101 Ways to Celebrate Your Family: Family Connections & History

Last week, I gave you some hobbies and activities to try in order to celebrate your family and create #greatchildhoods. Want to dig a little deeper? The next step beyond immediate family activities is family connections and family history. These are the ideas that will help parents connect their children to those who came before them and helped to pave the way. Remembering, celebrating, and reflecting on history is a great way to bond with one another across generations!

Ideas in this category included:Parents reading a book with their daughter

1 – Read a book together
4 – Say “I love you” to one another
8 – Visit a relative
26 – Sing old songs
36 – Take cookies and visit an older neighbor or friend
42 – Look at old family pictures
43 – Tell old family stories
49 – Give everyone a hug
52 – Celebrate your heritage
62 – Watch an old black and white movie
68 – Talk to older persons about their lives
72 – Bury a time capsule
73 – Dream about the future
77 – Start a journal
81 – Begin a wisdom list of quotations, sayings, and advice
82 – Fingerprint family and compare and contrast any similarities or differences
90 – Plan a family feast
91 – Write notes to each other in the family
93 – Give a compliment
100 – Create a special events calendar
101 – Enjoy one another

What other ways have you embraced family connections and embraced your family history?

– Adapted from 101 Ways to Celebrate Your Family, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach –

Mackenzie DeJong

Mackenzie DeJong

Recent Family and Consumer Sciences grad and Human Sciences Program Coordinator serving four counties in Northwest Iowa. Background editor and occasional contributor of the "county perspective" for the Science of Parenting blog.

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101 Ways to Celebrate Your Family: Hobbies & Activities

April is national Child Abuse Prevention Month. The national organization Prevent Child Abuse (PCA) America’s theme this year is “Do more of what you love to create #greatchildhoods,” which I LOVE. It embraces the idea of finding a passion – or finding things you enjoy doing – and using them to spend quality time as a family.

In a recent office cleanout, I happened upon a couple of folders with information from 2000-2002. I think the universe pulled me to them. I swear. Inside this folder I found a handout from 2000 entitled “101 Ways to Celebrate Your Family.”

What a perfect fit! This list appeared to help us find some things we might enjoy doing as a family!

This handout is exactly what it says it is – a list of 101 ideas for your family to be engaged in what I narrowed down to three categories –

  • Hobbies and activities
  • Family connections & History
  • Community Engagement

The first category – hobbies and activities – are fun undertakings, some costing money, some cost-free, and some of the items are ones we’d often consider ‘chores,’ but can be made fun if you’re doing them with family. Personally, I think this would be a fun “to-do” challenge for a family to try to cross off all the activities by the end of the year. Or maybe this list will spark other ideas for a to-do list of your own!

This category contains 59 items, so I’ll stop explaining here and let you explore the ideas for yourself:

Family On Cycle Ride In Countryside Smiling At Camera
Family On Cycle Ride In Countryside Smiling At Camera

3 – Turn off the television
5 – Enjoy a ride in the country
6 – Plant a flower garden
7 – Have a garage sale
9 – Bake cookies
10 – Start a “Once upon a time…”story and everyone add to it
11 – Go to a movie
14 – Visit a local museum
15 – Go on a picnic
16 – Fly a kite
19 – Make a homemade pizza
21 – Attend a local sporting event
22 – Go on a bike ride
24 – Jump in a pile of raked leaves
25 – Do homework together
27 – Clean the garage
28 – Go Horseback riding
29 – Take a hike
30 – Visit the library
31 – Play leap frog
33 – Enjoy a concert
34 – Go caroling
35 – Have a banana split party
37 – Go swimming
38 – Play a board game
39 – Roast marshmallows
41 – Experience your farmer’s market
44 – Go to a lake
45 – Lie on your back and watch the stars
7 – Skip up and down your block
50 – Talk about a television program
51 – Plan a concert
54 – Put together a first-aid kit
55 – Blow bubbles
56 – Cook out
57 – Go fishing
58 – Play cards
60 – Go to an airport and watch the planes come and go
61 – Have a scavenger hunt
63 – Gather wildflowers

64 – Splash in the rain
65 – Collect fall leaves
66 – Do your own exercise video
67 – Visit a zoo
69 – Have a band with kitchen pans
71 – Put a puzzle together
74 – Make, repair, paint, or refinish an object that would make your home nicer
75 – Hike on a fitness trail
76 – Watch a sunset
79 – Make a collage with magazine pictures
83 – Rent a movie and eat popcorn
85 – Look under rocks in your yard
86 – Design your holiday and birthday cards
87 – Plan an herb garden
88 – Create a snow sculpture
89 – Go skating
94 – Roll down a hill
95 – Make homemade ice cream
96 – Whistle a song
98 – Draw pictures

Which one are you going to try this week? Look for more ideas on how to connect with your family on our Science of Parenting EVERYDAY PARENTING page!

– Adapted from 101 Ways to Celebrate Your Family, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach –

Mackenzie DeJong

Mackenzie DeJong

Recent Family and Consumer Sciences grad and Human Sciences Program Coordinator serving four counties in Northwest Iowa. Background editor and occasional contributor of the "county perspective" for the Science of Parenting blog.

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Understanding Temperament Helps with Family Relationships

Guest blogger Malisa Rader, Human Sciences Specialist, shares insight on supporting children’s temperament.

 

Childrhomework successen’s temperament develops early in life and is influenced by genetics and experiences. When parents have an understanding of their child’s unique temperament, they can tailor their approach to best meet their child’s needs.

Think about different babies you have held. Some snuggle right in while others are more active in your arms. That’s temperament. The more parents accept their child’s temperament and learn to adapt, the more they create family harmony.

Researchers have found that the main factors contributing to different temperaments include:

  • how strongly children react to people and events.
  • how easily children approach new people or new situations.
  • how well children can control their attention, emotions and behavior.

Parents also must keep in mind their own temperament. For example, if both parents and child react strongly to experiences, a cycle can begin that continues to escalate. But if a parent can remain calm, this will help break that cycle.

Adults can also learn to anticipate issues before they occur and avoid frustrating themselves and the child.

For example, if a caregiver knows a child’s temperament struggles with changes to the daily schedule, the caregiver can plan snacks and breaks on days that might not follow usual routines.

Parents need to continually remind themselves that there are no good or bad temperaments, but work to see a child’s strengths and places where they might need more support.

I offer the following suggestions to support children’s temperament:

  • Note how your child reacts to new and unfamiliar situations. Allow more time for transitions if needed.
  • If a child’s activity level is high, be sure to have extra activities available for times such as waiting at the doctor’s office.
  • Give a persistent child permission to step away from a challenging activity and come back to it at a later time.
  • For a child who is easily distracted, create a quiet place for completing homework.
  • Listen patiently as “high-intensity” children share feelings.
  • Check in frequently with “easy-going” children to stay in tune with their needs.
  • For children whose behavior is challenging, set clear and consistent limits rather than using harsh punishment. Spell out any consequences in advance and make sure that your discipline strategy is fair and is geared to encouraging appropriate behavior.
Mackenzie DeJong

Mackenzie DeJong

Recent Family and Consumer Sciences grad and Human Sciences Program Coordinator serving four counties in Northwest Iowa. Background editor and occasional contributor of the "county perspective" for the Science of Parenting blog.

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Music and Child Development

We’ve talked about music in terms of resilience and mental health – but what other benefits can children gain from experiencing music?

According the Environmental Rating Scales Institute, children can gain language skills, fine motor skills, social skills, balance and coordination, expressing emotions, creativity, a sense of rhythm, and listening skills through music and movement. It can also promote group learning in settings like a small group, child care, or preschool. Awesome things for our kids, right?!

Plus, music can also support cultural diversity for children. According to our publication Supporting Cultural Diversity, which can be found under any age on the Everyday Parenting page of Science of Parenting, music supports cultural diversity through “instruments, music, folk songs, and dances from different countries. Music activities are great activities for building relationships and learning English and other languages. The repetitive nature of songs allows children to become familiar with new words and phrases.”

With all of these benefits related to music, the next question is, “now how do I help my child get all of these benefits?” Well have we got some good news for you – music can be super easy to incorporate into your child’s life. Some simple strategies can include listening to (age-appropriate) music together in the car together, singing your child’s favorite songs before bed, encouraging your child to use instruments (simple ones like maracas for your younger kiddos or having an older child involved in band), or even just having dance parties on the weekends.

Learn more about the science behind music and the child’s brain from our previous blog, Is it Magic? Or is it Music? from guest blogger, Elizabeth Stegemöller, PhD and Board Certified Music Therapist from the ISU Kinesology Department.

After all this music talk, let us know how you incorporate music throughout the day to encourage your child’s development!

Mackenzie DeJong

Mackenzie DeJong

Recent Family and Consumer Sciences grad and Human Sciences Program Coordinator serving four counties in Northwest Iowa. Background editor and occasional contributor of the "county perspective" for the Science of Parenting blog.

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Music and Mental Health

Last week, I spoke of a lyric in a song that sparked an entire blog post. That idea is the perfect lead into what I wanted to write about this week, as May is Mental Health Awareness Month – music as a tool to help regulate emotions and support mental health.

As someone who has experienced both anxiety and depression I know the importance of finding the right outlet for my emotions. Although struggles with mental health are not always solved by practicing self-regulation, oftentimes they help to de-escalate a situation. An individual may choose to go for a run, meditate, or talk to a friend. For me, music helps.

Music is not only about a musician playing the right notes on a staff – it can provoke a physical and emotional response from many that allows movement and reflection. An upbeat song might get you tapping your toe or up out of your seat. A slow song might be just what is needed to drift off to sleep for a brain that is otherwise anxiously analyzing the next day. Songs with good lyrics also can have a strong impact – like last week’s blog post mentioned, a song might encourage you. Sometimes, there’s a tearjerker that helps you process your emotions in a way that you couldn’t on your own.

I can’t forget to mention that it’s not just about listening to music –there is benefit to singing and playing the music yourself. For me, singing a song as loud as possible in the car for is liking writing those thoughts out in a journal for others. I also play the cymbals, and I’m sure you can imagine the physical release that those allow.

Music can help both children and adults regulate their emotions! In place of “Stop. Breathe. Talk.” My tactic in a high-stress situation might actually be “Stop. SING. Talk.” When our littles are crying hysterically, humming a soft tune might help steady their breathing and calm their mind.

Next week, we’ll look deeper into the “science” side of Science of Parenting and discuss more benefits of music and movement for children!

Mackenzie DeJong

Mackenzie DeJong

Recent Family and Consumer Sciences grad and Human Sciences Program Coordinator serving four counties in Northwest Iowa. Background editor and occasional contributor of the "county perspective" for the Science of Parenting blog.

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Music and Resilience

This morning as I was driving to work, I was listening to the new song, “Youth,” by Shawn Mendes and Khalid. The lyrics spoke about feeling hopeless but not letting pain turn to hate, which really hit me in relation to the last few blogs. The words made me think about experiencing situations that might have a negative effect, but then reminding myself “nope, I’m not going to let those feelings overtake me. I’m going to find ways to overcome this.”

Last week, Mackenzie Johnson talked about the research and reality of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), child abuse prevention, and starting at home.

Often, when talking about ACEs, we get the response of “okay, so what now?”. I’ll be the first to admit that when someone asks me this question on the spot, I get a little clammy trying to decide which resource would be the best fit, how to quickly and effectively respond to meet the needs of their situation, and how I can include all of the crucial pieces without oversimplifying. It’s that step of the process in which we help to build RESILIENCE, but the whole process of trauma informed care can feel complex.

Although there are many ways to reach the end goal, the ACE Interface explains that the structure of a successful trauma-informed community is three-tiered in what they call “Core Protective Systems.” Thriving communities support caring and competent relationships (like a positive parent-child connection), and these relationships support individual capabilities such as self-efficacy and self-regulation.

Individual capabilities lead to a sense of security, the ability to regulate emotion, and adapt to social situations, among other things. It gives us the ability to step back and say the words that were echoed in song, as I heard this morning.

Individual capabilities also give us the ability to know which tools work best to help us express self-regulation, like listening to music – but I’ll talk more about that next week.

Mackenzie DeJong

Mackenzie DeJong

Recent Family and Consumer Sciences grad and Human Sciences Program Coordinator serving four counties in Northwest Iowa. Background editor and occasional contributor of the "county perspective" for the Science of Parenting blog.

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Same Girl, Different Year

Recently, I attended a professional Childhood journal entry from 2001development opportunity on the DiSC personality profile, which categorizes you into one of four areas – dominance, influence, conscientiousness, and steadiness (read more about specifics here: https://discprofile.com/what-is-disc/overview/ ). The day consisted of activities that better helped us to understand our personality type, the type of those with whom we work, and how to best interact with one another. According to the assessment, I’m an ‘I’ – which basically means that I try to make good impressions wherever I go, appreciate working with others, and like to… uh…  talk a lot. According to the assessment, I also lack the ability to be organized (who? me? nooooo).

The very next day after this training, my dad handed me a stack of papers he found tucked into a book in the basement: journal entries I had written in second grade. Entries included, but were not limited to:

  • “Things I love to do is draw, decorate, create, write, type, and pretend to teach.”
  • “Iowa state rules!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
  • “My vacation was fun, I stayed over night at my friends house”
  • “I never want to go to jail.”

As I was reading entries written by an 8-year-old me, all I could think was “that is totally me!” I love to draw and design, I work for Extension (where I get the chance to educate), enjoy spending time getting to know others (and appreciate vacations with others around), and I’m a huge Iowa State University sports fan. Lastly, I never want to go to jail – I’m convinced this stems from my fear of disappointing others.

This all got me to thinking –if I have the same personality I did 17 years ago, and we’re getting trained to acknowledge those traits in ourselves and others in the workforce – why aren’t we better at acknowledging the differences in the kiddos in our lives, so we are more equipped to help them succeed? In child development, we often refer to different personality types as ‘temperament.’

I like to think of temperament as a riddle – why do people act, think, and respond the way they do, and how can we make all the pieces fit together? Sometimes I, an emotional, social, person, have to stop and remind myself that my four year-old nephew might not like me demanding him for answers, but rather, might need to let him process while he plays alone with his toys before he responds. For my niece, the ultimate sass master, I can ask her a question and know what to expect (because she is exactly like me).

For more information on temperament and tools to work with a variety of small-but-mighty personalities, check out prior blog posts written by Lori and the team by searching ‘temperament’ in the search bar on our Science of Parenting site.

Side note – I’d love to hear stories of memorabilia you’ve found from your childhood!

Mackenzie DeJong

Mackenzie DeJong

Recent Family and Consumer Sciences grad and Human Sciences Program Coordinator serving four counties in Northwest Iowa. Background editor and occasional contributor of the "county perspective" for the Science of Parenting blog.

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Nutrition and Wellness for Families

Human Sciences Extension and Outreach has three subject areas, including Nutrition and Wellness, which covers a variety of topics from what’s on your plate to food safety to preservation to exercise. Some of these apply to families, some address aging, and some are adult specific.

A lovely domestic scene of a cute little boy with Down Syndrome baking cupcakes with his dad at home in their kitchen. This is an authentic scene using ambient lighting and real people.One of our best tools for nutrition that is available is Spend Smart. Eat Smart.  I know that Barb highlighted it back in July,  but it has so much going on, I wanted to remind you. From the county perspective, it is an easy way to introduce individuals to healthy meal choices and cost saving when I don’t have as much expertise on the topic as the specialists do!

Spend Smart. Eat Smart. is great for anyone who plans, cooks, or eats food. Every recipe on the website follows specific nutrition guidelines and lists the cost per serving. This way, you can make delicious meals that are both good for your family AND your bank account! The site also helps you save money by providing a lesson on unit pricing (and the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. app has a unit pricing calculator!), assisting in meal planning,  as well as other ways. To promote good nutrition, in addition to the recipe following those specific guidelines, the website provides nutrition labels with every dish. There is also a tab to explain what the information on those labels means!

Beautiful African American woman and her daughter cooking in the kitchenI’ve only included a few benefits of Spend Smart. Eat Smart. – so check it out!

On the Science of Parenting website, you can find a link to the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website under the Everyday Parenting tab, and the Nutrition and Wellness for Parenting heading. In including the Nutrition and Wellness for Parenting section, we hoped to narrow down the wide variety of resources available to a few of our favorites that fit parenting more specifically. Perhaps once you go and take a look at what’s available – you’ll end up planning supper for tonight!

Mackenzie DeJong

Mackenzie DeJong

Recent Family and Consumer Sciences grad and Human Sciences Program Coordinator serving four counties in Northwest Iowa. Background editor and occasional contributor of the "county perspective" for the Science of Parenting blog.

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Not Just a Blog Any More…

The Science of Parenting

Throughout the last couple of months, as you’ve visited the Science of Parenting Blog, you may have noticed some changes.

We’ve had many conversations about what we, the Science of Parenting team, want to provide to you based on feedback we’ve received, and the overwhelming feeling was to not just provide blog posts, but also to add a “database” of resources that we commonly use that we can easily refer you, our readers, to. Extension and Outreach employees used to refer to ourselves as “the best kept secret,” which we’ve been trying to combat in the past few years, and Science of Parenting is trying to follow suit by making information easily accessible to all Iowans. With that, we’d like to let you in on our secret…

The Science of Parenting blog is now the Science of Parenting website.

Feel free to take a look around. Ask questions about new resources you find. Let us know if there’s anything you’d like to know more about.

For our avid Science of Parenting blog readers, have no fear. We’ll still be regularly posting research-based parenting information and ideas! The blogs will be integrated into the site and will help us stay up to date with information from the first-person perspective. Throughout the upcoming weeks, each of our contributors will be highlighting the new site design and different resources we have available.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the changes and hope you continue to follow us throughout the upcoming years!

Mackenzie DeJong

Mackenzie DeJong

Recent Family and Consumer Sciences grad and Human Sciences Program Coordinator serving four counties in Northwest Iowa. Background editor and occasional contributor of the "county perspective" for the Science of Parenting blog.

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