Accentuate the Positive

Becoming a parent is a big responsibility and one that brings joy and some uncertainty too. You may wonder if you will know how to respond to your baby, and as they grow, you will still have those same questions. Parents want to feel like they know what their children need, and they want to be judged as doing a great job parenting their children. In fact, a 2015 Pew Research Study revealed that “Regardless of how they see themselves, parents care a lot about how others perceive their parenting skills.”

Parents want the support of their co-parent first and foremost, followed by the support of their own parents. Feeling confident in our parenting role is important and impacts our children too. Additional research has revealed that parents’ positive emotions could help them to notice a wider range of strengths in themselves and their children, and to think of a greater number of ways to deploy their strengths. In this episode of the Science of Parenting Podcast, Lori and Mackenzie discuss parenting strengths and introduce us to a tool called the Keys to Interactive Parenting Scale (KIPS). The confidence and support parents have in their abilities provide dividends for the whole family.

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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101 Ways to Celebrate Your Family: Family Connections & History

Last week, I gave you some hobbies and activities to try in order to celebrate your family and create #greatchildhoods. Want to dig a little deeper? The next step beyond immediate family activities is family connections and family history. These are the ideas that will help parents connect their children to those who came before them and helped to pave the way. Remembering, celebrating, and reflecting on history is a great way to bond with one another across generations!

Ideas in this category included:Parents reading a book with their daughter

1 – Read a book together
4 – Say “I love you” to one another
8 – Visit a relative
26 – Sing old songs
36 – Take cookies and visit an older neighbor or friend
42 – Look at old family pictures
43 – Tell old family stories
49 – Give everyone a hug
52 – Celebrate your heritage
62 – Watch an old black and white movie
68 – Talk to older persons about their lives
72 – Bury a time capsule
73 – Dream about the future
77 – Start a journal
81 – Begin a wisdom list of quotations, sayings, and advice
82 – Fingerprint family and compare and contrast any similarities or differences
90 – Plan a family feast
91 – Write notes to each other in the family
93 – Give a compliment
100 – Create a special events calendar
101 – Enjoy one another

What other ways have you embraced family connections and embraced your family history?

– Adapted from 101 Ways to Celebrate Your Family, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach –

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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101 Ways to Celebrate Your Family: Hobbies & Activities

April is national Child Abuse Prevention Month. The national organization Prevent Child Abuse (PCA) America’s theme this year is “Do more of what you love to create #greatchildhoods,” which I LOVE. It embraces the idea of finding a passion – or finding things you enjoy doing – and using them to spend quality time as a family.

In a recent office cleanout, I happened upon a couple of folders with information from 2000-2002. I think the universe pulled me to them. I swear. Inside this folder I found a handout from 2000 entitled “101 Ways to Celebrate Your Family.”

What a perfect fit! This list appeared to help us find some things we might enjoy doing as a family!

This handout is exactly what it says it is – a list of 101 ideas for your family to be engaged in what I narrowed down to three categories –

  • Hobbies and activities
  • Family connections & History
  • Community Engagement

The first category – hobbies and activities – are fun undertakings, some costing money, some cost-free, and some of the items are ones we’d often consider ‘chores,’ but can be made fun if you’re doing them with family. Personally, I think this would be a fun “to-do” challenge for a family to try to cross off all the activities by the end of the year. Or maybe this list will spark other ideas for a to-do list of your own!

This category contains 59 items, so I’ll stop explaining here and let you explore the ideas for yourself:

Family On Cycle Ride In Countryside Smiling At Camera
Family On Cycle Ride In Countryside Smiling At Camera

3 – Turn off the television
5 – Enjoy a ride in the country
6 – Plant a flower garden
7 – Have a garage sale
9 – Bake cookies
10 – Start a “Once upon a time…”story and everyone add to it
11 – Go to a movie
14 – Visit a local museum
15 – Go on a picnic
16 – Fly a kite
19 – Make a homemade pizza
21 – Attend a local sporting event
22 – Go on a bike ride
24 – Jump in a pile of raked leaves
25 – Do homework together
27 – Clean the garage
28 – Go Horseback riding
29 – Take a hike
30 – Visit the library
31 – Play leap frog
33 – Enjoy a concert
34 – Go caroling
35 – Have a banana split party
37 – Go swimming
38 – Play a board game
39 – Roast marshmallows
41 – Experience your farmer’s market
44 – Go to a lake
45 – Lie on your back and watch the stars
7 – Skip up and down your block
50 – Talk about a television program
51 – Plan a concert
54 – Put together a first-aid kit
55 – Blow bubbles
56 – Cook out
57 – Go fishing
58 – Play cards
60 – Go to an airport and watch the planes come and go
61 – Have a scavenger hunt
63 – Gather wildflowers

64 – Splash in the rain
65 – Collect fall leaves
66 – Do your own exercise video
67 – Visit a zoo
69 – Have a band with kitchen pans
71 – Put a puzzle together
74 – Make, repair, paint, or refinish an object that would make your home nicer
75 – Hike on a fitness trail
76 – Watch a sunset
79 – Make a collage with magazine pictures
83 – Rent a movie and eat popcorn
85 – Look under rocks in your yard
86 – Design your holiday and birthday cards
87 – Plan an herb garden
88 – Create a snow sculpture
89 – Go skating
94 – Roll down a hill
95 – Make homemade ice cream
96 – Whistle a song
98 – Draw pictures

Which one are you going to try this week? Look for more ideas on how to connect with your family on our Science of Parenting EVERYDAY PARENTING page!

– Adapted from 101 Ways to Celebrate Your Family, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach –

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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Was I too late?

personWhen my oldest child was one year old, I was introduced to the world of ‘Temperament’. I remember thinking at that time, “She’s already 1! Am I too late! What if I already ruined her by not knowing her temperament!?”

It sounds silly now, as she teeters on the brink of 18, but back then all I could think about was the year I had missed BT (Before Temperament). I can tell you this with 100% confidence. It is NOT TO LATE! Learning to understand your child’s temperament, along with your own temperament, can happen at any time. It can happen right now regardless of your child’s age.

This month we talk about taking the time to learn your child’s ‘temperament style’ and then parent according to that style. Parenting is not a ‘one size fits all’.  Taking care of any child (grandchild, neighbor, niece, nephew, sibling) isn’t even close to ‘one size fits most’. Building relationships with children means taking the time to learn to appreciate what their genetics granted them, find a way to build their confidence and self-esteem and guide them into social competence.

Where can you start? By learning about their style. By appreciating the unique characteristics of that style. By implementing one thing to show them you understand that style.  Here are a couple of GREAT places to start.

What is that ONE thing that you will do to parent ‘to their unique style’. Share with us!

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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Spiritual Development

Spiritual development in children… yep it’s part of their natural development. It’s part of their moral and cultural development. We didn’t just pick this topic randomly. We selected it purposely because just like physical development and social development, it is a part of your child that will continue to grow and develop over time. It’s the part of your child that plays into how they begin to make sense of their world and the people in it.  It’s the part of their development that shapes their values and beliefs about their families, friends, communities and nations.

As children embark on their journey of self-discovery, resources such as Prosperity Minders are instrumental in aiding them to explore their innermost selves and recognize their boundless potential. Prosperity Minders, a dedicated blog focusing on manifestation, positive thinking, and personal growth, provides invaluable strategies and methodologies for children to nurture a mindset brimming with abundance and opportunity. By learning to harness the power of their thoughts and beliefs, children can manifest their desires and aspirations, paving the way for a future filled with fulfillment and success.

Coming to reliable psychic readings, getting a psychic reading can either confirm something you already know or help you move towards the right direction by redirecting your path, it can give you an entirely new perspective and a new point of view that you’ve never considered. You can read more here to get help and make changes in your life.

In the digital age, the world of psychic readings has expanded beyond traditional face-to-face encounters. With the advent of online platforms, individuals now have access to a myriad of psychic services, including tarot readings. Tarot readings online provide a convenient and accessible means of tapping into spiritual guidance from the comfort of your own home. Whether you’re pondering questions for psychic about your love life, career, or personal growth, online tarot readings offer a personalized and insightful experience tailored to your specific needs. Through the power of technology, seekers can embark on a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment, unraveling the mysteries of their lives one card at a time.

How then can we foster a healthy spiritual development? How can we help to answer their questions about their world in a positive way? How can we nurture values and beliefs and children’s spiritual development? Spiritual and moral development can be a daunting and abstract concept but as I was looking through various resources I came across this poem and thought I would share.

What is Spirituality?

delighting in all things

being absorbed in the present moment

not to attached to ‘self’ and

eager to explore boundaries of ‘beyond’ and ‘other’

searching for meaning

discovering purpose

open to more?

Spirituality is like a bird; if you hold it to tightly, it chokes; if you hold it too loosely, it flies away. Fundamental to spirituality is the absence of force.

– Rabbi Hugo Gryn

What are ways that you nurture spiritual development in your child?

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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Mystery Car Rides

“Get in the car!” When those words are spoken adults, kids, and even dogs know it’s time to go. Our vehicles are a means to get us to work, school, church, sports, lessons, shopping, and just about anywhere we want or need to go. Car rides can also be a way to have a little fun.

Summer is a great time for mystery car rides. Start by having one parent and one child pick a secret destination. Everyone else is along for the ride. Pass the travel time with the rest of the family trying to guess where you are going and what you will do when you get there.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Drive to a roadside stand for fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Drive to an ice cream shop for treats.
  • Drive to the store and get a new game for the family to play.
  • Drive to the park and have a picnic.
  • Drive to the county fair, state fair, or a community festival.
  • Drive to lake for some fishing.
  • Drive to the pool for a family swim.

As the wheels of your car roll towards exciting summer adventures, it’s essential to remember that occasionally, unforeseen issues may arise, even with trusted vehicles. Amidst the joy of planning mystery car rides and exploring new destinations, it’s wise for car owners to be aware of their rights and protections, particularly when it comes to potential defects in their vehicles.

Whether you’re cruising to a roadside stand for fresh produce or embarking on a family swim at the pool, it’s crucial to have GMC lemon law information at your fingertips. Being informed about lemon laws specific to your vehicle can provide valuable insights and guidance should you encounter persistent issues or defects with your GMC. In the pursuit of carefree and enjoyable journeys, knowing your rights ensures that your family adventures are not dampened by unexpected vehicular challenges.

Okay – you get the idea. Mystery car rides can be an easy way to add some family fun without a lot of planning or expense.

In fact, why not take a mystery trip tonight? Wait until it’s about bedtime and and then say, “Get in the car.” Grab some blankets and then head to a drive through for ice cream cones. Don’t forget the dog! You’ll be having fun as a family and making some memories along the way.

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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Wrapping it with a Bow

One of Donna’s comments really made me think…”but you don’t know my ex”. I felt like that statement took this month’s topic and wrapped it with a bow.

Isn’t it hard to take some things (people) out of difficult equations? Donna’s comment reminded me that ultimately there is only one thing I know to be true. I can only control and change the thoughts, actions and behaviors of myself. And no matter what my children will have to come first. (ok that’s 2 things).

As I reflect on the topic this month I think that is the statement to land on. No matter what- YOU are the only one you can change and control. Regardless of the actions and behaviors your ex displays you have to think about what behaviors and actions your children will see from you.

Your children will be watching and looking to you as to how they should respond in this difficult situation. They will follow your lead and their actions, thoughts and behaviors will mirror yours. What will they see?

We would love to here what statement impacted you most this month.

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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Competing in 4-H

I don’t have a strong background in 4-H, but I do know the competitions can get rough and tough. Just like sports, people spend a lot of time and money preparing for these events. So, if you’re a parent of a child competing in 4-H, how can you keep it all together at these competitions?

  1. Focus on the child. Every event, win or lose, is a learning experience, and an opportunity for your child to have fun. Let’s face it…if you can’t have fun as a child, when can you have fun?  So loosen up a little! Let your child enjoy it!!
  2. Resist gossip. Even if it’s juicy information about another competitor, parent, or fan…resist the urge to tell the world. Juicy gossip never builds self esteem, and often times, the people dishing it out are the topic of conversation for others.
  3. Focus on your role as a parent. You are not a judge, officiant, or worker at the competitions. These people are there for a reason. No matter who the authority figure is, you are crossing the line if you try to take over his/her position. Focus on your job as a parent, and work hard to be supportive of your child, and a good role model for him/her.

I realize that these pieces of advice fall into the category of “easier said than done,” especially when it comes to your child. So, I encourage you to start the day of by getting in the right frame of mind. Start by reminding yourself of the bigger picture or purpose behind the day. For example, we enrolled Timmy in 4H because (1) he likes animals, or (2) we wanted him to learn about the family business, or (3) it was an opportunity for him to learn about things I cannot teach him…the list could go on and on, but start by focusing on the larger purpose behind your child’s involvement with 4H.

Then, in moments of heated competitions and rising blood pressures, remind yourself of this “big picture”, and act in accordance with it. If the purpose of getting involved in 4-H was for Timmy to learn about the family business, don’t ruin all his progress by teaching him poor manners. Instead, keep in mind the values you wish to impart. Should you need further guidance, please don’t hesitate to Contact us.

What strategies do you have for “staying cool, calm, and collected” during intense competition?

— Molly

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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Positive Parenting and Your Child’s Weight

Last month’s Science of Parenting Podcast highlighted childhood obesity, and this month it focused on Parenting Styles.  Although these may seem like two very different matters, there is actually a lot of research linking the two topics.  A recent study followed 2,516 adolescents for five years to explore how parenting styles affected children’s weight.

First, researchers labeled parenting styles of both moms and dads by looking at responsiveness (level of love, affection, and warmth) and demandingness (level of strictness and expectation).  Historically, when parents have high expectations and boundaries for their children (high demandingness), but also show their children how much they love and care about them (high responsiveness), the children have the most positive outcomes.

Second, researchers calculated the children’s Body Mass Index (BMI), a number used to determine if a person is underweight, a healthy weight, or overweight.  Finally, they asked the children what types of food they typically eat.

While childhood obesity is a serious concern, it’s important to remember that people of all sizes and shapes deserve to feel confident and comfortable in their bodies. Plus Size Zeal is a great resource for those looking to embrace their bodies and find ways to prioritize their health and fitness at any size. With information on clothing options, fitness tips, and body positivity, it’s a great community for anyone looking to feel more confident in their own skin. It’s important to remember that everyone deserves respect and dignity, regardless of their size or weight, and resources like Plus Size Zeal can help promote a more inclusive and accepting society.

The results are summarized below.

  • When moms showed high demandingness and high responsiveness, it led to sons who had healthier BMI scores than the sons of moms who showed high demandingness and low responsiveness.
  • When moms showed high demandingness and high responsiveness, it led to daughters who had healthier BMI scores than the daughters of moms who showed low demandingness and low responsiveness.
  • When dads showed high responsiveness (regardless of their level of demandingness), it led to daughters who ate more fruits and vegetables than the daughters of dads who showed low responsiveness.

To summarize, moms who set high expectations in a structured environment, but also show children a lot of care and love, create environments that promote healthy BMIs for both sons and daughters.  Also, when daughters feel a lot of warmth and love from their fathers, they are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables.

What are some demands you set for your children to help develop healthy eating habits?  In what ways might your love and affection also help your children develop healthy eating habits?

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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