Same Girl, Different Year

Recently, I attended a professional Childhood journal entry from 2001development opportunity on the DiSC personality profile, which categorizes you into one of four areas – dominance, influence, conscientiousness, and steadiness (read more about specifics here: ). The day consisted of activities that better helped us to understand our personality type, the type of those with whom we work, and how to best interact with one another. According to the assessment, I’m an ‘I’ – which basically means that I try to make good impressions wherever I go, appreciate working with others, and like to… uh…  talk a lot. According to the assessment, I also lack the ability to be organized (who? me? nooooo).

The very next day after this training, my dad handed me a stack of papers he found tucked into a book in the basement: journal entries I had written in second grade. Entries included, but were not limited to:

  • “Things I love to do is draw, decorate, create, write, type, and pretend to teach.”
  • “Iowa state rules!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
  • “My vacation was fun, I stayed over night at my friends house”
  • “I never want to go to jail.”

As I was reading entries written by an 8-year-old me, all I could think was “that is totally me!” I love to draw and design, I work for Extension (where I get the chance to educate), enjoy spending time getting to know others (and appreciate vacations with others around), and I’m a huge Iowa State University sports fan. Lastly, I never want to go to jail – I’m convinced this stems from my fear of disappointing others.

This all got me to thinking –if I have the same personality I did 17 years ago, and we’re getting trained to acknowledge those traits in ourselves and others in the workforce – why aren’t we better at acknowledging the differences in the kiddos in our lives, so we are more equipped to help them succeed? In child development, we often refer to different personality types as ‘temperament.’

I like to think of temperament as a riddle – why do people act, think, and respond the way they do, and how can we make all the pieces fit together? Sometimes I, an emotional, social, person, have to stop and remind myself that my four year-old nephew might not like me demanding him for answers, but rather, might need to let him process while he plays alone with his toys before he responds. For my niece, the ultimate sass master, I can ask her a question and know what to expect (because she is exactly like me).

For more information on temperament and tools to work with a variety of small-but-mighty personalities, check out prior blog posts written by Lori and the team by searching ‘temperament’ in the search bar on our Science of Parenting site.

Side note – I’d love to hear stories of memorabilia you’ve found from your childhood!

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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Don’t Judge Me! I’m Busy Parenting!

Do you ever get the feeling people watch your every move and judge you? Well sometimes, while parenting, we can feel people’s eyes on us as we interact with our children. And, it is wonderful when our interactions with our children are positive, but that is not every day. We all have days that we are reminded how hard it is to be a parent. We are reminded that parenting is a skill set that grows with each passing day….

Recently, our Science of Parenting team began a new guidance and discipline ‘campaign’ because , well parenting in challenging moments is hard. Remaining calm, cool and collected is even harder. For months (many months) we talked about how we could help parents in the heat of the moment. How could we share with them that we understand their frustrations, challenges and even their fears? We wanted parents to know that “we get it”, “we’ve been there” and most of all “we are not here to judge your parenting”.

We began to write a long list of everything we ourselves had tried. We sifted and sorted and played with the words. And then we stepped back. We stopped. We began to take deep breaths and we talked. And it hit us. As parents, of children at any age (infants to grown children) THAT is how we can best handle parenting in challenging moments. No matter what our child is yelling, screaming or doing. We the adult, the parent can ALWAYS stop breathe and talk. We are the role models, we are their rock, we are their foundation of trust.

Our campaign for parenting in challenging moments looks like this:
Stop. Take a moment to think about how you really want to respond to your child.
Breathe. Consider what is happening with your emotions. Take a deep breathe or two to calm down.
Talk. Once you have gathered your thoughts, be intentional with your words to help guide your child toward the outcome you really want.

Parenting is difficult. We at Science of Parenting want you to know we understand that. We are here to help. Check out our resources at

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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Sticks and stones can break my bones …

The birthday party invitation that never arrived, the whispers by the hallway lockers, the cruel words written on Facebook – it has happened to us and it happens to our children. We know it hurts to be talked about or excluded from groups or activities. Now after listening to the December podcast I have a name to put with this – relational aggression.

Sarah Coyne defines relational aggression as any kind of mean behavior that aims to harm a relationship or the social structure of a group. This includes gossip, spreading rumors, exclusion and so forth. Do you remember the chant – sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never harm me? Well, wrong! Relational aggression can be just as harmful as physical aggression. The pain can linger and even last for years. I can remember incidents from my teen and college years and suspect you can also.

I think a place for parents to start is by being proactive. You don’t want your child to be aggressive in this way and you don’t want your child to be hurt by relational aggression.  Sarah talked about three things that parents need to address – and you may not like these.

Really pay attention to what you and your child watch on TV. Reality shows are popular but research points to the relational aggression that is so 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.

Then 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.

Ok – I realize I just gave you three things to give your attention to and none are easy. But we are talking about the pain that results from girls and boys being mean to each other. It is worth the effort to help children learn a better way of treating people. I, for one, would like to live in a world with a few less relational aggressive adults!

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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