Goal Setting and Traveling Life’s Twisting Roads

Road SignThere 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!

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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Avoiding Distractions to Achieve Goals

Happy boy with raised armsIt 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!

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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Helping Kids Set Goals

Superhero kidEat better. Exercise more. Get organized. Learn something new. It’s that time of year when adults make resolutions to help them reach their goals. It’s also a good time for parents to help their children build goal-setting skills. To succeed in school and in life, children need to be able to make their own decisions and guide their own behavior. Setting goals can help kids learn to connect their own personal choices with the end results. Parents can be involved by helping their children think about and set personal goals, and then encouraging them to work toward the goals.

As you work on goals, try to avoid steering your child toward the goal you want him or her to achieve. Offer guidance, but let your child choose the goal. Children who have a say in what they are learning are more motivated to succeed. What matters is that children see themselves making progress. This is far more important than what the specific goal is.

Just us this month as we talk about goal setting with children.

Listen to the podcast below or read the script here. Jan2016 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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What We All Want

friendsAs we end one year and begin another, I felt it appropriate to share again the video link that Barb added at the end of her post last week. What We All Want

We are grateful for your presence with us as we strive to encourage and empower a younger generation.

Thank you from your blog team.

Janet, Lori and newbie Barb

 

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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Gifts of Presence more Important than Presents

Join us in welcoming a new guest blogger Barb Dunn Swanson to the Science of Parenting. Barb joined our Iowa State University Extension Human Sciences team this past summer.  She brings a wealth of extension experiences from working in the youth and families field in North Carolina and Iowa. Barb will share her thoughts on the importance of giving children and family the gift of “presence” more than the gift of “presents”.

Do you feel like the holidays seem to roll around faster and faster each year? Am I telling my age when I declare that time seems fleeting? I do enjoy the break we get during the holidays to re-connect with family and friends and to get re-energized.

Not every family has the same experience at the holidays. Some families will be out of work, creating hardships and some grief. Some may be dealing with the recent loss of a loved one, and that too creates grief. Through all of this, our care and comfort of one another can be a blessing.

One of the traditions many families share is gift giving. The holidays are the time of year we can help children and youth learn the gift of generosity. Generosity is learned through role modeling. Children and youth learn so much by observing the behaviors of those around them. The language they use, body language and self -expression is all learned. As adults, we can send strong messages through what we say, what we do and how we treat one another.

During the holiday season, instead of giving gifts that may need to purchased, wrapped and delivered, maybe we can re-think our gift giving strategy. What if we were to give a skill or a helping hand to someone we care for? Could we offer our TIME, to wrap someone’s holiday gifts? Could we offer to address Christmas cards for someone? Could we offer to go to the grocery store or shopping mall and shop alongside someone who may need extra time or attention? Could we spend a day at the senior center and visit and listen to the stories of the residents? These are the priceless gifts of attention that so many of us can give, and others will certainly appreciate.

As we at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach reflect on the holiday, we are reminded about our gift to the next generation. This video explains our efforts all year long!

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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Creating Grateful Children

Children can get caught up in a holiday frenzy of opening gifts and searching for more, without really paying attention to the gifts themselves or the gift givers. They can seem to be on a greedy quest. The experience can leave parents dazed and wondering how to encourage old fashioned gratitude and graciousness in their children.

Before holiday gift giving morphs into gift grabbing, parents can help their children move from greedy to grateful.

Join us this month as we blog about creating grateful children.

 

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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Overwhelmed by the holiday rush?

Where you overwhelmed by the holiday rush? Did you have a ‘to do’ list a mile long and no time to do it? Are you sitting in a pile of dirty dishes, unfolded laundry and unfinished chores? Do you have no idea where to start? Even if you answered ‘yes’ to one of those questions I have a solution for you.

Breathe. Yep, that’s it, just take a deep breath.

Stop everything and just breathe. Give yourself permission to take 10 slow, deep cleansing breaths. You may have to hide in the front closet to get them all in but really shoot for 10 uninterrupted.  Take some deep breaths. Refocus your ‘thinking’ brain by giving it some oxygen.

Who knows? When you revisit the list you may find that the items on it you were trying to balance may not all have to be done exactly ‘right now’. You may just find that acronym HALT like Janet talked about in our last blog is once again interfering.

After deep breathing, it sometimes helps me read ideas from others. Below are several resources that share ideas on how to balance and cope during times you may be overwhelmed.

We would love for you to share your ideas as well. Let us know your tricks for balancing everything you have to get done.

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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Parents: Are you hungry, angry, tired, or lonely?

woman juggling fruitI survived my early years of motherhood with support and advice from some very knowledgeable, and observant mentors.  I still remember and heed their words.  “Take care of yourself so you can take care of others”.  “Years from now, you will never remember having a dirty sink”.  “Motherhood is a marathon, pace yourself”.  “Get enough sleep.  Everything is worse when you are tired.”  Interestingly their advice focused on me, not my children.  The advice seemed to focus on meeting some basic human needs in order to fulfill my role as a parent.

There advice alone wasn’t enough to meet my needs as a parent.  I signed up for a parenting class and I learned about the HALT acronym.  Like the word implies—HALT requires one to stop, pause and think through one’s behavior.    The acronym stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired.   The philosophy of HALT is that when children are hungry, angry, lonely or tired they will be more likely to misbehave and act out.  But I also knew that as a parent I had also experienced the effects of HALT.  When I felt HALT—hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness—I too, became short fused and not at my best.   The technique suggests that parents also “halt” and think about their personal emotional status and wellbeing.

Let’s think about applying the HALT principle to ourselves as parents.

HUNGRY – When we think about hunger, we usually think about how we feel when we are lacking food.  But we can also be emotionally hungry.   We may be hungry for attention, for understanding, friendship, or comfort.  Just as food satisfies our physical hunger, we need social and emotional supports to satisfy our needs.

ANGER – Many of us are uncomfortable at expressing anger and many times it comes out in very unproductive ways—yelling, slamming doors, criticizing, or resentment.  If we have unresolved anger, our relationships with our children suffer.  Physical activity, mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing, breaks, and professional help can all help a parent cope and resolve feelings of anger.

LONELY – Parents can easily find themselves isolated and alone.  It’s important to reach out and interact with other people, especially other parents.  Isolation and loneliness can lead to depression.  A depressed parent will have difficulty responding positively to their children.

TIRED – Parents must often deal with interrupted sleep and many parents ignore tiredness.   Physical tiredness can impact our wellbeing and can leave one vulnerable for accidents and conflicts.  Naps, when possible and going to bed earlier can all be solutions for the sleep deprived parent.  Parents can also experience exhaustion from taking on too much or being overwhelmed from leading overly busy lives.   Solutions that I have tried include:  prioritizing, paring down my expectations of myself, and taking a break.

So the next time you are feeling stressed or you find yourself not enjoying parenthood, consider the HALT acronym.  I’ve found it a wonderful tool to gain insight into my children’s behavior, but even more insightful into understanding my own.

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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Balancing Life and Parenting

Many parents report feeling rushed, stressed and unable to do everything they have to do at work and at home. However, parents don’t have to live with constant chaos if they take care of themselves first. In an emergency on an airplane, the first rule is to put on your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else. Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others. That’s true in parenting, too. Caring for yourself is one of the most important — and most often forgotten — things you can do as a parent.

Join us this month as we will explores way to prioritize parenting responsibilities and avoid parenting stress. We also will share ideas on fun breaks you can take that will refresh your parenting ability.

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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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More than half of us have had ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’

This week we welcome our guest blogger Kristi Cooper, Human Sciences Family Life Specialist.

Sunday Dinner at Grandma’s

I love this quote from the program “Lemonade for Life” – “You can’t rewrite the beginning of your story but you can change how it ends.”

Adverse childhood experiences (ACES) affect a child’s neurological, social-emotional and cognitive development. ACES may eventually manifest in chronic health conditions in adulthood.

I’m part of the 55% of Iowans who have more than one ACE. When I think of the chaotic times in my childhood, I’m grateful for the touch points that kept me ‘on track’. The research on Adverse Childhood Experiences tells us these touch points are called resiliency factors. These resiliency factors include individual capabilities, attachment and belonging with caring competent people and a protective community, faith or cultural process. Let me share a few of these touchpoints from my own life and maybe you can see how resilience can be woven through the fabric of our lives.

I am grateful for the elementary school nurse who never questioned my stomach aches and always had clean dry clothes for me to wear when I had an ‘accident’. I’m grateful for my 3rd grade teacher’s calm, caring approach and the interesting hands-on projects she had us do. She introduced me to creative writing which became an outlet for me whenever I felt life was overwhelming. I’m grateful for my grandmothers who loved me unconditionally and were always interested in me. I’m grateful for the routine of Sunday church followed by dinner at Grandma’s house with its comfort food, safety, hugs and laughter. All of these helped me feel normal and sane when life felt scary.

Spending time outdoors with cousins was an important touchpoint for me. Our many adventures catching tadpoles and crawdads, jumping the bogs in the pasture, riding bikes for miles, building snow forts and climbing in the empty corncrib took my mind away from the hurtful times. Music was another touchpoint for me. I saved my 4-H and birthday money and bought a guitar. With the creative writing gift from Miss Ihnen and my new instrument, I made it through a few more turbulent years.

All of these touchpoints helped to reset my stress response – all it takes is a 20 minute activity to reduce heart rate, regulate breathing again and re-focus the mind. As an adult I use meditation, yoga, journaling and sewing projects to reduce anxiety, keep depression away and help my mind think clearly. I have a therapist I consult when I need to sort things out. I’ve used my early experiences to change how I parented my children, hopefully, changing the course of my grandchildren’s lives. These individual resiliency practices combined with positive social relationships and trauma informed community resources help heal the impact of adverse childhood experiences and to reduce the impact of traumatic events.

What are the touchpoints that help(ed) you survive and thrive?

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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Science of Parenting Adds Texting Option

The Science of ParentingThe 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 text the keyword sciparent to 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. Participants can text their replies, as well.

Let us know what you think…..

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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What is this thing called resilience?

Once people understand what ACEs are they ask “what now?” What’s next is the idea of resiliency. Resiliency allows us to be able to move past the negative consequences of adverse childhood experiences. Resiliency allows us to have hope in the future. Our desire to create resiliency leads us to search for ways to support and help families and communities.

Three powerful ways to create support are tapping into individual capabilities, attachment and belonging with caring competent people and a protective community, faith or cultural process. We know that individuals can lead successful thriving lives despite their ACE score. These three protective factors above are why they can overcome the damage from their ACEs and lead healthy happy lives.

Explore your communities for positive supportive protective systems. What do the protective symptoms look like in your community? Are there places to grow support  your systems?

Share with us your ideas.

Don’t forget to sign up to receive a text when we post new blogs. Text the word sciparent to number 95577.

You can also share your responses with us by texting sciparent and your comments to 95577.

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 Hand Were You Dealt? Happy or Turbulent Childhood?

Four AcesIn many ways life can be a lot like playing cards and unfortunately many of us as children were dealt a hand that was less than ideal and loaded with “ACES” or adverse childhood experiences.  The experiences of our childhoods—both the good and the not so good influence the adult we become.

From our childhood, we develop traits and skills that prepare us to be effective in the world. We also develop the capacity to adapt in the face of challenges.   We call this capacity to respond in a positive way— resiliency.  Resilience is complex; it is possible to be resilient in one setting and to do very poorly in another. It is our ability to bounce back when faced with a variety of challenges.

Research is clear that the effects of negative early childhood experiences don’t end when a child becomes an adult.   The more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) that a child experiences, the greater the risk for health problems, mental illness, and substance abuse as an adult (Felitti et al., 1998). It can be easy to blame your childhood, to get stuck on situations and circumstances that were beyond your ability to change.  We need to learn that one cannot re-write their childhood history but writing your future and your child’s future is possible.    There is hope.  Change is possible.  Communities and families can learn to break the cycle of negative childhood experiences from one generation to the next.

All parents want a better life for their children.  But many parents are not always sure how to create a better life.  Fortunately, early childhood advocates are starting conversations to help parents achieve resiliency and develop a plan for a better life for themselves and their children.  .

There are numerous conversations starting in Iowa around the concept of adverse childhood experiences and creating a resiliency culture for adults and children alike.  I encourage you to reach out and find out what your community is doing.  Get involved!

 

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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Break the Cycle of Childhood Trauma

lonelinessMore than half of us grew up in families that were marked with challenges, but we don’t have to pass those experiences on to the next generation. The cycle can be broken by developing safe, stable and nurturing relationships that heal the parent and the child. The keys to success are developing healthy relationships and building resiliency.

Traumatic, or adverse, childhood experiences can include neglect as well as physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Other family issues that can contribute to a traumatic childhood include substance abuse, divorce, hunger, domestic violence, mental illness and incarceration.

Children who are exposed to many adverse childhood experiences may become overloaded with stress hormones, leaving them in a constant state of fight or flight and unable to focus. They learn adaptive and coping behaviors in response to these experiences.

This month we will discuss ways to build resiliency in children. We also will discuss ways that communities can begin to support all children and families in reducing the incidence and impact of adverse childhood experiences.

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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Autonomy vs Diminished Skills

This week we welcome a guest post from our ISU Extension and Outreach Human Sciences Family Finance partners. If you have additional thoughts or questions we welcome the conversation.

Most days Dad cannot add or subtract or figure out if he has enough money in his pocket to pay for something. I try hard to never say, “NO”, because that leads to reasoning with Dad, and there just is no such thing as a logical discussions when Alzheimer’s is involved. My goal is to make Dad FEEL good. So, Dad now carries a wallet with $30 to $50 in it most days. With the exception of a walk down town to have coffee with the neighbor (who is also in his 80’s and lives with his daughter), dad goes nowhere without me. So, why does Dad need that much money in his wallet? Because, that is what he has ALWAYS carried in his wallet. It is NORMAL for him. It makes him FEEL good. More than once he has lost his wallet and I have always found it…in a pair of pants in the laundry basket or in a drawer in his room. I have no concern that he will REALLY lose it because he never goes anywhere without me. Dad’s wants are few and inexpensive. Having $30 – $50 in his pocket means he never has to figure out if he has enough to pay for something. If I know he wants something that will cost more than he has in his wallet, we swing by the bank and pick up some extra cash so he can manage the transaction without my help.

As Dad’s disease progresses, he gets younger in his mind and in his behaviors. While picking up stuff for our vacation, Dad began grabbing snack items for our trip. He grabbed an armload and ran to the check out to quickly pay for them. Why the hurry? Why not continue shopping with me and we all check out at the same time? As a kid, that behavior would have made Dad ask ME if my money was burning a hole in my pocket. It occurred to me that, HE wanted to pay for these things to share with everyone on the trip. Had he waited and checked out with me, I may have insisted on paying for it all together.  He wanted the joy of being the provider. So, in the future when we shop, I will send him to pick out the fruit and let him pay for it while I take care of the rest of the purchases.

My financial goal with Dad is to keep him safe, secure and happy. I don’t always get it right the first time (At first I didn’t let him carry cash for fear he would lose it), and we all paid the price. The good news is, he has no short term memory so he doesn’t remember my unsuccessful attempt at making him happy. Alzheimer’s always lets me have more than one try at getting it right.  ~Brenda Schmitt

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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