It’s Never Too Late to Say Thank You

Mom reading a book to two children.
For many families, the last week or so may have been filled with gift giving and celebrations including good food and holiday cheer. When others spend so much time, preparing just the right holiday celebration, a hearty thank you is in order! So before the New Year rings, how about helping your children learn the skill of giving thanks to the people in your family and those friends who have made the last few days very special for all! Giving thanks has never gone out of style! In fact, good manners are reflected in the thanks that are expressed!

We often take for granted the people that mean the most to us. With out the preparation by mom and dad and extended family members, who work overtime to get the house ready, the presents purchased and wrapped, the groceries bought and delicious meals cooked, the holidays would lack that something special, they always seem to have!.
Giving thanks can take many forms. Writing a note, talking by phone, listening and sharing conversation with someone face to face! The effort we make in showing thanks will spread cheer and good will for many holidays to come!
If you are trying to teach children about writing thank you notes, here are a few helpful hints:

Greeting: Dear Aunt Karen,
Express thanks: Thank you for the new books and puzzles. I love reading.
Discuss use: I can share the puzzles when my friends come over to play.
Say it again: Thank you for remembering me with this gift.
Regards: Love, Susie

So get busy, get yourself some stationery, plain note cards or a selection of attractive postcards, and proper postage. Store all of these items somewhere easily accessible and preferably in plain sight, so you won’t forget! People like being appreciated, and if they feel you actually notice the nice things they do for you, they’re more likely to repeat their generosity.

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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Keep it Fiscally Healthy this Holiday Season

 Guest blogger Mary Weinand, Human Sciences Specialist, shares some important helpful ideas for fiscal health this holiday season.

parent and daughter putting coins into piggy bank

Each year at Holiday season we are flooded with articles and advice on how to “stay healthy” with all the choices we have and the opportunities to overindulge. Well, the advice we hear to maintain our physical health is useful for our fiscal health as well. This is a great time of year to take the opportunity to share healthy financial choices with our children.

Provide Healthy Choices

Discuss things your child enjoys that are free, such as playing with a friend or going to the library. Teachers report year after year that it is not the toys their students remember but the time they spend with their families. The card games and puzzles, the snowball fights and family meals are important healthy financial choices. A good book on this topic is, “Alexander who used to be Rich Last Sunday” by Judith Viorst. You can talk to your child about all the ways Alexander used his money and more importantly …was he happy with his choices.

Portion control

Many health advisors remind us to manage our portions to minimize over indulgence. This Holiday season take the opportunity to think about ways we can talk to our children about spending plans. How much money do they have and how do they plan to spend it when buying gifts for the family. Remind your children about added expenses like taxes and work with them to think about ways to stretch their dollars. Show them how to comparison shop and emphasize the gift of time. Promising to rake leaves and shovel driveways would be greatly appreciated by many family members. A good book to read together is, “Sheep in a Shop”  by Nancy Shaw. Ask your child if it was hard for the sheep to decide and how did the sheep solve the problem of not enough money?

Set Realistic Goals

When setting health goals we want the goal to be realistic and manageable and the same applies to finances. Young children may be confused about delayed gratification and buying gifts for others. It can be difficult for children to give a gift they may want themselves. Talk to your child about things that take time, plant some seeds in a cup or in a garden, and wait for them to grow. Together, take care of the seeds to help them grow. Or, sit down as a family and create a “family fun” list for winter, spring, summer, and fall. Write down all the activities that your family likes to do together. Some activities are free, like going for a walk or playing a game, and some activities cost money. A fun book to read together about realistic goals is, “Curious George  Saves His Pennies”  by Margaret and H.A. Rey

For more ideas or book suggestions about money, refer to the “Money as You Grow Bookshelf” by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Additional family finance resources available here.

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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From Gifts to Gratitude

Now that the gifts are open and the wrapping paper scattered, I began to think about how to help my children show their appreciation for what they received.

I remembered that when the girls were little we created small thank you cards and mailed them. I don’t exactly recall when we quit sending thank you’s but we did. As I sit and wonder, I can’t help but think that that the practice should have gotten easier as they aged because they could take on the task more independently. Why did we stop? I don’t know.

So I did what any curious mom would do while she ponders the importance of thank you’s and gratitude.  I googled ‘gratitude research’ to find out what science says about the topic.

According to research projects done through The Youth Gratitude Project: The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkley, “Research convincingly shows that grateful youth, compared to their less grateful counterparts, are happier, more satisfied with their lives, friends, family, neighborhood, and selves. They also report more hope, engagement with their hobbies, higher GPAs, and less envy, depression, and materialism.”

There are pages of research on the benefits of modeling, teaching and sharing gratitude with children. We could probably blog on gratitude for a year and not run out of research to share.

So if it is so important, why didn’t I continue the practice? I don’t know. I can’t change what we haven’t done in the past, but I can change what we will do in the future. Gratitude. It’s important to my children’s health.

I would love to know how you have helped shared gratitude with your children. Share your ideas with me.

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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Three Presents

I received a wonderful message from a reader of our blog. I asked the writer for permission to share.   I love when our readers let us know that something has touched them personally. 

Beautiful little girl child with shopping colorful paper bags in

Listen in on Laura’s thoughts….and thank you Laura for being willing to share.

When I was growing up, each of us seven kids in my family received three Christmas presents from Mom and Dad, under the guise of Santa Claus: a toy present, a clothes present, and a book present. There may have been discrepancies in the total cost of each kid’s gifts, but that didn’t matter to us. We each had three packages to open. It was fair.

This system also helped Mom and Dad administer their Christmas budget. They were not the type to go into debt; if they couldn’t pay for it, they didn’t buy it. But they could plan ahead – quite necessary when dealing with 21 presents (seven kids times three)!

In addition, they taught us kids a lesson about finances. They told us that parents would leave money on the kitchen table for Santa – to pay him for the presents. They said some parents could leave more money for Santa than they could, while other parents couldn’t leave as much. Santa then considered each family’s Christmas list against the money and provided accordingly. That made sense to us and was a simple way to explain why some of our friends might get more, or fewer, presents than we did.

But most important, my parents were sharing their values. We learned we couldn’t have everything we wanted – we had to make choices. Sure we may have wanted three toys, but we also needed socks or a new pair of pants – we learned to understand limits. We also grew to enjoy and value reading.

I took my parents’ three present system to heart, and my husband and I followed it with our own children.

I can’t quote the exact research that supports my parents’ – and my – approach to holiday gift giving. But it seems to be in line with the concepts the specialists’ teach: treat children fairly, practice love and limits, promote literacy, and stick to your budget.

Laura Sternweis

Laura is a communications specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She has a B.S. in communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point and an MS in rural sociology from Iowa State. She’s a former farm kid and the parent of two young adult children.

 

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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Consider Giving Kids Less Stuff, More Time during Holidays

father helps son with woodworking projectWelcome guest blogger, Mackenzie Johnson, Human Sciences Specialist Family Life.

Although the holidays can be a season of giving, sometimes the focus shifts to a season of getting, or so it may seem from a child’s perspective. It’s OK to give gifts to our children. We all want to see our children happy, and as parents we give from the goodness of our hearts. However, it’s easy to overdo it, especially around the holidays. This can become a pattern, and before we know it, we’re overindulging our children – giving them too much, too soon and for too long.

Research shows that overindulging children puts them at risk for a variety of negative outcomes, including a need for immediate gratification, an overblown sense of entitlement and a materialistic mindset and goals. Children who are overindulged may have poor self-control, as well as a more difficult time developing adult life skills.  Giving children too much stuff is just one form of overindulgence. Other forms include soft structure, meaning a lack of rules and responsibilities, and over-nurturing – doing things for children that they should be doing themselves.

So how can parents know whether they are crossing the line into overindulging their children?

Researchers Jean Illsley Clarke, David J. Bredehoft and Connie Dawson started the Overindulgence Project – Overindulgence.info – in 1996, studying the relationship between childhood overindulgence and subsequent adult problems and parenting practices. To date, they have completed 10 studies investigating overindulgence involving more than 3,500 participants.

The researchers suggest parents ask themselves four questions:

  • Do these gifts use a disproportionate amount of family resources?
  • Does what I am doing harm others, society or the planet?
  • Does this meet my needs (as the adult) more than the needs of my child?
  • Does it hinder my child from learning developmental tasks?

If parents answer yes to one or more of these questions, they probably are overindulging their children. However, there are some simple ways to get back on the right track.

  • First of all, if you have been overindulgent, take responsibility. Being in denial about it means that you can’t change anything.
  • Second, forgive yourself. If you’ve gone overboard in the past, don’t beat yourself up about it. Look at how you can move forward, do things differently and learn from your previous experience.
  • Next, work on one problem area at a time. Don’t try to suddenly change everything about your parenting style at once, as that will likely be too overwhelming. Maybe you start by deciding not to give your children so much stuff – toys, electronics, etc. – this holiday season, but consider giving them the gift of your time. For example, parents could create a “gift certificate” for a parent and child lunch date, or plan for an afternoon playing board games or having a baking day together. Or start even smaller and decide you won’t give in to your child’s next temper tantrum at the grocery store.

Just because you’ve overindulged your children in the past, doesn’t mean your children have been damaged forever. You can get back on track and raise your children to become responsible adults who show respect for others.
Share with us how you have takes steps to work on overindulging your children. Your ideas may help others!

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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Grandparents, Gifts and Giving

Children benefit from relationships with grandparents, aunts and uncles and other extended family members. These relatives express love in many ways, including gift giving which some parents say can be excessive and difficult to manage.  Finding ways to set limits and preserve relationships can be accomplished with clear, respectful, assertive communication skills. Assertive communication can work wonders in channeling well-meaning generosity for your child’s benefit.

Avoid Blame  Using “I messages” is a communication tool that reduces the chances that grandparents will become defensive, increases the likelihood of problem solving and preserves relationships.   You own your feelings and do not blame the other.  Notice the difference between these two statements. Which feels blaming?

  1. “You are always giving the children junk. What were you thinking?”
  2. “I am concerned that the children have too many toys.”

The ‘A’ statements are examples of “you messages.” “You messages” blame and provoke arguments.  The ‘B’ statement is an example of an “I message.”  “I messages” allow the speaker to claim his/her own perspective without blaming the receiver.  “I messages” often start with the words “I feel, I want, or I need . . .”

Notice the use of ‘I messages’ in this conversation opener:

“I would like to talk to you about something that is very important to me.  I value our relationship and appreciate your generosity towards my children. I am concerned that the children have too many toys. I need your help to find ways to manage the amount of things my kids receive.”

Stay Calm Tone of voice, body language and choice of words all have an impact on the outcome of a conversation.  When emotions rise in us, and in others, it is a signal that something important is being discussed.  It is a good time to find common ground through a technique called “AIKIDO” communication.  This 4-step tool helps restore harmony and begin solution seeking with overly generous grandparents and other relatives. Notice the “I messages” used in each step. Start with a deep breath to calm your body and collect your thoughts.

Step 1 Alignment – As a parent, put yourself in the grandparents’ shoes and see the situation from their perspective.

“I would want to feel special to my grandchildren.”

“I can see how fun it is for you to see joy in your grandchildren’s eyes.”

Step 2 Agree – Find common ground.

“I agree that we both love the children deeply and want the best for them.”

Step 3 Redirect – Move the conversation forward.

“I value our relationship and want to work this out together. Let’s find a time before the next holiday to talk about this.”

Step 4 Resolve – Begin the solution seeking with a suggested action step.

“I am confident we can find gift ideas for the children that will strengthen your bond with them and be manageable for our family.  Let’s make a list of ideas and see what feels right for you and me.”

These 4 steps may smooth the way for some great problem solving.

Be Clear If emotions are still running high or aggressive communication or behavior continues, allow time for everyone to calm down.  Then you can use the following technique to be clear, respectful and assertive without compromising your needs.

The DESC communication technique helps to set clear expectations and reduce defensiveness. DESC is an acronym for Describe, Express, Specify, Consequences. Pick one option from each step below or modify it to fit your situation.  Then, follow the steps in order to maximize the results. Don’t try to tackle all the issues at once.  Deliver your “speech” on one issue as if you are giving a report. Use an even tone of voice, calm facial expression, and be patiently persistent. Writing out what you want to say or practicing with a trusted friend before you talk to the grandparent can be helpful.

Step 1 – Describe the situation, stating your observations using ‘I messages’:

“I know you love my kids and want them to see you as their special (grandmother/aunt).  I noticed that the gifts the children received for the holiday are (broken, ignored, not appropriate for their age/abilities, too many for our home).”

Step 2 – Express your feelings:

“I am concerned that (pick one of the following):

  • The toys go the landfill quickly.
  • The children are overwhelmed and will not be able to use/appreciate these gifts.
  • The child is not old enough yet.
  • We do not have space to store/play with them.”

OR

“I want my children to learn the value of (education, saving, working toward what they need, appreciating what they have, family relationships, etc.)”

Step 3 – Specify your needs:

“For future gift giving, I want the children to receive more gifts of time/experience/savings like:

  • special activity with the child
  • family pass to zoo/pool/park/museum
  • dance/music lessons, camp registration
  • money (investment for college, savings bond, etc.)
  • story-telling about your childhood”
  • Choose more ideas at ReclaimYourHolidays.org

OR

“I prefer that the children receive tangible gifts such as:

  • Practical items such as clothing, grocery/farmer’s market cards/coupons
  • Needs or wants from a list created by the child
  • Gifts that can stay at Grandma’s house to be enjoyed at sleep-overs, etc.
  • Money (1/3 for saving, 1/3 for charity, 1/3 for spending)
  • Open-ended toys that encourage thinking, imagination, movement. (See extension.iastate.edu for “Understanding Children; Toys” for age-appropriate toys.)
  • A family heirloom and story.”

Step 4 – Consequences result when what is specified (in step 3 above) occurs or does NOT occur.

“When the children receive gifts of time/experience/savings, then they:

  • Create a special bond with you.
  • Enjoy the gift and are not overwhelmed.
  • Learn important values of (education, saving, work, appreciation, family relationships, etc.)
  • Will remember your generosity when they get older (you will provide a legacy).”

OR

“When the children receive too many toys or things they cannot use, I will return or donate them.”

If at first you don’t succeed at getting your family’s needs met around gift giving practices, keep trying to communicate as positively as possible.  Your child needs her extended family for support throughout her lifetime.  Avoid communication that feels blaming and destroys relationships. Commit to assertive communication to preserve relationships and find positive solutions.

 

References:

Anthony Bower, Sharon. The Assertive Advantage, A Guide to Healthy and Positive Communications.  National Press Publications, 1994.

Bodnar, Janet. Raising Money Smart Kids: What They Need to Know

about Money and How to Tell Them. Kaplan Publishing, 2005.

Rosenberg, Marshall B. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Chicago: Puddledancer Press, 2003. See also www.nonviolentcommunication.com.

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Kristi Cooper

Kristi’s expertise in caregiving, mind body skills and nature education inspires her messages about healthy people and environments with parents, professionals, and community leaders.

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Gift and Giving

christmasgiftboxWelcome guest blogger, Carol Ehlers, Human Sciences Specialist, Family Finance for this months topic on “Gits and Giving”

Simple Christmases that are low on cost but high on meaning are possible. In fact, a $10 limit per person is possible by carefully planning holiday spending.

The first step to achieving a small holiday limit is to make the decision to hold down spending. Tell relatives and friends you’re choosing to set a budget for exchanging gifts. This can be hard to do, but you may find that keeping holiday spending down can pay off in some unexpected ways.

Next, decide how to spend the budgeted Christmas funds. Will some be spent on the adults, or will it all be spent on the children?

Be creative by giving “low-cost experiences.” Many studies show that material possessions do not equal happiness and that experiences are much more intrinsically fulfilling than things. A Cornell University 10 year study and Journal of Psychological Science report confirm why experiences have the ability to contribute to happiness more than material purchases. Successful low-cost experience examples range from pottery making, rock climbing, horseback riding, bowling or skate tickets. Consider “Every Kid in a Park” (a free year-long national park pass https://www.everykidinapark.gov/ or geocache treasure hunts that end with ice cream. Consider sharing a skill or classes to experience sewing, painting or other similar activity. To keep it low-cost, find a family member, friend or community event to teach the skill at a discount.

Proven family focused gifts range from museum or science center memberships–to orchestra or community theater tickets– to a tent for camping. Sometimes a material gift can lead to an experience.

Families who have tried this low-cost Christmas have found it was more meaningful. Families that keep to their Christmas budget plan enjoy the feeling of financial security knowing there won’t be large bills to try to pay in January. There is also a good chance those inexpensive and thoughtful gifts will bring out the best in everyone and will be more meaningful.

 

We would love to hear about your inexpensive gift ideas! Share with us!

For more ideas download a free copy of ISU Extension and Outreach publication “Track Your Spending,” or “This is the Way I Spend My Money” a 12-month spending record.

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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Gifts of Presence more Important than Presents

Join us in welcoming a new guest blogger Barb Dunn Swanson to the Science of Parenting. Barb joined our Iowa State University Extension Human Sciences team this past summer.  She brings a wealth of extension experiences from working in the youth and families field in North Carolina and Iowa. Barb will share her thoughts on the importance of giving children and family the gift of “presence” more than the gift of “presents”.

Do you feel like the holidays seem to roll around faster and faster each year? Am I telling my age when I declare that time seems fleeting? I do enjoy the break we get during the holidays to re-connect with family and friends and to get re-energized.

Not every family has the same experience at the holidays. Some families will be out of work, creating hardships and some grief. Some may be dealing with the recent loss of a loved one, and that too creates grief. Through all of this, our care and comfort of one another can be a blessing.

One of the traditions many families share is gift giving. The holidays are the time of year we can help children and youth learn the gift of generosity. Generosity is learned through role modeling. Children and youth learn so much by observing the behaviors of those around them. The language they use, body language and self -expression is all learned. As adults, we can send strong messages through what we say, what we do and how we treat one another.

During the holiday season, instead of giving gifts that may need to purchased, wrapped and delivered, maybe we can re-think our gift giving strategy. What if we were to give a skill or a helping hand to someone we care for? Could we offer our TIME, to wrap someone’s holiday gifts? Could we offer to address Christmas cards for someone? Could we offer to go to the grocery store or shopping mall and shop alongside someone who may need extra time or attention? Could we spend a day at the senior center and visit and listen to the stories of the residents? These are the priceless gifts of attention that so many of us can give, and others will certainly appreciate.

As we at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach reflect on the holiday, we are reminded about our gift to the next generation. This video explains our efforts all year long!

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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Christmas Sock Story Reinforces Gratitude

This is a great time of year to tell family stories.  I purposely take the opportunity to retell my Grandma Isabel’s holiday story of gratitude each year to my children.  The story goes like this… her depression era grandparents would give each grandchild woolen socks with candy and an orange.  The gift was welcome to almost all of my grandmother’s brothers and sisters who usually received very little under the Christmas tree.  But one Christmas her ungrateful sister Ada complained that they were itchy and she didn’t like them.  Offended, her grandparents stopped the Christmas gift giving.  My grandmother was heartbroken, but her heart always remembered the importance of being thankful.  Her lesson of gratitude was repeated in story form for me each year!  I have continued the same story and sharing the importance of the value of gratitude.

My kids look forward to Christmas for 11 months each year!   The last thing I want to hear is them being an  “Ada” and complaining about is how they didn’t get everything they wanted, but teaching and having a spirit of gratitude instead.  Before Christmas, I try to set aside a time to do something for others.  They have griped at times…I will be honest…but I know that serving others will help make them into a better people.   It’s harder for them to think about their little problems when they see the Bob-Cratchit-sized issues of the less fortunate.

Janet Smith

Janet Smith

Janet Smith is a Human Science Specialist-Family LIfe with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She currently provides family life programming in eight counties in southeast Iowa. Janet is a "parenting survivor". She is the mother of Jared-21, Hannah-20, and Cole-15. She and her husband, David have faced many challenges together, including their son Jared's Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy diagnosis.

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What Do I Get the Grandkids?

I’ve got my list and I’m checking it twice. No, I’m not the jolly old Santa whose lap the kids climb on with those endless “I want” lists. Rather I am the Grandmother wondering what I can get the grandkids that they will appreciate and use. Gone are the days when it was so easy buying for the babies.

So what to do? Well I could get a list from the kids or ask their parents for ideas. Or, I could figure out ways to give of myself to strengthen the bonds of connection. Perhaps there is a combination of the two that makes sense for me.

Kristi Cooper, a co-worker, recently wrote two handouts that are filled with practical ways to create meaning.

Giving and receiving gifts is an expression of love. It can be done in a manner that is respectful to needs, wants, finances, and family values. When gift giving occasion arise – holidays, birthdays, and special events – I give from the heart. Honoring the special connection with my grandkids is priceless.

How do you handle gift giving with your grandkids?

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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It’s Not the Same as Spoiled

Wow – I think we struck a note (or nerve) with the opening podcast on overindulgence. Some people are responding with humor and others are seriously questioning what it means. And on occasion, I’ve heard “that surely doesn’t include a doting aunt, grandparents, and so on.”

I confess, I’ve been known to spoil my grandkids now and then. And I’m guessing some of you parents have given in to your child’s desire for that special something. That’s not what we’re talking about with overindulgence which is a pattern of behavior with too much, over-nurture, and soft structure.

Let’s start with one type of overindulgence which is material. That is having too much (toys, clothes, privileges, entertainment, activities) and not knowing what is enough. Researchers use a test of four to determine if there is an overindulgence issue. If one clue is present, then it’s time to stop and see what’s going on.

  1. Does the situation hinder the child from learning the tasks that support his or her development and learning at this age?
  2. Does the situation give a disproportionate amount of family resources to one or more of the children?
  3. Does this situation exist to benefit the adult more than the child?
  4. Does the child’s behavior potentially harm others, society, or the planet in some way?

Do these questions make sense? Have you thought about any of these questions as you make decisions in your family?

Note: As with all our podcasts we intend to share studies and research. Then our blogs are a further look into the topic from our perspective and we encourage your comments. I invite you to check out the research listing on the www.overindulgence.info web page. Links take you directly to research being done by Dr. Bredehoft and others. Another suggested reading is Study 6: Connections between Childhood Overindulgence and Adult Life Aspirations – A Preliminary Report by David J. Bredehoft and Chelsae Armao, 2008.

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 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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Tick tick tick tick tick….

Tick tick tick tick tick …this is what I hear in my head this week. The tick tick ticking of 2011. I’m not panicked or frantic. I think just mindful that the year is almost over. Reflective about what I thought the year would bring and what the year did bring. Some good, some not so good. But all of it worth reflecting on.

My favorite thing to is to look back with my family over the goals we had for the year. Yes, we sat down and all wrote out some goals for 2011. We started that about 5-6 years ago – maybe more. We all sit down and come up with something we want to do for ourselves, something we want to do with each other, and some place we want to go. It has been as simple as “I want to learn to ride a bike” and as complex as “I want to go to Disney”. We write them down and then we put them in my ‘To Do’ folder.

Periodically throughout the year I clean than ‘To Do’ folder and remind everyone what their goals were and we think about them, possibly edit them and put them back in the folder. At the end of the year we bring it out  reflect on the things we did and didn’t do and then we do it all over again for the next year

You know what? We typically meet a majority of the goals… not all of them by any means… but as a family a good majority are met. And most of the time we did it without even trying. Isn’t that crazy?! Funny thing about goals is that if you write them down and date them they suddenly have the possibility of becoming reality. Even the trip to Disney happened!

What does your family do at the end of year? Do you create goals? Do you have traditions that help you celebrate the past year and welcome in the new?

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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Exergaming: A better option than sedentary games for holiday gift-giving

If you want to buy your child a video game, buy a game that rewards physical activity. New research shows that playing some activity-promoting video games can be as beneficial as other forms of moderate exercise. For instance, adolescents who played Wii Sports Boxing showed physiological effects that were classified as moderate physical activity. Researchers concluded that children, ages 10-to 14-years old, who played eight hours of Wii Boxing per week, burned 1,990 calories; this is three times more calories than they would have expended if they were playing a sedentary video game. Researchers do not dismiss the importance of children engaging in traditional physical activities, such as walking briskly and running. However, if your child is going to play a video game, encourage those that reward physical activity as opposed to a sedentary video game.

Additional exergaming options include Wii Fit™, EA SPORTS Active,™ Dance Revolution™, and The Beatles: Rock Band. In fact, other research has shown that children who played certain video games burned:
• 125 calories in 15 minutes while boxing
• 92 calories in 15 minutes while playing tennis, and
• 77 calories in 15 minutes while bowling.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children between 6-and 17-years of age should engage in 60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity most days of the week. Running and brisk walking are examples of aerobic activities that can improve your child’s overall health and reduce the risks for developing many diseases. Children should also participate in muscle-strengthening exercises at least three days a week. Also, The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests:
• Absolutely no screen time or video game playing for children under the age of three years, and
• No more than 1 hour of total screen time (includes playing video games) for children ages 3-12 years per day

If your child will be playing video games, find games that increase your child’s energy expenditure, heart rate, and perceived exertion, because many of these exergames produce effects similar to moderate-intensity exercise. More important, parents should remain mindful of the benefits of traditional exercise, as well as the recommendations for the amount of time children should play video games and engage in physical activities.

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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