…thats the phrase that came to mind when I thought about this week’s blog. Which, when it comes right down to it, I do want my child to be unique. A customized order. An individual. Not a cookie cutter replica of her friends. Having said that, I guess I should then expect myself to parent her as if she IS customized.
While we search for THE right answer to our parenting questions,we really do come realize that there isn’t just ONE right way, not even in a family with multiple children. Parenting is all about understanding each individual unique child and beginning to dance with their customized self. In the moments where parenting is frustrating, I have learned to give myself permission to be frustrated while at the same time learning to appreciate that I have created something unique. Customized. Created by me with input from her, her friends, her neighbors, her community and her world. Taking all those pieces and watching and wondering at the same time.
Sometimes its important as a parent to step back and let the child lead the dance that we have been talking about over the last several weeks. Other times it’s important to be the adult and make the decisions (and follow through). Parenting is a back and forth, leading and guiding and following all at the same time. THAT’s what makes it customizable. It shouldn’t look just like the next door neighbors family, or your own childhood experiences or the tv show on a popular network.
You and your child should customize your world together and enjoy the journey along the way.
How have you customized your journey?
communicating, discipline, parental relationships, parenting, positive parenting, social-emotional
When my oldest child was one year old, I was introduced to the world of ‘Temperament’. I remember thinking at that time, “She’s already 1! Am I too late! What if I already ruined her by not knowing her temperament!?”
It sounds silly now, as she teeters on the brink of 18, but back then all I could think about was the year I had missed BT (Before Temperament). I can tell you this with 100% confidence. It is NOT TO LATE! Learning to understand your child’s temperament, along with your own temperament, can happen at any time. It can happen right now regardless of your child’s age.
This month we talk about taking the time to learn your child’s ‘temperament style’ and then parent according to that style. Parenting is not a ‘one size fits all’. Taking care of any child (grandchild, neighbor, niece, nephew, sibling) isn’t even close to ‘one size fits most’. Building relationships with children means taking the time to learn to appreciate what their genetics granted them, find a way to build their confidence and self-esteem and guide them into social competence.
Where can you start? By learning about their style. By appreciating the unique characteristics of that style. By implementing one thing to show them you understand that style. Here are a couple of GREAT places to start.
ISU Extension and Outreach Understanding Children publications
Lets Talk … Child Care : Temperament
Temperament: Understanding Behavioral Individuality
What is that ONE thing that you will do to parent ‘to their unique style’. Share with us!
communicating, fathers, friendship, grandparenting, mother, parental relationships, parenting, positive parenting, raising teens, relationships, social-emotional, temperament
For the next couple of blogs I was able to sit down with Constance Beecher, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, School of Education and Human Sciences Extension and Outreach. Join us as we converse about children and expanding their vocabulary.
I began by sharing with Dr Beecher that often parents ask, “How much should my child be talking?” or “Is my child using enough language?”
“How can parents help their children? Build a strong vocabulary.” says Dr. Beecher.
Below Dr. Beecher shares about vocabulary development and a vocabulary recipe for success.
Research on the importance of vocabulary development in the early years finds:
- Having a good vocabulary is one of the best predictors of school success.
- Very rapid vocabulary acquisition occurs in the pre-literate preschool in into school age (2,000-3,000 words/year)
- 12th grade seniors near the top of their class knew about four times as many words as their lower-performing classmates.
- Third graders with large vocabularies were about equal to lowest-performing 12th graders.
- Children with speech and language disabilities and from low-income and second language homes have the lowest vocabulary gains.
A Vocabulary Recipe for Success:
- Increase the number of conversations (have more than just short adult to child conversations, allow the child respond back)
- Check for comprehension (ask follow up questions)
- Use strategies to increase breadth (like using big words and synonyms)
- Repeat words and have children practice with you (let them do more than just watch)
We would love to hear how you have added to your child’s recipe for success. Share your tips and techniques here!
communicating, language development, parenting
Conflict between human beings happens. It happens between adults, between children and even between adults and children. So how do we learn to fight fair?
An article I found from the University of Texas at Austin gives some great ideas on how to have conflict in a ‘fair’ way.
Here are some of their suggestions:
- Deal with only one issue at a time: Stay focused on only one topic. Focus on that one issue until you have resolved it agree to disagree. Then move to the next issue.
- Avoid accusations: Like Donna talked about last week, use the ‘I messages’ and talk about how it makes you feel. Refrain from using the word ‘you’ as much as possible.
- Avoid clamming up: Get the issue out. When you stop communicating about what the issue is it can’t possibly be resolved. Shutting down or becoming silent doesn’t make the issue go away. Keep talking. If you need to take a break, do so but commit to coming back and finishing the conversation.
For more suggestions read the whole article from the University of Texas at Austin.
Share your ‘fighting fair’ techniques with us here!
parenting, positive parenting, temperament
When asking children to take out the garbage or to help with the dishes, we may sometimes feel like we are talking to ourselves. Families are busy, but there’s a minimum amount of work that has to be done at home to keep things going, so do we just give up and have the adults do all the work, or do we involve the kids in helping with daily chores?
During August, join us as we talk about the benefits and obstacles to children and youth doing chores.
Podcast: Play in new window
Brothers and sisters can seem to be arch enemies one moment and best friends the next. Or maybe you’ve described it as “can’t live with them, can’t live without them”.
The good news is that while siblings fight a lot, they also learn to resolve the conflicts, this is a valuable social skill that translates well into relationships in school. Fast forward into the adult world with personal and work relationships, and you can readily see how living with siblings is a rehearsal for later life.
During July, we will talk about the benefits and challenges of siblings, stereotypes, and how siblings shape each other’s lives.
Podcast: Play in new window
brothers, family time, parenting, podcast, positive parenting, siblings, sisters, social-emotional
Got your attention didn’t I? Now moms, don’t be mad at me because we can be WAY fun, and trust me I am a really fun mom, it’s just that sometimes I feel like fathers are more fun!
So I was curious. Was I just ‘feeling’ less fun? Or is there was a difference in how mothers and fathers have ‘fun’. Here is what I found.
A summary of Fathers Involvement in Their Children’s Schools shared the following (http://nces.ed.gov/pubs98/fathers/):
- Researchers are in agreement that mothers and fathers interact differently with their children (Parke, 1995).
- Fathers spend proportionately more time playing with their children, while mothers spend a greater proportion of their total time with their children in caretaking activities (Lamb, 1986).
- Because mothers spend a greater amount of time overall with their children, they may actually spend more time playing with them than do fathers, yet caretaking is still what best characterizes their time, while play best characterizes the fathers’ overall time with their children. Fathers and mothers also play differently with their children, with fathers much more likely to be rough and tumble (Parke, 1995; Hetherington and Parke, 1993).
Whew!! I’m not less fun! I just play different than fathers do! I would love to hear how you play and have fun. Whether you are a mother or a father, spending time having fun and playing is so important. Share ideas here!
divorce, education, family time, fathers, grandparenting, mother, play, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional
As I pondered this topic I first thought I would blog about what I mean as a mother to my kids (and what does research say about that key relationship).
Then as I began to search and study I found myself drawn to the information that sent me off into the land of caring for and making decisions for my mother. Although she is young and vibrant and enjoying her recent venture into retirement I found that I already know many people that are facing the many questions I found on the eXtension website.
What I found were so many great questions with fabulous answers in that ‘oh so tough land’ of switching from the role of child to ‘mother’ of our mother/father.
As you enjoy the celebration of a relationship with a ‘mother-figure’ or the relationship of being the ‘mother figure’ please know that there are many resources for you when you become the ‘mother’ of your beloved mother.
I would love to hear your thoughts and ponderings on the role reversal.
education, friendship, mother, parenting
Mom, mommy, mother, mum — a mother by any other name is still a mother. During May, join us to talk about what mothers mean to their children.
We’re looking beyond the Mother’s Day cards and flowers, presents and breakfast in bed. There is more to consider than just the ritualized and commercialized recognition of children’s appreciation and love for their mothers.
We’re taking a look at what science tells us about the importance of mothers. We’ll talk about the types of mothers, the roles they play and the benefits to children. We might even include some of the lessons we’ve learned from our mothers.
Podcast: Play in new window
family time, parenting, podcast
I admit to feeling like I had a play deficit when my children were little. So much so that I used to make myself feel pretty guilty because as an early childhood educator I felt like I should be better at ‘PLAY’. What I discovered is that I just play differently. And guess what. So do you!
We all play differently. I found that I like play that is active or has action. Others like to play board and/or card games that are more quiet. While still others enjoy the make believe and dress up adventures. There is no right or wrong way to play. There is just play. Pure and simple. Play. Play is face to face with the children in your life. Engaging their mind and body while creating strong relationships. Back and forth communication. I guess my message really is don’t over analyze how you play or if you play is good enough or right enough.
Pat yourself on the back, give yourself credit and tell me how you like to play with the children in your life.
education, family time, friendship, grandparenting, language development, play, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional, temperament
Research shows that children who get everything they want grow up to be greedy, materialistic, self-centered adults. However, parents can raise their children to focus instead on internal life goals, such as learning, developing relationships and helping others.
In December, join us as we offer tips for parents on how to avoid overindulging children and learning when ‘enough is enough. Overindulgence
Podcast: Play in new window
education, family time, friendship, podcast, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional
This month we are focusing on how to get the school year started right!
The short podcast gives a few ideas on homework and we are having an evening webinar on Monday the 10th of September to add more ideas to create success! Listen to the podcast and join us on the 10th!
Lori and Donna
Podcast: Play in new window
education, homework, podcast, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional
School is out and now the summer fun begins. But if the kids have two homes, it might not be so much fun. There may be family vacations and family reunions and softball/baseball games and 4-H events and camps and – well you get the idea.
So who decides where the kids will be? Last weekend I was at a baseball game and heard a dad talking about vacations. His family, with kids from different marriages, had a summer trip planned. Then he found out one child’s mom had other plans and her wishes ruled. This sounded like the beginning of vacation wars and not the fun that all had in mind.
Well parents, it’s time to revisit the concept of co-parenting. Now is the time to sit down and talk with your child’s other parent about summer plans. Get out the calendar and pencil in all the events that involve your child. Go into the conversation with the idea of making this work. Share any “absolute” dates and explain why you want your child for that time. Be willing to compromise and not insist on your way for everything. Offer to take your child more frequently or be the “taxi” on occasion.
I know you’re probably thinking – “but you don’t know my ex.” And I don’t! But I do know that kids want to enjoy the summer. They want to spend time with both parents and the extended families. They want to hang out with their friends. They want to just “be” and not find themselves in the middle of arguments over who gets them when.
How do you plan summer schedules when two households are involved? What’s worked for your family?
divorce, positive parenting, social-emotional
A wild ‘Dust-nado’ that sent the town/schools scrambling a few weeks ago and the topic of Divorce made me think about how we cope with ‘storms’ of life.
In a sense we begin coping with all storms the same way. We open our toolbox of what we ‘know’ and begin to apply the skills to the storm. If the storm is small we may have all the tools we need to cope effectively. But as the storm grows we need to be open to allowing others (personal and professional) to help us fill that toolbox with the right tools. You really don’t want to use a hammer when you NEED a screwdriver (well in most cases- HA!).
In the midst of storms it can be difficult for us to determine the right tool to use for the storm we are in because we are in the middle of if surrounded by the yuck and muck. It can be hard to allow others to help us use the right tools – I’ll be the first one to admit I like to solve problems on my own! So I challenge you as I challenge myself – can you let others help you choose the right tool for your storm?
What tools have you found effective for life’s storms? Both big and small?
Here’s a great E-xtension Article
Coping with Stress
divorce, education, money, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional
How parents handle their divorce affects how well their children will adapt to life with mom and life with dad. This month’s Science of Parenting podcast from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach examines what parents can do to help their children live through divorce.
ISU Extension publications
Podcast: Play in new window