Posts Tagged ‘health’

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

November 13th, 2015

woman juggling fruit

I 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

Human Sciences Specialist

Family Life


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How old and when to play?

August 23rd, 2012

When should children begin organized sports?

Good question! Sometimes parents feel pressured to get their children into organized sports at a very young age.

I remember when my 5 year old daughter played soccer for the first time. I wanted it to be fun and something she enjoyed. It was the 4-5 year old age group, and after a couple of wildly amusing practices they had their first game. In the middle of the game she actually kicked the ball for the first time and stopped midfield, looked over at me and gave me the biggest grin and two thumbs up. She was so proud. At that moment another child ran past her and yelled “GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME!”

Yep, my mouth hung open for a moment just like yours did. I can tell you that I literally saw her deflate before my very eyes. Be watchful and wary about when and where you send your children to experience their sport for the first time. Protect their egos and their developing brains.

 Here’s a little info on what child development says young children can ‘handle’.

At the preschool age (3, 4, 5 years old) – children are developing a sense of independence and decision making. They are typically too young for a structured formal organized sport. Their brain development hasn’t yet mastered the ability to ‘lose gracefully’ and they can easily bored and distracted. Not to mention disruptive and frustrated. If we push them to ‘pay attention’ and ‘follow the rules’ we may actually be turning them ‘off’ to the sport in the future. Preschoolers need fun and light hearted experiences with lots of room for goofiness when it comes to sports. 

How might you have handled my situation above?? Are there times that you have had similar experiences?



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It’s still a Happy New Year!!

January 26th, 2012

Sometimes as I start these blogs my mind wanders… then I have to think about what I really wanted to say. I started out thinking I wanted to talk about winter activities for families. Then looked outside at the shining sun and melting icicles and my mind wandered. It wandered to New Years! I started thinking about an article I had read on the eXtension website and wondered “how many families are already frustrated and disheartened with their New Year’s Goals?” So I went back to the article and thought I would share it with you here.

I have excerpted it and added the full link at the bottom. My question to you is this…  Instead of getting frustrated about things that haven’t gone right or things you haven’t achieved… is there something that you and your family can do TODAY to start over with your goals and plans? Tell us here!!! We can help keep you accountable!!

By the way family goals can be a great way to create family togetherness!

Wishing You a Healthy & H-A-P-P-Y N-E-W Y-E-A-R

H – ealth Make health a priority this year. Health should be more than the absence of disease – read on for ideas.

A – ttitude A positive attitude may not cure a disease. However, thinking positive can help you deal with misfortune, make the most of your situation and enjoy life more.

P – hysical activity The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends for adults: “Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. Additional benefits occur with more physical activity. Both aerobic (endurance) and muscle-strengthening (resistance) physical activity are beneficial.”
For more information and for guidelines for children:

P – eople Numerous studies indicate social networks, whether formal (such as a church or social club) or informal (such as meeting with friends), make people less vulnerable to ill health and premature death. Be wary, however, of social support that drains you through people being too demanding or encouraging you to engage in harmful behaviors.

Y- our body Schedule physical checkups as needed: eyes, teeth, mammogram, colonoscopy, general physical, etc.

To find the rest of the article go to:

And just in case you think I don’t really want to know – I DO!!  Is there something that you and your family can do TODAY to start over with your goals and plans? Tell us here! It’s about family togetherness!

Lori Hayungs

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Episode 3: Childhood Obesity

May 1st, 2011

Doug and Mike discuss what parents can do about childhood obesity with Gregory Welk, director of clinical research and outreach for the Nutrition and Wellness Research Center at Iowa State, in this month’s Science of Parenting radio program podcast.

From the The Science of Parenting blogFighting Obesity: Healthy Eating

ISU Extension and Outreach Resources

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Teaching children how to be grateful is a gift that will benefit them throughout their lifetime.

December 18th, 2010

Gratitude, a sense of appreciation, joy, or thankfulness, leads to better emotional and physical health in adults and in children. While the bulk of research concerning gratitude has been conducted with adults, newer research has explored its impact on children.

Studies involving children as young as 10 years of age have shown that children also reap positive effects from being thankful. In one such study, adolescents who were grateful showed greater optimism, greater satisfaction with their family, friends, community, school and self, and an overall positive outlook on their life, including positive thoughts concerning their friends’ and families’ support. Research with older adolescents revealed that gratitude is positively associated with life satisfaction, social integration, and academic achievement, and negatively related to envy, depression, and materialism. Other studies have shown that children who express or acknowledge gratitude sleep better and have stronger bonds and relationships with others; these advantages also correlate with children’s development of competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring/compassion.

On the other hand, research shows that youth who are ungrateful are less satisfied with their lives and are more apt to be aggressive and engage in risk-taking behaviors, such as early or frequent sexual activities, substance use, poor eating habits, physical inactivity, and poor academic performance.

Additionally, studies involving adults consistently show that grateful people are less likely to respond with anger after being hurt by others, have better coping mechanisms, and are more willing to help others than those who are not grateful. Interestingly, studies have shown that some of the positive benefits of gratitude last between 3 and 6 months.

Research has proven that individuals of all ages can learn how to become more grateful. Here are a few simple tasks that can help you and your child practice gratitude:
• write a letter of appreciation for someone.
• make a list of up to five things for which you are grateful (i.e., give thanks at meal time or bed time). Individuals who did this reported having more gratitude, optimism, and life satisfaction, as well as less negative emotions, compared to individuals who focused on things they found annoying.
• keep a journal of daily positive events or blessings. Those who kept a gratitude journal had a more positive outlook than those who did not keep a journal.
• think gratefully by acknowledging all of the positive things in your life. Individuals who focused on the positive occurrences in their lives reported more grateful thinking, gratitude, and happiness.

Because research demonstrates that gratitude is a positive state of mind that can be learned or enhanced, we should regularly focus on the positive occurrences in our lives and teach our children how to do the same. Research has provided us with this gift of knowledge about the importance of gratitude. Therefore, we should count our blessings for this research and pass this knowledge on to our children so they can become physically and emotionally healthier.

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