Have the conversation…now

Wow, it is August! Each year, right at this time, families begin carefully thinking about the beginning of a new school year! They may be curious about school teachers; school supplies; transportation; sporting events; and after-school programming. Well this year, as a nation, we are experiencing the unexpected! We are experiencing a pandemic that is altering every notion we have of how to prepare for the school year.

father and child

We are now exploring alternative school schedules; masks; social distancing; sanitation,  health and safety like never before. When we first learned of the pandemic, we may have thought we would return to our regular schedule by mid-summer. Now we are learning that the pandemic may be impacting our schedules much longer.

With that reality, I wanted to encourage parents to continue to check in with your children and other family members. Take some time to really sit and listen to the feelings your family members may be experiencing. Are they feeling sad or depressed because they miss interacting with their friends? Are they feeling anxious about starting a new school year and don’t know what to expect? Was their summer interrupted, were they unable to go to camp; county fair; or other routine events cancelled? All of these situations can bring a level of disappointment and talking it all out could be one step in the healing process.

Keeping our family members healthy during this pandemic is a priority. When we have honest conversations about why our schedules have been interrupted, we can begin to plan for alternate ways to respond. Keeping the lines of communication open and discussing positive coping techniques to use when we feel upset are critical! We don’t have to know all the answers, but we can reach out for support! Consider the following resources:

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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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

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

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

oP Stop. Breathe. Talk.

Those of us here at the Science of Parenting are snuggled deep in our blankets and sweaters. Realizing that most of you probably were too, we decided that it might be a good time to revisit the idea of Stop. Breathe. Talk. With the long cold spell and the possibility of cancelled events and schools there may be 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.

 

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 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. And in the meantime, STAY SAFE AND WARM!

 

 

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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Celebrating Thanksgiving

Beautiful African American woman and her daughter cooking in the kitchen

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, Science of Parenting would like to offer you a few resources to assist you in creating a memorable holiday for your family. Many families celebrate Thanksgiving by preparing foods that are not only traditional but that are meaningful to members of the family. Recipes passed down through the generations and lovingly prepared by relatives who gather to celebrate with one another. May we suggest a review of our Iowa State University Spend Smart Eat Smart website for a whole host of recipes including videos to help you prepare for your meal.

When the house is full of family, friends and extra guests, children may feel overwhelmed. Keeping a schedule, familiar to the children, will help them manage the holiday expectations more smoothly. We do have a resource you might review, Managing Stress in Young Families.

Giving thanks for one another and for our gifts may be another family tradition . Showing appreciation to one another is one way we can model good thanksgiving habits! Calling someone by name, sending a greeting card of thanks, doing a favor for someone and simply doing what we say we will do are all ways of showing appreciation for one another.

This Thanksgiving, think of a way to give thanks on a daily basis! Who are the people in your life that you love and appreciate? Who are the people that cheer you on, encourage you to do your best, support and guide you through the rough patches? If you can begin to show appreciation to these folks, giving thanks will become a habit.

As a Science of Parenting Team, we thank you for interacting with us and wish you a wonderful holiday.

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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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

Aunt of four unique kiddos. Passionate about figuring how small brains develop, process, and differ. Human Sciences Specialist, Family Life in western Iowa with a B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences and Design minor.

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Did you say STRESS?

We have been talking teens, and that means we may also need to talk about the “s” word…also known as STRESS! While stress can take many forms and it can be considered both positive and negative, all of us, at one time or another, have probably experienced stress! You know the feeling, your heart starts to beat a little faster, you may begin to sweat just a bit, you let your mind wander and before you know it, you may even be close to panic mode.

Over time, each of us has to find an appropriate set of coping techniques to use so that when we feel a little panicked, or stressed, we can indeed cope! None of us likes to feel out of control, so being able to manage our stress is a skill that is worth its weight in gold. There are many healthy ways to manage and cope with stress, but they all require change. You can either change the situation or change your reaction.

Some folks have used exercise as an antidote! People who exercise regularly will tell you how much better they feel. They will also tell you that the energy they derive from exercise can be used to “think through” or manage the stress that comes their way. If you were to park your car as far away from the entrance to the buildings you go into, that would be one way to increase your exercise. If you were to take the steps, and not the elevator, that too would increase your opportunity to get a little exercise. Do you like to dance, or do Yoga, or to meditate? These are also examples of coping techniques and exercise strategies that can be helpful in overcoming stress.

Parenting can be stressful and at Science of Parenting, we take pride in providing resources and education that can assist anyone manage and cope with the stress they encounter. Begin your stress relief journey by visiting our parenting in challenging moments link https://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/scienceofparenting/guidance/

We are committed to empowering people and growing lives!

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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