Good Enough?

As I thought about children and sports this month I want to share something I overheard.

A young child was working on a new physically challenging skill. He was working and working and working so very hard. Finally SUCCESS!!! HE DID IT! He was so proud I swear he grew 4 inches right in front of my eyes! “I did it I tried my best and I did it!”

The older sibling overheard the exclamations of joy and in a grown up voice replied “It’s never our BEST, there is always room for improvement”.

SILENCE…….. DEFLATION………   end of working on skill.

Isn’t there a time when we really have done it ‘good enough’ to celebrate? Can’t we just stop and celebrate the moment and say “We did our best and we succeeded!” As we continue with children and sports this month, think about really allowing your child to celebrate the moment of their own personal success.

We ALL have to start somewhere and not all of us are going to be Olympians. Besides – without those of us having OUR OWN personal best, their would never be Olympians who we encouraged to be their best.

How have you celebrated personal bests with your child?

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

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 Did You Work On Today?

You just picked your kid up from volleyball practice or your teen is home from an early morning football scrimmage. With the beginning of a new school year just around the corner, practice for fall sports is already in full swing.

You’re curious about how things are going but Cassie is texting a friend or Jonathon is ready for a shower and nap. What’s a parent to do? How can you be supportive but not overly involved?

Most kids need a little down time after a practice or game. Then over a snack or meal, you can initate a conversation. There’s a great question I found useful with my daughters and I now use with the grandkids.

“What did you work on today?” This question requires more than a “yes, no, or okay.” Let’s say Cassie answers with, “We worked on serving the ball.” Then you can follow up with, “Are you serving better than last year?” And even, “Do you want to practice some after supper? I should be pretty good at serving.”

Encouraging – helpful – appropriate. What great adjectives to describe a sports mom or dad.

What have you found that’s a good conversation starter with your child when it comes to sports practices and games?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Children and Sports

Play sports for fun or play to win? When the focus is on fun, children are more likely to continue participating in sports and to develop an active lifestyle. But when parents and coaches push winning as more important, children tend to quit participating in sports.

This month we will talk about how to be a positive sports parent. Listen below  to a short podcast on what research says now about Children and Sports.

Click here for additional information on Positive Sports Parenting

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

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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Family Fun Time – Make it happen!

Welcome to our new format!

This month we will have a shorter podcast which we hope gives you more opportunities and ideas to blog!

Listen to the Family Fun Time podcast below and then share your ideas with us!

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

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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Storms of life…

A wild ‘Dust-nado’ that sent the town/schools scrambling a few weeks ago and the topic of Divorce made me think about how we cope with ‘storms’ of life.

In a sense we begin coping with all storms the same way. We open our toolbox of what we ‘know’ and begin to apply the skills to the storm. If the storm is small we may have all the tools we need to cope effectively. But as the storm grows we need to be open to allowing others (personal and professional) to help us fill that toolbox with the right tools. You really don’t want to use a hammer when you NEED a screwdriver (well in most cases- HA!).

In the midst of storms it can be difficult for us to determine the right tool to use for the storm we are in because we are in the middle of if surrounded by the yuck and muck. It can be hard to allow others to help us use the right tools – I’ll be the first one to admit I like to solve problems on my own! So I challenge you as I challenge myself – can you let others help you choose the right tool for your storm?

What tools have you found effective for life’s storms? Both big and small?

Here’s a great E-xtension Article – Coping with Stress

 

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

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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Episode 14: Kids and Money

Giving an allowance, paying for chores, offering money as a reward for good grades: Are these successful parenting strategies? How to help children develop a healthy relationship with money is up for discussion in this month’s Science of Parenting podcast from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

ISU Extension publications

Related resources

 

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

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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Where did THAT shirt come from – it wasn’t there before!

I have 3 girls and 30,000 pieces of laundry to wash.  (Ok maybe I’m exaggerating). In the last 3 days (yes true) I have asked the girls to each go to the laundry room, get their own clean laundry and put it away. Each of them has gone to the laundry room 3 times. Why? Because after the first 2 trips they had still missed some of their own items, which meant there was still a clean laundry pile.

How do I get them to find their items on the first trip? I’d even settle for the second? Do they not recognize their own articles of clothing?  (They certainly do when one of their sisters is wearing it?)

After a few moments of pondering the dilemma I remembered  the following technique I learned from a Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14 last month.

Adding a Small Chore: Here’s how it works.

Because they didn’t accomplish the first chore – getting their own clean laundry-mind you after 3 separate requests.  – they will now have a small additional chore. When I asked them to get their clothes initially, I also asked them to fold/match 6 pieces of ‘family’ laundry (towels, wash clothes, linens, match socks etc.) They will now have to each fold 3 times the number of towels/washcloths that I asked them to the first time. So they will each have 18 family items to fold/match. Trust me there are plenty! (sock come in pairs remember!)

By giving them a small ‘additional’ chore they will learn to check and make sure their first chore was done to completion. A small chore is not meant to be a punishment or an overwhelming task (like cleaning the garage or the complete disaster of a bedroom). The goal is to make it an inconvenience so they stop and think – or at the very least DO!

What are some other ‘small’ chores that could be assigned for those minor infractions? You might be surprised how the minor infractions decrease with the addition of a few small chores here and there.

Happy assigning!

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

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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I’m Bored

It took a long time but winter finally arrived. Snow and cold are a combination that makes many of us want to hibernate. And it seems like the perfect excuse for kids of all ages (and parents too) to spend even more time using all the technology. But even that can get boring.

What can “pull” a tween away from his iPad or get a teenager to quit texting? Perhaps it is an invitation to join you in the kitchen as you make homemade pizza. As you make and bake in the cozy kitchen, an hour may turn into an evening laced with laughter and talking.

Or maybe you ask for their help in scanning old family pictures to put into an electronic photo album. Each photo is a chance to share family stories. Everyone has fun reminiscing and you get to pass along a bit of family history. Some of the old photos could end up as electronic screensavers or wallpaper.

Let the kids plan a party for their friends. Pick out a holiday or maybe it’s just a “mid-winter” celebration.  Join them in coming up with inexpensive and creative ideas for invitations, food, and entertainment. Even better – make it a family party and invite both adults and kids.

With the next snowfall, dare the kids to follow you outside for a walk (with camera or smartphone in hand). See who can take the most interesting photo of Mother Nature’s winter handiwork. And if a good-natured snowball fight happens, all the better.

Actually, the list is endless of what we can do as families during winter weather. Have the whole family brainstorm a list of indoor activities and outdoors activities that they like to do. Be daring and add a few new ideas to the list. The biggest challenge is to not let it be a time of inactivity and boredom just waiting for spring.

What does your family like to do during the winter months? Is there something new you’d like to pursue?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Dodging the Sticks and Stones…

Listening to the podcast and reading the blog I wanted to make sure that we had more opportunity to really think about the thoughts and ideas presented so I am bringing back Donna’s 3 points. Again – you may not necessarily like these suggestions but I want to dive in a little deeper…

  • Really pay attention to what you and your child watch on TV. Reality shows are popular but research points to the fact relational aggression on these shows far too common. Being mean is shown in a glamorous way for someone to “win” or become popular.
  • Next take a look at yourself. How do you interact with other adults in your home? What does your child hear and see? Does she hear you talking “mean” to each other? Does he hear you gossiping or making snide remarks about people? Children model what they see in the home.
  • Tune in to your child’s group of friends. Is it a group of kids that practice relational aggression? Are they children with low self-esteem or do they think they are “hot stuff”? Either way, help your child learn how to stand up to the mean behavior.

When you look at these suggestions and watch the children around you (yours or others) what are examples that you may have seen (in your children or others’ children) that show these points to be true?

How have you seen acts of relational aggression handled in a way that positively impacted the situation?

We may decide to blog about this topic all month if you would like…

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

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’s Old is New Again

Sometimes the idea that what’s old is new again can be positive. But when I listened to the podcast and heard how the alcohol and pot of the 60s and 70s are now favored by teens – well, it wasn’t a good thing. We’re talking about the era I grew up in and yes, teens were doing plenty of experimenting and rebelling. However, it seemed to pass quickly for most and the consequences were not too significant.

Fast forward to today and I can tell you I worry about my grandkids and the choices they may make. The use (and abuse) of alcohol and drugs has been normalized and the behavior often glorified. There does not seem to be any rules to this game, but the consequences are severe.

So where do parents start? This sounds so simple – spend time together as a family. The podcast mentioned the alarming small amount of time dads and moms spend with their children. Time together is how you build affection and trust. This is the basis for communication.

Talk about yourself and the pressures and choices that came at each age. Be honest in sharing your own experiences.  That doesn’t mean I have to tell every little detail about what I did, or didn’t do. But I can share my mistakes and the consequences of my choices.  I can share my values and beliefs.

Allow for some experimentation. What I mean is it is natural for kids to experiment. That is how they learn. As a parent you can allow experimentation in areas where there is little or no long term danger. Let your child experiment with various school activities, part-time jobs, types of hair style and clothing. A wise parent learns when to close her eyes or bite her tongue. I choose to look past the trendy clothes and purple hair. The clothes change and the hair grows out. Instead i focus my energies on open conversations about choices that affect my grandkids’ futures. We may not always agree but they know they can speak freely with me.

Children are growing up in the same world as we adults live in but their experiences are very different.  The one thing I, and you as a parent, can do is be present. Do not turn over all influence to peers and media. Children and teens need and want, support, guidance, and caring from their parents. If that is what’s old is new again, I think it is a very good thing.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Enough Tears for Niagara Falls

“My daughter is going off to college or to live on her own.” These are such simple words to evoke the powerful emotions that often accompany them. Molly talked about how you can help your child adjust to her new world. I want to look at this issue from the other perspective and focus on your feelings as a parent.

I thought I was prepared when we took our first daughter to college. She was a mature young lady and ready for the adventure. We were thrilled for her, and even a little envious. So on a beautiful August morning we packed her up and headed off. Upon arrival we helped carry all the “stuff” to the dorm room, gave her last minute advice, and turned to leave. Yep, you guessed it; I didn’t make it out the door before the tears started. Other parents in the hall might have thought they were taking a ride on the Maiden of the Mist at Niagara Falls if they hadn’t been similarly occupied.

When a child leaves home, it can be traumatic for any parent. You are now experiencing another stage of parenthood called departure. It’s natural for you to spend time thinking about whether you’ve achieved the relationship you want with your now adult child. You may run that little video in your head over and over playing the story of your child’s life. All this is normal.

With the smiles and joys of remembering the wonderful years, will come the sadness of knowing things will never be quite the same. Share your feelings of sadness and loss with other adults. It is better to do so now then bottle up the feelings and try to deny their existence. Then you can focus on readapting identities and looking forward to new opportunities.

As for me, the tears stopped by the time my husband and I got to the car. Then we took off for a wonderful vacation where we celebrated the launching of the first child from our home. As the weeks and months went by, we all began to adjust to the shifts in our relationship. Let me tell you the rest of the story; the young woman we took to college all those years ago will celebrate her 45th birthday this month. You need not worry – you will always have a role as a parent. It just keeps changing with each stage of life.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Episode 6: Teen Drug and Alcohol Use, Abuse

Recent trends indicate that teens are more likely to think it’s OK to get drunk or use marijuana and other drugs. Prevention advocates are issuing a wake-up call to parents in this month’s Science of Parenting radio program podcast.

Related resources

ISU Extension resources

ISU Extension publications

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

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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College Bound

It’s already nearing that time of year, when your child will leave the nest for the first time, and embark on a new journey.  Heading off to college for the first time is incredibly exciting, and incredibly nerve-racking, for both children and parents.  It is a huge change for everyone involved, and it requires careful preparation and navigation.

The University of Southern Florida came out with a great list of “Helpful Tips for Parents of College Students.”  You can read the entire list by clicking on the link, but I wanted to highlight just a few tips that, as a recent college student, my friends and/or I found to be crucial.

  • Come up with a communication plan. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is.  Each relationship is different, and each person has different expectations.  Before your child sets foot on a college campus, come up with a communication plan (phone, email, text) that you all can live with.
  • Do not worry excessively about the “down in the dumps” communications. As a college freshman, lots of things are changing, and change can be difficult.  Know that with new friends and new relationships at school, your child will likely turn to you at home for any “venting.”  Be patient with these communications, and work to stay cool.  Know that just by listening, your are a tremendous help to your child.
  • Care packages go a long way. Students love to know that you’re thinking of them, and especially love to get a batch of mom’s homemade cookies that they’ve missed so much! 🙂

What questions are on your mind as you prepare your child for his/her college adventure?

– Molly Luchtel, guest blogger

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Competing in 4-H

I don’t have a strong background in 4-H, but I do know the competitions can get rough and tough. Just like sports, people spend a lot of time and money preparing for these events. So, if you’re a parent of a child competing in 4-H, how can you keep it all together at these competitions?

  1. Focus on the child. Every event, win or lose, is a learning experience, and an opportunity for your child to have fun. Let’s face it…if you can’t have fun as a child, when can you have fun?  So loosen up a little! Let your child enjoy it!!
  2. Resist gossip. Even if it’s juicy information about another competitor, parent, or fan…resist the urge to tell the world. Juicy gossip never builds self esteem, and often times, the people dishing it out are the topic of conversation for others.
  3. Focus on your role as a parent. You are not a judge, officiant, or worker at the competitions. These people are there for a reason. No matter who the authority figure is, you are crossing the line if you try to take over his/her position. Focus on your job as a parent, and work hard to be supportive of your child, and a good role model for him/her.

I realize that these pieces of advice fall into the category of “easier said than done,” especially when it comes to your child. So, I encourage you to start the day of by getting in the right frame of mind. Start by reminding yourself of the bigger picture or purpose behind the day. For example, we enrolled Timmy in 4H because (1) he likes animals, or (2) we wanted him to learn about the family business, or (3) it was an opportunity for him to learn about things I cannot teach him…the list could go on and on, but start by focusing on the larger purpose behind your child’s involvement with 4H.

Then, in moments of heated competitions and rising blood pressures, remind yourself of this “big picture”, and act in accordance with it. If the purpose of getting involved in 4-H was for Timmy to learn about the family business, don’t ruin all his progress by teaching him poor manners. Instead, act in a way that you would want him to act in a tough business situation, should he someday decide to take over the family business.

What strategies do you have for “staying cool, calm, and collected” during intense competition?

— Molly

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Helping Teens Get Organized

To be successful in the academic world, students need to be organized. For teenagers, this can be a difficult task.  With school, extra curricular activities, friends, and family, organization can seem like a foreign concept to adolescents.  Here are some tips teens can use to stay organized.

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each morning will help ensure that you get enough sleep.  This also helps your body get into a routine, enabling you to feel rested and refreshed each day.

Get ready to go the night before. Laying out your clothes, packing your lunch, and packing your book bag the night before will help avoid the feeling of being rushed in the morning. This also gives you time to think through and gather all the things you need for the upcoming day, to ensure these items are not forgotten.

Use a daily planner. A daily planner gives you one space to write everything down. From homework assignments to practice schedules and doctor appointments, having a planner keeps you focused and on track. Planners can also be used to create “to do” lists. Having a list to follow helps to make study halls and designated work times more effective and efficient.

Designate a study area. Each person has a different environment in which he/she studies best. Create an environment for yourself that allows you to get the most out of your study time. Be sure your space is quiet, well lit, and comfortable. However, do not make it too comfortable. A big, comfy couch is often more conducive to sleeping than to studying.

Don’t overload your schedule. Know that there is only so much you can accomplish in one day. There may be times when you need to say no to getting involved in an extra curricular activity, or spending extra time with your friends. Knowing your limits and carefully managing your schedule will allow you to keep up with school work, excel at the activities you do choose to participate in, and maintain a balanced social life.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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