Parenting Children with Special Needs

While recording Season 5 on children’s milestones, I couldn’t help but think about all the parents who listen in and say, “but what if they aren’t?” or “but what if my child never will?” These are hard questions for a parenting educator to answer. As the parent of a child with special needs, I also recognize how difficult it is to be brave enough to ask these questions: the wondering, the worry, the self-doubt, and even the self-shame. I wanted you to hear us say, “We hear you. We see you in the back. We acknowledge that you have questions too”. While every child’s ability is different, and every child’s temperament is different, so are specific diagnoses and conditions. We hope that our short message here gives you the sense that your child is amazing no matter when they reach their milestones (or even if they never will). We want you to know that your parenting journey will need a set of special tools. Most of all, we want you to know that there is more than one way to raise great kids, and you have us to lean on.

Children with Special Health Care Needs (iowa.gov)

Family and Educator Partnership (FEP) | Iowa Department of Education (educateiowa.gov)

Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) – Home Page

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Supporting Children When There is Scary News

We wanted to share a great article written by our fellow Human Sciences Family Life Specialist, Malisa Rader. Thank you, Malisa for allowing us to share your words.

All children are born with a unique temperament. Some will be more sensitive to scary news stories or worrisome about their safety and the safety of their loved ones, says Malisa Rader, a family life program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

“We need to be mindful of what we are watching and discussing when small ears are around,” Rader said, “while also making sure we take time to listen and pick up on cues our child might be sending us. A change in behavior like clinginess or crying might be a signal that your child is anxious over recent disturbing events in the news.”

Parents, teachers and caregivers can help children that are feeling distressed about safety cope with their fears, Rader said. She recommends the following actions:

Keep regular routines. Stick to your normal schedule and events. Children take comfort in predictable daily activities like dinner at the kitchen table and bedtime rituals. Knowing what will happen provides a feeling of security.

Watch your emotions. Parents everywhere are shocked and saddened when children are victims of a tragic event. Children that are sensitive to emotions can pick up on this and become concerned for their own safety or the safety of others. When adults maintain a calm and optimistic attitude, children will also.

Have conversations with your child. Find out what your child knows and what questions he or she would like answered. Young children might express themselves through drawing or in their play. Provide reassurance, clear up any misconceptions and point out to your child the many helpful people in emergency events like law enforcement and medical professionals. Talk with your child about what is happening to make him or her safe at home, school or in the neighborhood.

Limit your TV viewing.  Monitor what is on the television set and for how long. Young children may not understand that scenes repeating on news stations are all the same event. Choose a favorite video to maintain better control over what is viewed by your children.

Find healthy ways to deal with feelings. Taking a walk together, reading a favorite book, or playing a board game can be comforting to both you and your child.

Take action. If your child continues to show concern, he or she may be feeling a loss of control. Doing something such as sending a donation or writing a letter can help bring back a sense of power and help your child feel a part of the response.

Seek professional advice if needed. If your child shows symptoms of distress such as a change in appetite or sleep patterns, speak with your child’s physician or a mental health professional. You can also contact ISU Extension and Outreach’s Iowa Concern hotline at 1-800-447-1985.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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About Those “Easy” Kids

Researchers Thomas and Chess have provided so much information to help parents learn more about how a child’s temperament impacts their behaviors and how they experience the world. We understand that we cannot change temperament, that it will always be an integral piece of who we are, and what we can change is our approach to others.

As we have seen, the nine temperament traits fall into patterns, and we notice that a large majority of children’s temperament may fall into the ‘flexible’ pattern. This pattern may include temperament traits such as easy to soothe, less active, and intense as well as less demanding in general. While this pattern may not cause many parent/child power struggles, it is still important for us to teach this child to raise their voice.

As a flexible child, they may go with the flow and easily agree to others’ ideas. We need to help them be brave enough, use their voice, and say what they need to say! As adults, we need to watch for times when we see them go along with a suggestion even when they don’t want to. We need to protect their right to have their own voice be heard, and perhaps to help them sound their voice!

Giving the flexible child a voice to be heard is just one way to help children appreciate the gifts their temperament provides. What are some other gifts temperament gives our children?

Join us each week as we continue to talk about parenting with temperament in mind.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Temperament Resources

Throughout season 3 of the podcast, we will reference a number of temperament resources! Consider this your “all things temperament” blog post. This may be updated with additional resources as the season continues, and maybe beyond, so keep this page bookmarked!

General Temperament Resources

Books on Temperament

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Talking with children about race and racial bias

Children may be seeing images and videos of protests and violence. They may be hearing loud and angry voices. They may even be part of sad or traumatic events. They may be wondering and possibly even asking really hard questions that we as parents don’t know how to answer.

Lori Hayungs, co-host of the Science of Parenting podcast, takes a moment in a special episode to share some thoughts, strategies, and resources around how to talk with children about race and racial bias. Listen in to find out how we can begin to try and answer those tough questions.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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What Have We Learned

We just wrapped up Season One: Parenting Foundations. Yes, I just said that. It’s hard for us to get our heads around that fact.

When we began talking about the possibility of podcasting about parenting, we had no idea we would actually be wrapping up an official season less than eight months later, let alone doing it via a Facebook Live Event. Above all, we had no idea how much it would mean to us to be able to share parenting research and reality with you all.

We want to take this time to say ‘THANK YOU’. Thank you for taking the journey with us, for encouraging us along the way, and for asking us to keep sharing.

Take a quick listen to our Season One: Parenting Foundations finale as we share what we learned along the way. And be sure to join us for the start of our next season in June.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Enjoy the Joys!

As we get closer to the end of our first season, we find ourselves reflecting on the role of parenting being a tough one. Tough yes, but so worth it as well.

Our research tidbits from one of the largest studies of the joys and problems in child-rearing revealed that by and large, parents get what they hope for out of parenting. In fact, the study also reported that parents reported twice as many joys as problems. On our tough day, THAT is a very reassuring piece of information. Listen in as we also talk about some of the most common joys described by parents.

And don’t forget that next week is our very next Facebook LIVE. We will wrap up our Parenting Foundations during that live and give you a sneak peek into Season Two.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Just Say No to Judgment

My reality is not your reality. But somehow I still want you to think I’m a good parent. Ugh. Parenting can be so hard when we are always WONDERING if others view us as competent. This week’s podcast dives into the judgment zone.

Research tells us that 9 in 10 parents feel judged (90% of moms and 85% of dads). That’s a whole lot of hard feelings folks. Pew Research also tells us that “parents care a lot about how others perceive their parenting skills”. Particularly, their co-parent and their own parents. We want people to believe that we are good parents. It’s important to us.

So how do we take these feelings and acknowledge they exist while at the same time not letting what others think impact our confidence in ourselves and our own parenting decisions? One thing we can do is recognize that when we feel competent in our parenting we actually treat our own child as being more capable and resourceful, and we generally show them more positive feelings.  The reciprocal relationship between our parenting confidence and our belief in our child’s competence is important.

You are reading our blogs and listening to our podcasts because you want to find the tools that fit your family’s needs. Part of what you are doing is looking at and listening to the research we provide and you are applying them to your reality.

THAT my friends should give you confidence. You are looking, listening, and practicing how to fit research into your reality. Keep INVESTING IN the parenting work, many won’t but you are here and your relationship with your child is worth it.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Practice Not Perfect

This week our podcast shares the reality that sometimes as parents we lose our cool. We’ll share how to get back and reconnect with our children after our emotions get the best of us.

A Zero to Three National Parent Survey revealed that 40% of parents reported they wished they could do a better job of not yelling or raising their voice so quickly with their children. Of parents who say they use harsh punishment frequently, 77% share that they don’t think it’s one of the most effective methods of discipline.

Zero to Three also reminds us that sometimes we have a disconnect in our expectations and the child’s abilities. This ‘expectation gap’ may lead to frustration on both the adult and child’s part. The reality here is that sometimes as parents, our emotions become hijacked and our logical thinking goes out the door. When we find ourselves ‘flipping our lid’ it is important that we have tools in our parenting toolbox to regain our self-control.

Two tools that are referenced in this week’s podcast include: mindful parenting (noticing our own feelings, learning to pause, and listening carefully to the child’s point of view) and the 4 A’s of Communication Recovery (accept, acknowledge, apologize, adjust).

Remember, parenting is about our overall relationship with our child- and we talk about practice, not perfection. We know there is no such thing as a perfect parent but we CAN make a plan for how we will reconnect when our emotions get the best of us.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Keys to Cooperation

We hope you were able to join us for our second Facebook LIVE, but if not, we have shared it with you here!

The last several weeks we have been talking about more parenting foundations such as slowing down, defining our parenting styles, managing meltdowns and keeping our head. If you missed any take a quick peek here.

During our LIVE episode we focused on cooperation. We first defined it as a a way to balance our needs with someone else’s. A joint effort. We talked about 4 strategies we can tap into to gain cooperation from our children.

  1. Keep instructions specific and clear. “I’d like you to ______” instead of “Stop it”.
  2. Offer a small choice. “Would you like to do _____ or ____ first?”
  3. Use suggestions versus commands. “You will need a hat” instead of “Put on your hat”.
  4. Use inductive reasoning – which means explaining why you want what you want. “It’s cold outside, you will need a hat. Do you want to put your coat or hat on first?”

And finally, we shared a great guidance tool from the Program for Infant Toddler Caregivers (PITC) by Ronald J. Lally. This tool can be used for children over 18 months of age. I have loved this tool since my children were young and I still use it with my teen and twenty year old!.

We have loved sharing resources and stories around Parenting Foundations and would love to hear from you on how our information has been impacting your parenting. Share here or join us on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Time to Check in With Your Teens – Resource List

Science of Parenting

Relationships

SFP 10-14

4-H

Broad Extension Resources

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Tips and Tools for Living and Working in the Same Place

I wanted to take a quick moment to share a couple of great tools while we navigate these ‘everyone is together all the time’ waters.

Balancing Workplace and Home

First is a great article with four quick tips from our Behavioral Health Specialist Dr. David Brown. In this article, Try to Balance Workplace and Home When Workplace and Home Are the Same, he shares four ways that we can set boundaries between work and home while they both exist in the same space.

  • Setting Boundaries
  • Setting Routines
  • Enjoying the Advantages
  • Accessing Resources

Online Opportunity for Couples

Second I want to invite you to join our Human Sciences specialists LIVE as they share tips, tools and tricks to elevate and improve your adult relationships during this time. For the next seven Wednesdays, 12:30-1:00 p.m. CST via Adobe Connect, specialists will share tools from ELEVATE, a relationship education curriculum developed by the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Network. For more information, see the news article Empower: Helping Couples Take Care of Themselves During COVID-19.

Finding Answers Now

For all things Human Sciences specifically related to times of disruption (like COVID-19), refer to the Finding Answers Now site.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Help we are all inside -TOGETHER! Stop. Breathe. Talk.

As winter begins, those of us here at the Science of Parenting are snuggled deep in our blankets and sweaters. Realizing that most of you probably are too, we decided that it might be a good time to revisit the idea of Stop. Breathe. Talk. With winter break upon us, a multitude of people inhabiting enclosed spaces and perhaps even getting on each other’s nerves.

Full disclosure my children are all at home and currently not speaking to each other for this very reason. I decided that not only could I implement Stop. Breathe. Talk. myself (model it for my children), but I could also actually TEACH them the technique. I realize that yes, my children are teens and are better able to understand and logically (sort of) think through the process, but honestly even when they were younger I utilized the technique as well. It just didn’t have the NAME then. It is always OK to help a child at any age learn to stop and take a deep breathe to help calm them down.

oP Stop. Breathe. Talk.

Stop. Actively recognizing that the situation or current moment has to change. This is a conscious decision to change the direction of thoughts, emotions and behaviors. We just plain recognize that something right this second has to change. And it starts with us.

Breathe. Literally showing them the biggest deepest breathe you can (because they need to SEE you do it) can slow their heart rate (and yours) in a way that can begin to cool down the intense moments.

Talk. Finding and using the calm, cool, collected voice also helps to reduce the tension in the shoulders and jaw allowing the opportunity for our face to show a sense of peace.

Guidance and discipline, when intentionally planned in thought and action, can be effective for your family. Remember to look through our guidance resources on the science of website parenting to see how you can be purposeful with your child. Also check out our resources for parenting teens. In the meantime, Stay warm, and happy holidays!


This blog was originally posted on 1/30/19: Help! We Are All Inside- Together.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Making it ALL happen. Holiday Overload.

A woman stands in front of a white wall with a frustrated look in her eyes as she buries her chin, mouth, and nose into the neck of her sweater.

No matter where you live or what age your children are, the last eight weeks of the calendar year can become chaotic and frenzied. The people around us are hustling and bustling and racing in ways that ultimately rub off on us, even if we don’t share or practice the same holiday festivities. All of that hustling can make us feel like we are on constant overload. I know that I have heard myself literally saying out loud to my children, “We just have to concentrate on the very next thing. Just the very next thing.” 

So how do we cope during the hustle and bustle?

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Yes, literally, just focus on and be present in the very next thing. Stay with it, live in it and by all means enjoy and embrace it if it involves your family, friends and children. Give THAT thing your all. The rest can wait.
  2. Grant yourself grace. Sometimes you need a reminder that everything does not and will not be perfectly orchestrated, designed and produced. Just do what you are able and call it good.  (Let someone else load the dishwasher and do NOT go back and re-do it).
  3. Write a 5 minute break in your calendar day. Set a phone alarm or reminder that forces you to stop for a moment and tell yourself that a short break is A-OK.  Deep breathe and drink a large glass of water. Stretch and give yourself a big hug. And if you happen to do it in front of your child then they will also learn that it is alright to give yourself a moment to ‘just be’.

You don’t have to make it ALL happen. Focus on the present, give yourself grace, and take a moment to practice self-care. Bonus: by modeling this during the busy times of year, your kids will learn this approach, too!

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Grandfamilies 2.0

A tall teenager wearing a suit and tie stands between his grandfather and grandmother, who are looking up at him with pride.

Isn’t that a great word? I’m still smiling typing it. I found it on the AARP website while I was looking for statistics. According to their site, 4.9 million children under the age of 18 live with their grandparents. Thus making them ‘grandfamilies’ . In fact to quote the site, “As increasing numbers of grandchildren rely on grandparents for the security of a home, their grandparents are taking on more of the responsibility for raising them in a tough economy — many with work challenges of their own. For these grandparents, raising another family wasn’t part of the plan. But they step up to the plate when their loved ones need them.”

Grandfamilies, yes that’s a great word for those that are stepping up to take care of family members in need. Celebrate their commitment to family. Share their stories of greatness here.

This blog was originally posted on Nov. 15, 2013: Grandfamilies

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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