Mom I Need Some Cash…

Yeah not really a catchy title… pretty boring because we’ve all heard it  (and probably even said it ourselves).

In listening to the podcast there is one thing that really really won’t leave my mind. “Consistency”.

Gosh isn’t that the pits. It’s the same word we use to talk about guidance and discipline with children. Huh… guess that means it’s a pretty important word.

But sometimes isn’t it soooooo hard? I know it is for me!!! Especially when it comes to money. I desperately want to teach my children good money management but making the time and being consistent is where I struggle.

I need your help on ideas on how I can be consistent!!!!  Yes this blog IS all about me!

Lori Korthals, 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 Korthals, 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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Elementary my dear Watson….

Sitting on my deck in the sun…listening to the neighborhood children running through the water puddles left by the melting snow. The sounds of their loud and intense squeals of laughter remind me that several of these kiddos are champion tantrum throwers as well. The emotions are just as strong when they are happy as when they are angry. Like Donna said last months temperament topic goes right along with this month’s temper tantrums topic.

In the heat of a good tantrum it’s so important to think about the cause behind the emotions. Getting wrapped up and wound up in the emotions along with the child will be like throwing gas on a fire. Finding a way to remain calm both physically and emotionally can help the child deescalate as well. What was the initial cause of the very first emotion? Was it frustration? Was it hurt? Was it fear? The intensity of the tantrum is the secondary emotion – something triggered.

We have to play Sherlock Holmes…. What was going on prior to the tantrum? Where was the child? Who was in the vicinity? When did the emotions start to show themselves?  Take a breath and see if you can find the clues before responding.

What were some clues you discovered when you search for reason behind your child’s tantrum?

Lori Korthals, 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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Taming the Tiger inside……

I’m a fairly mild mannered girl. It takes quite a bit to rile me up and get me excited, agitated or angry. I’m certainly not saying I can’t get there. I just run at a slower boiling point than some. However,  I think that some of my favorite people and kiddos are those that boil quickly and intensely. I’m not sure what it is about them. Maybe I long for their zest and intensity for both hot and cold/high and low. I love being around them and love working with them.

As parents, it’s important to recognize what your own boiling point is before you can help lower your child’s. Children watch us control ourselves in order to determine how to control themselves. I tell parents that if they can first recognize and conquer their own intense temperaments -or lower their own boiling point first – then they will be better equipped to help their child lower his/her boiling point.

Do you get physically hot when you are angry? Does the red creep up your neck? Do you talk faster, high pitched or louder? Think about what happens to you as you begin to boil. Then try a few of the following steps – these steps are exactly what you would show/teach your child as well.

  1. Deep breathe
  2. Relax your neck, shoulders and jaw (on purpose!)
  3. Turn away from what it is that is frustrating you – or close your eyes for a moment so you can’t see it.
  4. Swallow or suck (This is a natural movement that has been around since you were born. Get a drink of water, suck on a candy or pop in some gum!)
  5. Sway (Yes really! Again a natural movement that was there when you were born. We all sway when see a baby rocking, try it! You may find it soothing!)

What other signs show you that your child is about to boil over?

What things do you do to try to lower that boiling point?

Lori Korthals, 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! I need some direction!!

Did you hear it? Could you hear your own words in what Mary was saying in this months podcast? Did you find yourself saying “She’s talking about MY child! My LIFE!”

I Love Love Love sharing about Temperament. I have been climbing the walls WAITING for the podcast to come out so you could all hear it. And now it’s here and I have so much to share ……. that I’m at a loss for words…. no really…. I have no idea where to begin!

Do you want to hear about the Intense and Feisty child?  Or the Shy and Fearful one? Or maybe you have a Flexible Easy Going child and want to make sure they don’t get lost in the crowd!

Understanding temperament is like being able to ‘see in’ to the why of children’s behavior. Why do they scream loudly? Why do they cower and tuck their head? Why do they take so long to make a decision? How do I COPE!

There is so much to SHARE but I need your help to tell me where to START!!!

Listen to Mary if you haven’t and then let me know your burning questions about what she said!  If you don’t help me – I’ll start without you!

http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/scienceofparenting/2012/02/01/episode-12-how-to-parent-spirited-children

Lori Korthals, 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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It’s still a Happy New Year!!

Sometimes as I start these blogs my mind wanders… then I have to think about what I really wanted to say. I started out thinking I wanted to talk about winter activities for families. Then looked outside at the shining sun and melting icicles and my mind wandered. It wandered to New Years! I started thinking about an article I had read on the eXtension website and wondered “how many families are already frustrated and disheartened with their New Year’s Goals?” So I went back to the article and thought I would share it with you here.

I have excerpted it and added the full link at the bottom. My question to you is this…  Instead of getting frustrated about things that haven’t gone right or things you haven’t achieved… is there something that you and your family can do TODAY to start over with your goals and plans? Tell us here!!! We can help keep you accountable!!

By the way family goals can be a great way to create family togetherness!

Wishing You a Healthy & H-A-P-P-Y N-E-W Y-E-A-R

H – Health Make health a priority this year. Health should be more than the absence of disease – read on for ideas.

A – Attitude A positive attitude may not cure a disease. However, thinking positive can help you deal with misfortune, make the most of your situation and enjoy life more.

P – Physical activity The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends for adults: “Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. Additional benefits occur with more physical activity. Both aerobic (endurance) and muscle-strengthening (resistance) physical activity are beneficial.”
For more information and for guidelines for children: https://health.gov/our-work/physical-activity/move-your-way-campaign/campaign-materials/materials-parents-and-kids

P – People Numerous studies indicate social networks, whether formal (such as a church or social club) or informal (such as meeting with friends), make people less vulnerable to ill health and premature death. Be wary, however, of social support that drains you through people being too demanding or encouraging you to engage in harmful behaviors.

Y- Your body Schedule physical checkups as needed: eyes, teeth, mammogram, colonoscopy, general physical, etc.

To find the rest of the article go to: http://www.extension.org/pages/24859/happy-new-year

And just in case you think I don’t really want to know – I DO!!  Is there something that you and your family can do TODAY to start over with your goals and plans? Tell us here! It’s about family togetherness!

Lori Korthals, 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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Plugging In For Special Needs

I’m texting my daughter wondering when she needs me to pick her up. I’m writing my blog on my laptop. And I listened to the podcast on an iPad. Technology is important to me.

I listened with interest to what Dr. Susan Walker and the guys had to say… I was curious. I wanted to know where I fit in. I was hoping they weren’t going to tell me I was too ‘plugged in’. They didn’t. They made me feel like I was using the technology in a way that really supported my parenting. How refreshing for once! Instead of being told it’s too much I was told…think about how you are using it to support your family life in a positive way.

I started to wonder how I would share with you positive impacts it has made on our family… I hesitated to share this particular story but then decided that maybe there was someone else who wants to know if they ‘fit in’….. Technology can help parents find that emotional and social support they need when they have a child with special needs.

My daughter as Aspergers. She has difficulty in social situations. She is disorganized and struggles with self-confidence. She has amazing in-depth thoughts and ideas but struggles to express them verbally. We got her a phone for her 12th birthday. We initially wondered if she would be able to utilize the phone because she is intimidated to talk typically. But we were ‘hopeful’ that she might take to texting.

The child amazed us in a matter of hours. Her texts were stunning. Long full thoughts with CAPITAL letters and EXCLAMATION points!!!! She was thrilled to be able finish her thoughts without losing her confidence like she does when speaking. We were thrilled! And admittedly annoyed when she would correct us or impatiently text again and again waiting for an answer.

Technology supported her in a way we never guessed. The iPad has given her big imagination and a place to listen to/read books, as well a place to create The cell phone has give her a voice. As parents we struggled with the idea of ‘plugging her in’ wondering what others might say because she is 12.

Technology supported our parenting. It supported our child. It’s boundaries are limitless so it is up to us to set boundaries and find boundaries. Make sure that technology does not ‘replace’ your child’s learning but supports it. Also that it is appropriate for your child’s current development. Support groups and websites for parents of children with special needs are a fabulous place to let technology build us up as parents and fill our parenting tool box.

What ways has technology supported you or your family?  How have you benefited from getting your family ‘plugged in?

Lori Korthals, 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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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 Korthals, 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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Delete…Re-Write…Stuck Brain

So I wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote again this blog. I think I just couldn’t decide what it should really be about. Should it be about brain development like the podcast? Should it be about learning to breathe like Kristi’s last blog? Or should it be about Thanksgiving because that is what happening right now? Nothing came to me. I even contemplated calling Donna and begging for her to take this week for me.

Was this writer’s block? (or is it bloggers block?) I was overwhelmed and stuck. My brain wouldn’t budge. I wondered if that’s what’s it like when kids become overwhelmed with everything that goes on over these next several weeks. Their brain becomes blocked. With all the hustle and bustle and here and there and fast and slow I wondered if their brain becomes so overwhelmed that they to end up wanting to  ‘delete and re-write’ like I did. Not literally writing and deleting but more through their behaviors, actions and words. Maybe there is more crying and clinging? Maybe there is interrupted sleep and more aggression. Whatever it is their brain is overwhelmed and stuck with all of the busy-ness of the adults in their lives.

As we look ahead to the next several weeks I think it becomes important to remember the brain development podcast – we are in charge of growing their brains. Be kind and gentle to their brain. Understand that all of this busy-ness may overwhelm their brain to the point of ‘waving the white flag melt-downs’. Remember to breathe over the next several weeks AND breathe with your children. They are never too young to learn to take a deep breath for relaxation. And finally ponder what the whole holiday season means for you and your family. Share those thoughts out loud with them as you walk through the next several weeks together.

How has your child shown you when their brain is stuck? What have you done to help them get through it?

I’m not deleting and re-writing this one……  🙂

Lori Korthals, 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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Brain Farmers……

If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the podcast this month make sure you do. I laughed out loud as I was listening to the gang talked about parents being Brain Farmers -as in growing the brains of young children. Living in rural Iowa it certainly created an interesting picture in my head. My children are 14, 12 and 7 and I guess I’d like to think I’ve done a lot of brain growing over the years.

One thing that really struck me was how each and every experience my children have with me makes a difference in how their brains become connected. That means that all of their experiences good, bad and otherwise have helped to wire the connections in their brains. That’s a lot of responsibility !

Rather than focus on moments I may not be proud of as a parent, I thought about the positive things that has helped to grow their brains. Spending time talking, laughing and playing together grows brains. Ensuring our children get proper sleep, nutrition and physical activity grows and wires their brains.

So really, all of it is important. Each and every little thing makes an impact on their brain. How very cool that just plain ‘doing things’ with our children – that active involvement in their lives- builds their brains. Or like Doug says in the podcast, “ No More Fads Needed”. My kids don’t need the next best gizmo and gadget this Christmas – they just need me!

What are some ways that you have grown your kids’ brains by just being with them? What are some ideas that you could give other parents about how to be ‘with’ their child while growing their brain?

Lori Korthals, 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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Lions, Tigers and Costumes! OH My!

I thought a lot about Grover the last week or two. Thinking about the fact that he and his pals on Sesame Street really are technically ‘monsters’.  Puppets yes, but ‘monster’ puppets all the same. As a preschool teacher many years ago I recall vividly the day of our fire station field trip. The firefighter from Fire Watch Guards led the children through the station & stopped in front of the truck then slowly piece by piece put on his fireproof pants, coat, gloves …. And then the hat/mask…… several children yelled MONSTER!!!!!!  And began to cry. I was horrified. Both because I had traumatized the children and because the poor firefighter didn’t know what to do. Young children (toddlers/preschoolers/even through early elementary ages at times) have a difficult time distinguishing between fantasy and reality. As soon as the fire fighter put on the mask the human-ness was gone and the children’s brains thought monster. As adults we ‘know’ that the real human is still under the costume and the costume is creating a fantasy type character. Company/sports mascots, life size puppets, clowns and even Halloween costumes can fall into that fantasy category. My daughter was one of those children that was very scared of the costumed characters. We never went to an Barney Live or a Disney on Ice because the characters were roaming the halls mingling with guests. Even at 11 she still says “I’m not so scared of them but I really don’t like them mom”.  Have your children been scared of characters or clowns? What were some ways that you helped them through their fears?

Lori Korthals, 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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Grover vs ….?

I am a product of Sesame Street. Yep, I counted with the Count and ate cookies with Cookie. And deep down I’m probably still in enamored with loveable furry ‘ole Grover!

According to this month’s podcast there are 34 years of research that shows I very likely went to kindergarten having ‘learned’ from Sesame Street! Knowing that tv truly is ‘teaching’ our children can be both exciting and frightening at the same time.  This month’s podcast addresses how we can sift through what our children should and shouldn’t watch on television.

As I think about what my children might be learning from tv, I think most about all of the different channels available. I only had three options. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the different programming options available. My girls and I enjoy several of the nature and real life types of shows on various channels, but have also watched the cartoon-y children’s programs. We like the options!

Do I limit what they watch – yes I try my best. Are there times that they may be watching something less than stellar in my opinion? Absolutely. As I was listening to the podcast I appreciated the recognition that different channels may have both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ programming. That one channel may not be all ‘bad’ or all ‘good’. The bottom line was that I needed to pay attention to the different programs, watch them for myself and then determine whether it would be something I should let my girls watch.

What types of characteristics do you look at when you determine whether or not your children should watch something?

Lori Korthals, 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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Did You Get Your Homework Done?

Did you get your homework done? That’s a question heard in many homes as parents and kids settle in for the evening. Part of the anxiety for kids at the beginning of each school year is adjusting to homework expectations. There can be a big difference from year to year in terms of quantity and difficulty.

Research shows that effective homework assignments do more than supplement the classroom lesson. They also teach children to be independent learners. Homework gives children experience in following directions, making judgments, raising additional questions for study, and developing responsibility and self-discipline.

Okay, that all sounds positive. But as a parent the question becomes how involved do you get in helping with homework. Following are my thoughts on the “what and how.”

  • Give praise for things your child does well in school. Look at the pictures, ask how the spelling test went, read the essay. Know what is being studied.
  • Discuss school with your child, both positive and negative. When there is a problem at school it is hard for most children to figure out what they can do to deal with it. They need your help.
  • Meet with teachers – face-to-face, phone, electronically. Have a conversation at the beginning of the school year about homework expectations.
  • Have a special place for homework where there aren’t distractions. Select a place that you can easily monitor. If the homework is done on the computer, check to be sure your child is doing homework and not chatting with Facebook friends or playing games.
  • Set clear rules about when homework is to be done. Evenings can be hectic with supper, music and dance lessons, sports practices and games, church activities, etc. Sit down as a family and decide where homework fits in.
  • Give consequences if homework is not done. Most children will not change habits unless there is a consequence for poor behavior or not following the rules.
  • Stay calm when there is a school problem. Your child’s teacher will have information about what aspects of his work are creating a problem. Then you can work towards a solution.

Your child is going to be in school for many years. Even though she may not have lots of homework right now, you are setting the stage for how this part of her school experience will go. If you can help her develop good study habits now, the payoff will be substantial in the years ahead.

What specific things are you doing to help your child be successful in school?

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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Keeping It Real

Project based learning sounds like an educator’s way of keeping it real. At least that’s what I heard in the podcast. I liked how the guys talked about getting the learning out of the textbooks and into reality. Lori shared a great example of project based learning at her house. I want to go the other direction and talk about examples from the school perspective.

I recently chatted with Dorene McCart who is the Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Wayne Community School in Corydon, Iowa. Dorene does an outstanding job of giving her students opportunities to show to a larger audience, than just herself, what they can do. Students in the foods classes keep the kitchens humming year round. They prepare food for: volleyball tournament, National Honor Society induction, community play, community programs, prom, etc. They go through the planning process, make decisions, write out market orders, prepare the food, and serve. And talk about keeping it real – the students plan meals for a family of 4 for a week and are able to figure the cost per serving.

My favorite example from Dorene’s long list has to do with used clothing. A woman who moved to the community from New York City was amazed at the clothes available through the used clothing center. She approached Dorene about how the students could help in spreading the word about this resource. The students first studied the elements of design. Then they went to the center and chose 10 outfits with accessories. Students invited their mothers and grandmothers to a specially prepared lunch and presented a style show in their economical, but fashionable clothing.

There you have project based learning in a nutshell. A person saw a problem or issue. A product evolved into a project which was integrated into what the community already had – an underused clothing center, a classroom of eager students, and an innovative teacher. This is keeping it real. This is keeping it connected to the street.

What’s going on at your school that fits the concept of project based learning?

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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Project Marco

This month’s podcast is all about engaging our children’s minds – creating opportunities for children to get involved in what they are learning with all parts of their body and mind. We have project based learning all around us – inside our home and outside our home. The podcast was an opportunity for me to learn something new. As I listened I enjoyed recalling a time with my own children where we unknowingly used project based learning!

Enter Marco. I have 3 girls. We like bugs. And spiders. We found Marco in a warehouse and created a lovely terrarium for Marco to live in. Marco was a large Wolf Spider. Marco seemed happy with us. We spent hours together researching what Marco ate and drank, what other Marco’s may look like, just researching everything we could about Wolf Spiders.

Within days Marco created an ‘egg sac’. We pondered renaming Marco, Martha, but decided that in the spider world Marco could have an egg sac. We also “hypothesized” when that egg sac would open and how fast I would need to get that terrarium OUTSIDE when it did. We were so engrossed in our project that we even took Marco on a weekend trip to grandpa and grandma’s house.

Luckily we did because the egg sac opened that weekend and hundreds of the cutest little spiders scampered out of the egg sac while the terrarium was perched on the back steps (whew!). We spent several moments watching them scurry & race about. Then one of the girls remembered something we discovered during our research. Once the egg sac opens the adult spider dies. Sure enough there was Marco snuggled in the leaves at the bottom of the terrarium, lifeless. Our project was complete. Or was it? Our Marco project was over 5 years ago, and it still creates lively conversations and sharing of memories. It continues to be a hands-on experience my children can relate to as they learn about scientific theory and life cycles in school.

What are some ‘projects’ that your family has done? How has your families involvement in those projects shaped your child’s learning (or even yours!)?

Lori Korthals, 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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