Activity: It Takes Energy

Have you ever watched your toddler explore their environment and thought, “Wait, let me catch up to you!”?

If you have, you might be parenting a child with a very active temperament. You may have a child who is learning and growing through exploration and play. They may be so active that you are fearful for their safety, and you find yourself glancing around the house for unknown hazards.

As parents monitor a child’s environment and see potential dangers or hazards, the active child sees a challenge and an invitation to move. A child who is more cautious is still taking in information and making decisions based on what is seen and experienced around them. The child who seems fearless and ready to take on the world is wired differently and ready for adventure, even when a parent spots danger on the horizon.

On the other end of the spectrum is the child who is less active. One who is content to sit and watch and take in information while carefully observing what is happening all around them. It is even possible to have siblings with opposite active temperaments in the same household. The challenge for parents is engaging each child’s temperament with joy and expectation because each child is using all their energy and knowledge to reach the developmental milestones necessary for healthy development.

As parents, our job is to take our cue from our child. Providing boundaries that protect our children yet with enough room to take age-appropriate risks is important as children move through their developmental milestones in their quest for autonomy. Parents who can tune into the activity levels of their children without blame and shame can provide the support and encouragement their child needs to continue to reach and meet the many growth milestones throughout childhood. 

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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A Vampire Named Energy

thCAMHX0F3During October we are surrounded by visions of vampires – costumes and advertisements and TV shows. But have you considered that vampires are with us every day of the year in the form of energy suckers?

Basically an energy vampire is an electrical product that cannot be switched off completely unless it is unplugged. For example a cell phone charger, if left plugged in, will continue to use electricity 24 hours a day. I found a list of the biggest energy vampires which are: TVs, window air conditioners, computers, video game systems, microwave ovens, and power tools.

Granted, most products go on “standby power” but when you consider all the electrical things in your home, it adds up fast. So how can we defeat the vampires?

The surest way is to unplug anything not in use. But that can get cumbersome so an alternative is to fight the energy vampires with power strips. Plug TVs, video game systems, DVD players, etc. into a power strip. Then flip off the power switch when done. This is way easier than remembering to pull lots of plugs. Get another power strip and do the same for all the chargers for cell phones, tablets, and computers.

Enlist the kids in helping find and fight the energy vampires. Have a little fun with this and train the whole family to “flip the switch” and “pull the plug.”

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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Harness the Energy

Children often see no reason to conserve their boundless personal energy when they’re running or playing. Likewise, they seem to think electricity is in endless supply when they stand in front of the refrigerator with the door wide open. During National Energy Awareness Month in October, we will talk about getting kids to understand the impacts of their energy use. What they are doing now by conserving or not conserving energy is likely how they will live as adults. As parents we have the opportunity and responsibility to help them understand how energy usage impacts the world in which we live.

This month we’ll blog about some of the ways we can help our children be energy conscious and gain ideas on ‘living lighter’.



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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