacles in mind… will make success much more probable!
It is a New Year, but my “to do” list is a mile long. Are you someone that makes lists of the things that you must accomplish? As a family, do you make a list of your dreams and wishes for the year? Something I learned early in my 4-H career, was that if I would write down my goals, and continue to review them throughout the year, I was more likely to see success.
A to do list is something that helps us stay on track. It is very easy to get distracted at work, home and even at school. My sister refers to distractions as “shiny objects”. As a parent she has learned to limit the “shiny object” distractions so that her boys can stay on track.
I wonder how many of us have the same “shiny object” distraction syndrome. Attention deficit is what some folks may call it. We have so many competing opportunities that it makes it hard to keep focused on just one task at a time. I do believe that if we learn skills in time management and work alongside people who have similar goals and work ethic that we can achieve so much.
Prioritizing our plan may be a needed step! If you have a list that must be prioritized, how do you go about deciding what to accomplish first? Some say to do the easiest tasks first and cross them off your list. Others would advise to do the most difficult tasks when you are at your freshest. Some folks are best and brightest first thing in the morning. Others feel that the morning is a time for waking up and these folks get their energy in the afternoon. Try to identify the time you work best and then get at it and use your energy to tackle your list.
As parents, help your children learn to set their own personal goals. Take some time as a family and visit with one another about what plans would help your family feel more organized in the New Year. Maybe look at the calendar, and make some decisions about your schedules. Planning ahead will help you to feel in control of the hectic schedule that many families experience. Another way to avoid distractions is to set down our mobile device.
Have you noticed how addicting our mobile devices are? The cell phone is a phone, calendar, instant messenger, quick connection to the Internet and certainly a distraction. The cell phone is something that is also getting in the way of some of our most important human connections. People are more likely to text someone than to visit face to face. We have a whole group of students that are unable to write a complete sentence or spell correctly, because we have become lazy by texting and hiding behind the ease of the cell phone.
We can do better! We must do better. Plan to communicate with your family today, develop your yearly plan and remember to review it throughout the year! Together your family can steer the ship in a new direction in 2016!
Happy New Year!