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.

More Posts

Overindulging: What’s Best for Our Children?

Young boy (6-7) about to destroy toy car, girl (3-4) crying, mother sitting in armchair

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.

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.

More Posts

Spoiling Grandkids

This week we welcome guest blogger Kristi Cooper. Human Sciences Specialist in Family Life and new grandma.

were grandparnetsI 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.

  1. 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 babyPlay together – Teach a game from your childhood such as kick-the-can or hide-and-seek.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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!

 

 

 

Kristi Cooper

Kristi’s expertise in caregiving, mind body skills and nature education inspires her messages about healthy people and environments with parents, professionals, and community leaders.

More Posts

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!

More Posts

Overindulgence: When too much is too much

thrilled preschooler with confident attitude smiling with mollycoddled kid crown

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

 

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.

More Posts

Receive Text Messages about Science of Parenting

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 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.

Let us know what you think…..

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.

More Posts

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.

More Posts

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!

More Posts

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.

More Posts

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.

More Posts

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!

More Posts

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.

More Posts

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.

More Posts

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.

More Posts

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.

Related Resources

  • Subscribe to the ISU Extension and Outreach Science of Parenting blog for the latest research related to raising kids and teens.
  • Get short, timely messages from Science of Parenting on Twitter.
  • The Science of Parenting blog is available via text message. Text the keyword sciparent to 95577 to be added to our distribution list.
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.

More Posts