Season 3 Podcast: All About Temperament

In the third season of the podcast, our cohosts, Lori and Mackenzie, explore the research and reality around temperament – which makes each child (and adult) different. On this page, you’ll find an outline of the season’s content and a brief description of each episode.

S3: Ep. 1Temperament: It’s in Their Nature
How your child reacts is about their innate temperament (or the core of their personality). Learn how working with his or her temperament traits will boost your ability to respond.

S3: Ep. 2 Sensitivity: It Makes Sense
Your child’s reactions to stimulus such as loud noises and bright lights are completely predictable. Use your powers of observation to help you guide their reactions to stimulus.

S3: Ep. 3 Intensity: (Maybe) Not So Calm and Collected
Did you know taking a drink of water or cracking a silly joke can prevent a meltdown? Discover these tricks to helping kids keep their cool.

S3: Ep. 4 Persistence: Celebrate It!
Have a child that gets super-focused and frustrated when asked to switch tasks and loves to “do it myself?” Learn how to support and embrace their persistence (and maybe even quiet your own frustration).

S3: Ep. 5 Activity: It Takes Energy
Do long car rides give you pause because of fidgety kids? Or maybe vacation days when the kids are dragging due to too many activities? Learn to strike a happy medium by doing a deep dive into how natural energy affects behavior.

S3: Ep. 6 Temperament and Sleep ft. Macall Gordon
Our experts dish on how temperament affects the way our kids catch their ZZZs. Featuring Macall Gordon.

S3: Ep. 7 Adaptability: My Way or Another Way
Adaptability takes shape in numerous ways. For kids who are planners, it’s following a schedule and setting them up for change. And for the adventurous types, it’s giving them a long leash to explore. Try these tips to tap into your child’s natural reactions.

S3: Ep. 8 Distractibility: It’s in the Details
Did you know simple tricks like making eye contact, written notes and clear commands can aid in your child’s concentration levels? Try out some of our pro tips to help his or her focus (and maybe even your own).

S3: Ep. 9Approach: Caution or Curiosity
Does your child approach a new situation carefully, or do they jump in feet first? Lori and Mackenzie discuss how quickly your child might leap based on their temperament.

S3: Ep. 10 Temperament & Difficult Behaviors
Study these six basics to determine how you can develop an action plan for a child with difficult demands. Plus, how to determine if you need to call in the pros for help. Featuring Dr. Sean McDevitt.

S3: Ep. 11 Regularity: Got Rhythm?
Although we cannot always control our children, we can influence their environment. Find out how temperament impacts pivotal moments throughout the day.

S3: Ep. 12 Mood: Silly or Serious?
Work through your child’s moodiness (hello whiny toddler or aloof teen) by focusing on the positive through your words and actions.

S3: Ep. 13 Fearful Temperament: Shy or Slow-to-Warm? ft. Rob Coplan
Learn how taking small steps and embracing a lifelong approach can help alleviate stress for kids who are shy.  Featuring  Robert Coplan.

S3: Ep. 14 Flexible Temperament: About Those “Easy” Kids
Many children are go-with-the-flow types, but these kids have specific needs, too. Learn how to teach them how to express their own voices to create their own break-out moments.

S3: Ep. 15 The Spirited Temperament ft. Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
Check in with author and expert Dr. Mary Sheedy Kurcinka on her best tips for parenting spirited and feisty kids and learning to love their energy.

S3: Ep. 16 Temperament: The Big A-Ha
In this season finale, the cohosts summarize the temperament season and share a-ha moments along the way.


You can also find a list of the resources mentioned in these podcast episodes here.


Remember you can listen to these episodes (and others) on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app! You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter @scienceofparent. Or send us an email with a specific parenting question: parenting@iastate.edu

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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Season 2 Podcast: Parent Self-Care

In the second season of the podcast, our cohosts, Lori and Mackenzie, explore the research and reality around the superpowers of self-care as parents. On this page, you’ll find an outline of the season’s content and a brief description of each episode.

S2: Ep. 1 – Being Both a Parent and a Person
Being a parent is just one “hat” you wear – you are still a person with your own needs. See what the research says about different ways we can practice self-care.

S2: Ep. 2 – Getting After Stress
Flip the switch on stress by learning how to gain resiliency. Learn how to pull stress apart—it might be as easy as switching to paper plates.

S2: Ep. 3 – Accentuate the Positive
Do you know your strengths as a parent? Check out our 12 characteristics to discover your parenting strengths, then learn how to make a plan for utilizing them.

S2: Ep. 4 – How to Find Balance
Discover these three strategies for learning how to find the right household balance for today—and tomorrow.

S2: Ep. 5 – Define Your Philosophy
Parents influence and define the character and values of their kids—and as a result how they behave as adults. See how these traits can help you shape your kids’ behaviors, whether it’s an emphasis on hard work, independence or creativity. 

S2: Ep. 6 – Embrace Your Support Network
Everyone’s support system looks different when it comes to their relationships, especially when it comes to parenting. We’ll talk specifics of your support system in our judgement-free zone.


Remember you can listen to these episodes (and others) on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app! You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter @scienceofparent. Or send us an email with a specific parenting question: parenting@iastate.edu

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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Season 1 Podcast: Parenting Foundations

In the first season of the podcast, our cohosts, Lori and Mackenzie, explore the research and reality around common parenting questions related to children’s behavior. On this page, you’ll find an outline of the season’s content and a brief description of each episode.

S1: Ep. 1All Things Parenting
Have parenting questions? Our Human Sciences experts—­moms with kids from babies to young adults—are here to help with all your parenting needs.

S1: Ep. 2 It’s Not About Being Perfect
The balancing act of parenting isn’t always easy. Our pros dig into the latest research and current realities facing today’s families.

S1: Ep. 3 Take a Break and Take a Breath
Use our stop, breathe, talk approach to help your kids (and yourself) keep emotions in check.

S1: Ep. 4 Slow Down
Help kids gain self-awareness and minimize emotional outbursts with our favorite technique to keep stressful situations in check.

S1: Ep. 5 Defining Parenting Styles
Are you tapped into your kids’ feelings or wanting to always be in charge? Our experts dish on a few parenting types.

S1: Ep. 6 How to Manage Meltdowns
Do you know what is contributing to your child’s meltdowns? Learn tips and tricks on how to anticipate and prevent some of the stress!

S1: Ep. 7 In the Heat of a Meltdown
Fill your parenting toolbox with techniques for when emotions are high to help move kids from meltdown to calm down.

S1: Ep. 8 Keys to Cooperation
What does it take to get cooperation from our kids? We discussed this and more LIVE!

S1: Ep. 9Practice, Not Perfect
Have a plan to manage your emotions using the 4As of communication: accept, acknowledge, apologize, adjust.

S1: Ep. 10 Just Say No to Judgement
Criticism can get the best of us as parents (and people). Learn to trust yourself as the expert of your own family.

S1: Ep. 11 Enjoy the Joys!
Celebrate the journey of parenting by focusing on the good stuff. Embrace your child’s unique personality and his or her evolution as a person.

S1: Ep. 12 What Have We Learned
In this season finale, we went live on Facebook where we discussed the first season of The Science of Parenting podcast, parenting foundations, and what we have learned!


Remember you can listen to these episodes (and others) on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app! You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter @scienceofparent. Or send us an email with a specific parenting question: parenting@iastate.edu

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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Changes to CDC Milestones

With the recent changes to the CDC’s milestone checklists, we know that some parents have had questions about what changed, why they changed them, and what it means for their family. We will give you the overview here, but check out our bonus podcast episode to get more in-depth answers and information!

What happened?

  • In 2004, the CDC’s Learn the Signs. Act Early. program developed free milestone checklists that included developmental warning signs, messaging to “act early” to addressing concerns; and developmental tips/activities. These materials were developed to help parents recognize typical development, improve conversations between parents and professionals about a child’s development, and support developmental screening at recommended ages and additional screenings when there are concerns. 
  • In early 2022, the Center for Disease Control released changes to these long-standing Developmental Milestone Checklists. The purpose of these checklists has always been to help doctors and parents keep an eye on children’s development and to facilitate ongoing conversations between doctor and the families they serve. It’s not an official screening tool that would be used to help determine if a child would qualify for additional services or therapies – it’s a starting point for a conversation between doctors and families!
  • The changes made to these checklists were based on research and recommendations of an expert working group from the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to the article that group published in the peer-reviewed journal, Pediatrics, “The goals of the group were to identify evidence-informed milestones to include in CDC checklists, clarify when most children can be expected to reach a milestone (to discourage a wait-and-see approach), and support clinical judgment regarding screening between recommended ages”

What are the changes/updates?

  • The updated checklists no longer list a milestone at more the one age (this caused a lot of confusion before)
  • Eliminated vague terms like “children may begin to…”
  • Removed the “warning signs” section on each checklist
  • Direct citations to research studies that support them (yay!)
  • Based on more studies that look at development from more diverse and cross-cultural groups
  • Added a checklist specifically for the 15- and 30-month ages (as these are common ages for well-child checks in America that previously did not have a milestone list associated with them)
  • Suggestions for open-ended questions for doctors to use with families
  • Finally, the biggest change – moving the milestones to the age where 75% of children would be expected to achieve the skill. This was a change from the previous standard of 50%. In most cases, this meant moving milestones back to a slightly older age.

Why did they make these changes?

  • The change from 50% to 75% has some people confused or frustrated, so let’s start with some of the reasoning provided for this change. According to the article in Pediatrics, there were several justifications for it.
  • When the milestone was listed at the age when 50% of kids could do a task, doctors often would tell concerned parents to just wait and see because some kids simply had to be in the later half. This experience often left parents unsure and unheard. On the flip side, pediatricians knew that waiting until the age where 90% of children could do the task would likely delay the opportunity for children who do have a developmental concerns to get a diagnosis or support services. Therefore, the team landed on 75% as a benchmark to balance these two things.
  • These new checklists can also prevent worry for children older than the average age of attainment of a milestone but not likely to be at risk for delays (aka late bloomers)
  • In a direct quote from the article, authors said “[the previous checklists provided] insight into typical development but [did] not provide clarity for parents, pediatricians, and other early childhood professionals  about when to be concerned or when additional screening might be helpful
  • Another change that people had a lot of questions about was why crawling was removed from the checklists. According to the article in Pediatrics, the age range varies greatly for this milestone, and some typically-developing children never crawl at all.
  • A common misconception was that this move was related to the pandemic, but the criticisms, the thought process, and the planning were underway to make these changes long before the COVID-19 pandemic occurred. (Fun fact: I actually wrote a paper in graduate school on developmental milestones, and I read papers criticizing the original milestone checklists that were published in 2007, 2013, and 2019.)

What’s this mean for you and your family?

  • Continue to have conversations with your family doctor about your child’s development. If you have concerns, share them with your doctor. Keep trusting your parenting instincts when things don’t feel right. If necessary, build your skills for assertive communication and advocating for your child!
  • Download the CDC’s Milestone Tracker app, and answer the questions related to your child’s age. You will answer Yes/Not Sure/Not Yet to specific questions about your child, and then you’ll get follow-up feedback. You can use this tool to communicate with healthcare professionals or therapists you may work with.
  • Keep engaging with your child in through conversations, play, and simple daily routines!

The majority of the content referenced in this episode can be found in this American Academy of Pediatrics journal article – they also have a short video abstract from one of the authors you can watch. https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/149/3/e2021052138/184748/Evidence-Informed-Milestones-for-Developmental

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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Revisiting ‘Missing Out on the Big Moments’

Earlier this spring, when the word “pandemic” was still relatively new to our vocabulary, our team released a bonus episode on Missing Out on the Big Moments. We were hearing about the emotional toll that missing out on events and rites of passage was having on our kids. Now, several months down the road, this concept of missing out because of COVID is a common experience for kids and adults alike.

In the midst of a pandemic and the holiday season, the research around “missing out” and family rituals from this episode is still incredibly relevant. In this episode, you hear our co-hosts define rituals as events that are symbolic, emotionally affective, and having meaning across generations. Many of the holiday traditions families practice meet this definition! We know that tough conversations and emotions can be apart of our family interactions during the holidays in this pandemic as we all try to adjust.

In this episode, you’ll hear about ideas to adjust family rituals. Even if you already heard it this spring, we hope you’ll consider listening with a new perspective. Now that we have been in this pandemic a little longer you may have new insights and questions. Also, you may want to focus more on your own emotions around adjusting these family rituals.

Please join us in revisiting the topic of Missing Out on the Big Moments by examining research around family rituals!

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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How to Navigate Making COVID-19 Decisions

I don’t know about you folks, but I have been exhausted lately. Getting ready to go back to school, navigating new expectations and norms, and living in a pandemic all adds up. On top of all of that, as parents, we are constantly making decisions for our families.

  • “What should we eat this week?”
  • “When is the last time my kid has a bath/shower? Do they need one today?”
  • “What is our family expectations around living in a pandemic?”
  • “What are we going to change in our school routine this year?”
  • “Am I going to pick kids up first or try to run this quick errand?”

My brain feels like it is continuously ON, trying to make these decisions that range from tiny to enormous. The Science of Parenting team is guessing that you’ve maybe been feeling this way too. The back-to-school transition is already kind of hectic, but adding the layer of a pandemic has made it a whole new ballgame. So we’ve put together a bonus episode on Decision Making and the Back-to-School transition. We talk with Dr. David Brown about the continuum of stress for families in this pandemic, we explore parenting decision-fatigue, and we talk about specific strategies for reducing that exhausting feeling of stress and decision-fatigue.

We also share some important resources for parents like you. Check out the bonus episode as well as the links below.

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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It’s Okay to Ask for Help if You Need It

The last few months, we have focused quite a few blogs on parenting amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope you have found our tips and strategies helpful so far. However, we recognize that some parents and children may still be feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you feel like tips and strategies are enough to get you through the feelings of anxiety, stress, and uncertainty.

We all have different challenges, obstacles, opportunities, and resources during this time so it is natural that we would each have a different reaction to that. Our team at The Science of Parenting wants you to know that however you are feeling is okay. Like I tell my preschooler, I also remind myself and YOU that it’s okay to have “big feelings” or little feelings about all that’s going on around us. But I also want you to know that if those big feelings are overwhelming there is support available! It’s good to seek extra support when we need it – in fact it’s essential to our parenting. In Iowa we are fortunate to have hotlines and resources that are available 24/7.

If you need additional support during this time Iowa Concern, offered by ISU Extension and Outreach, provides confidential access to stress counselors and an attorney for legal education, as well as information and referral services for a wide variety of topics. With a toll-free phone number, live chat capabilities and a website, Iowa Concern services are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week at no charge. To reach Iowa Concern, call 800-447-1985; language interpretation services are available. Or, visit the website, https://www.extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern/, to live chat with a stress counselor one-on-one in a secure environment. Or, email an expert regarding legal, finance, stress, or crisis and disaster issues.

211 is a free, comprehensive information and referral line linking Iowa residents to health and human service programs, community services, disaster services and governmental programs. This service is collaborating with the Iowa Department of Public Health to provide confidential assistance, stress counseling, education and referral services related to COVID-19 concerns.  

We hope you will seek the information or support that suits you best at this time. Please take care of yourself so you can continue to care for your children. If you have questions for The Science of Parenting team, you can email us at parenting@iastate.edu.

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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How To Talk with Kids about COVID-19

We are parenting in an unprecedented time, and that means our kids have unprecedented questions and concerns. Knowing how much to tell them is seriously tough. What is appropriate to tell my three year old? And what am I supposed to tell my school-ager who wants to go over to a friend’s house? And how do I talk with my teenager about all rumors they have heard floating around?

Well at The Science of Parenting we focus on sharing research-based information that fits your family. So we have put together some trustworthy resources that guide you in having these tough conversations with your kids. Check them out below (and look for more information on our COVID-19 webpage for parents).

Centers for Disease Control and PreventionTalking with Children about Coronavirus Disease 2019 General tips for talking with our children based on the most current facts we have about the pandemic

Department of Family Science from the University of Marylandthese pages provide parents with specific questions to ask and words to use based on your child’s age.

Zero to Three Answer Your Young Child’s Questions about Coronavirus
This website provides specific language parents can use to answer questions that young children may have.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (free download of PDF on the right side) – Talking with Children: Tips for Caregivers, Parents, and Teachers During Infectious Disease Outbreaks
This resource looks at how children of different ages may be reacting to the outbreak and provides tips for talking with each age group.

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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Guilt Free Routines

Routines – this word may make you feel confident or queasy. Simply put, Wolin & Bennett back in 1984 defined family routines as “patterned interactions that are repeated over time”. Those things we do regularly because we have to do them and often don’t give too much thought to. Notice this definition is NOT saying routines is about having strict schedule of your day in thirty minutes increments. (Though if having a schedule is helping you – more power to you!) Routines are simply about the parts of your day you can do with some continuity to create some consistency for your kids. This could include things like bedtime, mealtime, wake up times, or even watching television or chatting with a relative.

It’s okay if your normal routines are totally out of whack right now. All of us (parenting included) are processing a lot around what’s going on with COVID-19, and disrupted routines is a very normal part of this stress. I tend to fall into the group of parents who enjoys regular routines (which is DIFFERENT than a strict schedule – more on that in the podcast), but Lori shares that sometimes the conversation around routines have made her feel guilty. Her natural temperament is a little more spontaneous and flexible, while mine tends to be more regular. Another consideration for this difference is that my kids are younger and Lori’s are older… This is just one more example why, at The Science of Parenting, we talk about a pluralistic approach to parenting, which basically just means that we believe there is more than one way to raise great kids.

Routines are ONE TOOL in our parenting toolbox. For me, having some regular routines provides me and my kiddos some feelings of consistency and normality around bedtimes, mealtimes, and wake times in the midst of the chaos with COVID-19. For Lori, she shares that the one routine she has chosen to focus on is wake up time. Both approaches are great, and even small routines can help provide some comfort and consistency to our kids.

An example from awhile ago when I used routines as a tool for my parenting is about a year ago when we were having battles and meltdowns every day when it was time for sleep. I mentioned it to my good friend Lori (ironic, I know), and she suggested maybe developing a little sleeptime routine and visual plan could help smooth the process out. Developing some consistency of what my daughter could expect at bedtime and nap time helped reduce the disagreements!

So if you are feeling like you are floundering around during this unprecedented time, consider if developing (or revisiting) some simple routines of comfort for you and your family could help you feel better. If it feels overwhelming to you to tackle lots of routines at once, it’s great to even just start with one. Remember to give yourself some grace during these unprecedented time. You are the expert on yourself, your kids, and your family, only you know what’s best for all of you during this time. You’re doing great work.

Hear more about the research and reality on routines in our bonus podcast episode.

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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Take a Break and Take a Breath

Were you able to join us for the very first LIVE podcast from The Science of Parenting on Thursday?! We talked a little more in-depth into our favorite parenting strategy – Stop. Breathe. Talk. If you are unfamiliar with this strategy, we have several blog posts you can look at:

As you can tell, we think taking the time to stop, take a breath, and think about how you want to proceed before you talk, is a great strategy for intentional parenting! But does the research back it up? YES – in fact, a 2014 study from Hurrell, Hudson, and Schneiring has demonstrated that parental reactions to children’s emotions play a role in the development of children’s emotional regulation.

In other words, the way WE, as parents, react and interact with our child during a heated or challenging moment plays an important role in our children’s emotional development. What we model for them in terms of how we handle our own emotions affects how they will learn to handle their own big feelings.

Now there are plenty of times when my own “big feelings” get ahead of me in a tough moment. I do not get it right every time! But I tend to do better when I remember to Stop. Breathe. Talk. It just gives me the chance to get out of my own emotions and slow down. The breath helps reset my brain so I can think a little more clearly. And then, after I’ve calmed down a little, I can speak to my child in a way that I intend to.

Learn more about our Stop. Breathe. Talk. strategy by watching or listening to the recording of our Live broadcast!

You can subscribe to us on any podcasting app to tune in to our weekly episodes, or keep an eye on Facebook or Twitter to make sure you stay caught up.

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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Talking to Your Kids Who Are Missing Out on Big Moments

With all that’s going on to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many important events have needed to be adjusted, postponed, or even cancelled. Some of these events may be things that we and our kids, have been looking forward to for quite some time.

I’ve seen countless stories on social media about kids and parents alike who are sad or frustrated about events getting cancelled – like prom, commencement, family reunions, state level sports competitions, weddings, the big spring theater production, holiday gatherings, and other “rites of passage”. These big feelings associated with missing out are completely understandable and valid!

Part of the reason we have these big feelings about this is that many of these events would meet the research definition of a ritual. According to a literature review by Fiese and colleagues, rituals are defined across three important characteristics. They are…

  • Symbolic – rituals are a representation of “who we are”. (In other words, the event’s meaning may be more about what it represents than what we actually do during it).
  • Enduring and affective – rituals create an emotional and impactful memory that we can look back on.
  • Meaningful across generations – Rituals give us something to look forward to that those before us and after us will also participate in.

When we look at the event cancellations that have left us with shoulders dropped and tears in our eyes, we may find that it’s because they are tied to an important ritual or rite of passage. Our kids may have been looking forward to a ritual like walking across that stage at graduation – it represents an accomplishment and transitional phase in their life; it is a significant event that has an emotional impact; and it is something that parents, siblings, friends, and additional generations take part in.

It’s completely understandable that parents and kids alike are having big feelings about these unexpected changes. As adults, we recognize that while it may be disappointing to miss these events, that we will be okay in the long run. Hopefully we are using healthy coping strategies to adjust to these changes. However, our kids don’t necessarily have the same skills that we do, so it’s important to help them navigate these cancellations and adjustments.

Here’s four steps for helping your child navigate tough feelings of disappointment or frustration about cancellation of these rituals:

  1. Find out what “rituals” or big moments specifically your child is reflecting on. There may be different events that are more important to them than you might realize. Maybe they care more about missing out on senior activity day than about prom. (Hint: that’s okay!)
  2. Ask how they are feeling about it, and then accept and acknowledge those feelings. Some kids might feel anger, disappointment, frustration, sadness, or even relief about events getting cancelled. Whatever it is they are feeling – that’s okay. Listen to your child, and try to avoid dismissive statements like “there are way worse things in the world”, “suck it up”, or “it doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things”. While some of these statements may have some truth to them, it is not very helpful or supportive. Instead, try to focus on statements like “it’s okay to feel _______”, “I know this is something you were looking forward to”, or “this is really hard”.
  3. Provide some extra attention, talk about concerns, and provide the factual reason why the big moment was cancelled or postponed. Gently remind your child of the factual reasons why the event was postponed. Also remind them that it’s not their fault, or your fault, or the school’s fault. Try to give them the extra time to express their concern or frustration.
  4. Think creatively about how we can still create some of those feelings associated with this big moment or ritual. Think about how you can use your knowledge of the definition of rituals to still create a special memory, even if it looks different than originally planned. Maybe you can reenact the moment, do something virtually, commit to celebrating at a later date, or even asking your child what they’d like to do instead.

To gain a broader understanding on rituals and the impact of missing out, please listen or watch The Science of Parenting’s mini episode, “Missing Out on Big Moments.”

Watch the video:

Or Listen (also available on most podcast apps, including Apple and Spotify!):

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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It’s Not About Being Perfect

As you might know, The Science of Parenting loves to look at research and reality. We believe parents should have access to trustworthy information, and they can use that information to make decisions about what’s best for their unique family. Where the challenges sometimes come in is actually FINDING that research-based information. Who can you trust to give you unbiased information?

Research by Bernhardt & Felter confirms that parents consider information gathered from a university or medical professional to be more trustworthy than commercial sites, and we tend to agree. However, this same study mentions that parents are using commercial sites at a high rate! These commercial sites might be blogs or even companies that sell children’s products. So even though we don’t think it’s the most reliable source of information, we are sometimes still going to those places to get information.

Why are parents doing this? If you ask me, I think it’s because often times, those commercial sites are simply easier to find. They often come up on the top of the search engine list. I also think it’s because sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Maybe we looked for information in more trustworthy places and simply couldn’t find any answers. Or sometimes it comes down to needing something – support, advice, information, etc. – because sometimes we feel desperate as parents. Even if it’s not ideal, sometimes SOMETHING is better than NOTHING. No judgment here – I’ve absolutely been in the place where I just need something to help me.

We explore this exact topic in our second episode of The Science of Parenting podcast, and we also share four strategies to help you find trustworthy information!

You can subscribe to us on any podcasting app to tune in to our weekly episode, or keep an eye on Facebook or Twitter to make sure you stay caught up. And don’t forget to join us LIVE on Facebook on March 26 at 12:15 P.M. as we talk about our favorite strategy – Stop. Breathe. Talk!

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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Parenting in the Midst of COVID-19

If you’ve been following us, you know that our passion is providing parents like you with research-based information for your family. With concern around COVID-19, we’ve identified some trustworthy resources to help you navigate this ever-changing situation.

Watch our “Parenting Through COVID-19” Podcast video:

Or Listen (also available on most podcast apps, including Apple and Spotify!):

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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Dive Into All Things Parenting

Did you see it?!

We launched our new podcast! If you’ve been following The Science of Parenting for awhile, you know that we like to look at things with a lens of R&R –and while we think rest and relaxation is important, we are talking about RESEARCH and REALITY. And that’s exactly what our podcast focuses on: looking at parenting research and exploring how it’s been relevant to our own family realities.

We think parents like you should be able to find trustworthy information when you want it. Research conducted by Zero to Three (2016) tells us that parents need and want information and support. The report says found “80% of parents work to be better parents, and 69% of parents say if they knew more parenting strategies, they would use them. Despite this motivation, however, almost half of parents say they aren’t getting the support they need during times of stress.”

The Science of Parenting team wants to help you find the support they need in times that you need it! This is why we put together a resource website, write blogs, and now have a podcast: we are working to give you easier access to research-based, trustworthy information that you can use to make decisions for your own family.

We are also so excited that podcasting gives us an opportunity to share a little bit more of our own REALITY as parents with all of you! So join us on this new adventure to help get trustworthy, non-judgmental parenting information in your hands (and ears).

You can subscribe to us on any podcasting app to tune in to our weekly episodes, or keep an eye on Facebook or Twitter to make sure you stay caught up. And don’t forget to join us LIVE on Facebook on March 26 at 12:15 P.M. as we talk about our favorite strategy – Stop. Breathe. Talk!

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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When Should I Allow My Child To Start Dating?

Daughter stands next to her mother who is shaking hands with a potential boyfriend of the daughter.

In the month of February, we are looking at relationships. We’ve looked at our co-parenting relationships, and now we want to look at when our kids are looking at dating! Last week we looked at having realistic expectations, and now we want to know about the age-appropriateness of dating. This is a common question for parents – so let’s look with a Research & Reality lens.

RESEARCH:

  • Kids younger than age 14 years do not have the social skills needed for dating. Early dating often leads to problems. Often kids learn about dating relationships from TV and movies that don’t show appropriate dating relationships. Young people will likely act in ways they see portrayed, rather than develop a healthy relationship with the other person.”
  • Youth spend less time with same-sex friends. Same-sex friendships help kids learn many skills about getting along with others that they may not develop in a dating relationship.”
  • Personal identity is not formed. Most youth do not know themselves well, what they like and dislike, and their own values. Such self-understanding is required in order to relate in a healthy dating relationship. Youth who do not know what they want or should expect in a relationship may be too easily talked into behaviors for which they are not yet ready. Young dating partners may become too close too quickly, which may keep them from maturing emotionally.”

REALITY:

The reality is, every child develops (physically, socially, and emotionally) at different rates. Only you, your co-parent, and your child can make the decision about what’s best for your family! Other factors that may influence your decision could be your family values, your child’s temperament and maturity, and your personal comfort level. Also understand that youth vary greatly in their wishes to be in dating relationships. There is nothing wrong with youth who have no interest in dating.

Here’s a few tips you can use in your own family –

  • Encourage group activities. By sixth or seventh grade, it is appropriate for youth to sit with their friends of both sexes at ball games or other events.
  • Discuss the reasons for not allowing your child to date. Choose a time when both of you are calm and can listen and discuss wishes, values, and rules.
  • Be firm if your child continues to pressure you. You can say, “I love you and the answer is no.”
  • Encourage your child to be active in school and community activities and to identify a hobby that interests him or her.
  • Stay involved. Know where your child is and what he or she is doing. Unsupervised time can lead to trouble.

Get more information to help inform your conversation about dating in our Parenting in Challenging Moments – Teen section!

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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