Help we are all inside-TOGETHER! Stop. Breathe. Talk.

oP Stop. Breathe. Talk.

Those of us here at the Science of Parenting are snuggled deep in our blankets and sweaters. Realizing that most of you probably were too, we decided that it might be a good time to revisit the idea of Stop. Breathe. Talk. With the long cold spell and the possibility of cancelled events and schools there may be a multitude of people inhabiting enclosed spaces and perhaps even getting on each other’s nerves. Full disclosure my children are all at home and currently not speaking to each other for this very reason. I decided that not only could I implement Stop. Breathe. Talk. myself (model it for my children), but I could also actually TEACH them the technique. I realize that yes, my children are teens and are better able to understand and logically (sort of) think through the process, but honestly even when they were younger I utilized the technique as well. It just didn’t have the NAME then. It is always OK to help a child at any age learn to stop and take a deep breathe to help calm them down.

 

Stop. Actively recognizing that the situation or current moment has to change. This is a conscious decision to change the direction of thoughts, emotions and behaviors. We just plain recognize that something right this second has to change. And it starts with us.

Breathe. Literally showing them the biggest deepest breathe you can (because they need to SEE you do it) can slow their heart rate (and yours) in a way that can begin to cool down the intense moments.

Talk. Finding and using the calm, cool, collected voice also helps to reduce the tension in the shoulders and jaw allowing the opportunity for our face to show a sense of peace.

Guidance and discipline, when intentionally planned in thought and action, can be effective for your family. Remember to look through our resources on the science of website parenting to see how you can be purposeful with your child. Also check out our resources for parenting teens. And in the meantime, STAY SAFE AND WARM!

 

 

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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Connecting Home and School

Did you finally get all of the school events in your personal calendar? Have you purchased the last minute supply requests? Often we focus on getting children ready for school to start that we overlook how we can continue to support the school learning while at home.

Dare to Excel is a resource, available in both Spanish and English. Created by ISU Extension and Outreach this resource provides families with ideas on how to extend the school learning while at-home. Monthly newsletters,  September through May, feature the seven Proven Parenting Practices that research has shown helps children become better learners.

 

Download the newsletters below or share the links with your friends, family and schools.

Let us know if you did any of the activities and what learning you were able to extend.

Connecting School and Home- Dare to Excel

Children spend many hours at school. Creating positive school/family connections are vital to school success.  Also available in Spanish.

Find more resources at Everyday Parenting

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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Back To School Communication

As children prepare to head back to school, parents are getting ready as well. Buying school supplies, registering their children for activities and arranging for transportation are among the activities on many parents’ to-do list. However, another necessary item for back-to-school planning is open communication, which will ease everyone’s first-day nerves.

All children will not react the same way to the beginning of the new school year. Set aside some time to talk with your child about the upcoming year.

Parents take the time to ask your children what excites them about the beginning of the new school year, and what they may be curious or worried about.

If your child is anxious about school, acknowledge those feelings. Remind your child that you are always available to talk through any situations that may be worrisome. The time you spend communicating will help to alleviate fears that both of you may be feeling.

Let me provide a few helpful suggestions:

  • Remind your children that you care for them and are proud of the many new things they are learning and accomplishing.
  • Try to find some alone time with each child to explore the day’s happenings and how he or she is adjusting to school.
  • Family mealtime offers another opportunity to explore the school day.
  • Talk about your expectations, but offer support and guidance. Let your child know that you are open to solving problems together.
  • An older sibling also may provide support and information about school transition.
  • Establish a good relationship with your child’s teacher. When you have concerns, check-in with your child’s teacher to get a wider perspective.

A new school year brings opportunities to participate in many activities. Be aware that over scheduling can increase stress for everyone.

As a family, make some decisions about after-school activities that are meaningful to your children and that make good sense with the time available.

When you communicate and plan together, the new school year can be a year of success.

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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Back to School – Start the Conversation

It’s officially August! That means that back-to-school sales are in full swing and are serving as an ever-present reminder that summer is ending soon. Maybe for some of you this is a relief as you’re ready to get back to a regular routine, but maybe for others you are dreading your kiddos heading back-to-school. Either way, the reality is that it is coming (and probably sooner than we think).

So as if the back-to-school sales and the new AUGUST calendar page aren’t reminder enough, we here at the Science of Parenting blog wanted to get your wheels turning on it too! We have one simple reminder or suggestion for you to consider in order to make the back-to-school transition go a little smoother– start communicating about how things will be different when school starts, BEFORE school starts J

Growing up in my family we usually had these conversations over a “family meeting” where everyone was present and knew we would be having the conversation. Find a way that works for you family to have these important conversations. Here’s a few things you may want to consider discussing around the back-to-school transition:

  1. Logistics, especially things like…
    • What kinds of activities will any of your kids be doing beyond attending school (soccer, theater, chess club, etc.),
    • What time kids need to be at school or any extra activities,
    • Plans are for transportation,
    • Daily routines (who gets up first, who showers in the evening vs morning, bedtimes, etc.)
  2. Family plans and goals
    • Is there anything your family wants to do together during the school year? Maybe you’re looking at preparing more meals in advance, or finding time every week to have an hour where everyone is together, or maybe trying out a new hobby as family.
  3. Give your child a chance to ask questions
    • Having conversations ahead of time gives your child several opportunities to ask any questions they may have. Maybe your school age child needs some clarification on where they go after school? Or maybe your teenager wants to talk to you about a some new privileges this year? Either way, having a time when you kids get the chance to ask their questions in a positive environment can help everyone get in the right mindset.

Consider starting the back-to-school conversation soon to make the transition for your family a smooth one!

Mackenzie Johnson

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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The Role of Parents in Mental Health and Trauma Therapy

 

This week we welcome guest blogger Erin Neill. Erin is a doctoral student in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Iowa State University. She is also a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in Washington, DC. Erin is passionate about all things mental health.

 

 

Events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorism, abuse, and neglect are all examples of traumatic experiences that many children in our country and around the world experience on a daily basis. Experiencing a traumatic event leads to poor outcomes for children, including acting out, poor school performance, substance abuse, and mental health issues such as posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Fortunately, we know that there are effective treatments for childhood PTSD. One of those treatments is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. But what we don’t know is exactly how, or why, or for whom CBT works best. We need more information about this. For children we want to know, what is the role of parents?

There is some research that suggests that children and parents have a reciprocal relationship. That is, children and parents interact with each other to affect how CBT treatment is working. So far, however, there have been very few studies that show this type of relationship.

In my research, I looked at data for children who had experienced a traumatic event and developed PTSD as a result. These children, and only the children, attended 12 weeks of a CBT intervention. We also asked moms (who brought their children to treatment each week) to report on their child’s PTSD sympto
ms as well as their own maternal depression symptoms.

The most exciting finding was that even though the moms did not receive any treatment themselves, their depression symptoms decreased significantly over the course of their child’s treatment. But even more, they were part of the reason that their child got better over time. I found that it wasn’t just that child PTSD symptoms decreased over time, or because of the treatment, but at least part of the reason that kids’ PTSD symptoms decreased was because the moms’ depression decreased as well. I also found a reciprocal relationship; Part of the reason that moms’ depression symptoms decreased over time was because of their child’s PTSD symptom decrease.

This data provides evidence that moms and children really are affecting each other’s mental health. This is important to know, because if only one person can attend treatment, we know that therapy can affect the mental health of the dyad and of the family system.

This is just one step in learning how, and why, and for whom these treatments work. We continue to need more research in this area because children will continue to experience traumatic events, and they deserve effective treatments.

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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Classroom Strategies to Support Special Needs Children

iStock_000005759838Small[1]Downs_1 copyThe beginning of the new school year can be an anxious time for parents of a child with special needs. Parents may worry about whether their child will be accepted into a new classroom. They may also worry about their child’s classmates and the teacher that is assigned. The school year is a long time, so every child deserves an environment that is suitable for learning and growing.
All children have the need for belonging, and yet, for children with special needs, they can often be left out by their classmates or left behind in their classroom studies. Having a learning disability doesn’t mean a child cannot learn, it simply means, the approach a teacher takes must be intentional so that the child CAN learn.

A few strategies that can make a big difference in the classroom include:

  • limiting distractions – teachers who are organized ahead of time, who can limit the number of interruptions or distractions can help a child stay focused on the learning.
  • breakdown instructions – teachers who will keep instructions short and who will repeat the instructions help students who need that reinforcement.
  • devise opportunities for students success. It may not seem important, but when students with special needs experience success in the classroom, it creates excitement that will reinforce their desire to try again! It is the support of the teacher, acknowledging student success that can make all the difference.

So parents, as school draws near, advocate for your child and watch your student succeed!

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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Parents take lead for summer learning

A child only educated at school is an uneducated child. —George Santavana

School is out and many educational experts would say learning is on hold.    So parents…… it’s up to you!   Remember, learning doesn’t just happen in a classroom.  How, and when do children learn?   Learning…can be anytime, anywhere, on demand and individualized.  Parents as their child’s first and foremost teacher can be in a position to assist their child in 24/7 learning.    Learning is most optimal when it can be as individualized as the kid.  Teachers know that this is important, but struggle to achieve this with increased class sizes and academic achievement.  But parents can, if they take on the challenge.  With a little planning and researching, parents can fill their child’s day with many brain boosting activities and strategies.

To quote philosopher George Santavana—“A child only educated at school is an educated child”.  Lifelong learning goes far beyond the classroom setting and summer can be the perfect time to set your child on a journey to authentic learning.  Let’s start with the notion that learning can and should be fun.  Ideally, we can learn to capitalize on our child’s ideal learning style.  Many kids prefer hands on learning and traditional classroom teachers are challenged to find the time and resources to provide learning activities are geared for hands on learners.  Hands on learning can be both academic and fun.

As parents always remember to vary activities.  Remember that a little fresh air is the best way to wake up a sleepy summer brain. Get them outside. Get them moving. Keep them reading. Keep them learning.  Summer can be a great time to discover music, attend outdoor concerts, boost music lessons, write songs, make instruments or try a new instrument.  Consider an outdoor talent show in your neighborhood.

Make your home “learning friendly”—fill with books, newspapers, games, how to manuals, magazines,  and access to the internet. Be a learner yourself.  Let your kids see you researching how to do things, and see you reading.   Remember to TALK.  Ask questions. Ask probing questions for deeper meaning and thoughts.  Challenge each other.   Learn from each other.

It has also been said that “Necessity is also the mother of invention”.  Consider a hands-on project and the research that is necessary to complete it.  My son-Cole has been a project kid.  We have learned all sorts of things through his persistence and ongoing projects.   We have taken on projects like survival skills including:  catching water in a catchment system, making char cloth, constructing a fish trap, creating snares, beekeeping,  willow whistles, blacksmithing techniques,  fishing lures and fly-tying—(flies mimic insects actually found in nature, understanding of fish and entomology) as well as the perfect homemade dough bait prepared in my kitchen! We attempted engineering challenges like catapult creations, mobile ice house construction,   leather making, knots and lashings, and coin collecting—just to name of view of his own-going learning bucket list.  Has he traveled this learning journey alone?  No—his father and I have learned alongside.  As a parent I have also learned to take his lead.  I’ve learned to support and encourage what he is interested in.  As parents we have learned that lifelong learning is about giving kids learning experiences.  It’s about asking questions.  It’s about being mindful and observing their interests.  It’s about letting them fail and learning from those failures.  It’s about encouraging curiosity and not squelching ideas.  It’s about asking thinking questions.  It’s about knowing your child and where their interests lie.

Take time this summer to look at learning as a life time of exploration not only for your child but for yourself.  Learning shouldn’t be a chore!    Take time to let learn with your child!

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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Summer Vacation Time

Juggling work schedules, kids’ commitments and the family budget may make some parents wonder if a family vacation is worth the effort. But before giving up, consider this: the kids might learn something from the experience. Families take vacations for many reasons – to spend time together, have some fun, or rest and relax. However, research shows these opportunities to visit other people and places and see something new can actually boost your child’s academic achievement.

Join us during June as we talk about summer vacations and academic achievement.

 

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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Get a clue…

Hmmm so I wondered after the last blog about myself and my children. I checked out the resources that Donna listed and am sharing here four of the clues to overindulging children. You can find the research and resources here….   4 Clues to Overindulgence

Instead of sharing with you the questions, I am going to share with you the examples.

  • My five-year-old has toys in every room of the house, but he is always begging for new toys.
  • My ten-year-old’s clothes closet is bulging with garments, but she can’t find anything to wear to school in the morning.
  • My 13-year-old has a heavy after-school activity schedule every day and all day Saturday. We want to keep him occupied so he won’t get into drugs.
  • My 17-year-old loves the computer and video games. He spends all of his time looking at the screen. He isn’t interested in sports, and it is a struggle to get him to exercise. I’m afraid he stays up half the night.

I encourage you to go view the questions. Then come back here and share your thought with us!

They made me think.

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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A Note from the Teacher

“I have a note for you from my teacher” are not the words a parent usually likes to hear from their child. Or perhaps you get an email asking you to stop by the school. Before your radar sets off, take a deep breath. Sometimes teachers contact parents if their child has done really well. Other times the call comes because there is a problem. It’s important to remember your child’s teacher will have information about what aspects of her work are creating a problem. The teacher can tell you if your child is not paying attention, not participating in class, or not completing homework.

It’s also a good idea for you to initiate a conversation with teachers early in the school year about expectations. Find out how often homework will be given, when it is due, and how you will find out your child’s progress. Some teachers have a system they follow for assigning homework – assignment notebooks, folders, sign-off sheets. Discover what the teachers want and then do your part to be supportive.

I hear parents talking about how much homework their children have and if it’s a reasonable amount. That’s a good question and can vary depending upon school systems, teachers, and children’s ages. Harris Cooper, Director of Duke’s Program in Education says research is consistent with the “10-minute” rule” suggesting the optimum amount of homework a teacher should assign. Before anyone gets too excited, let me explain. It is a commonly accepted practice in which teachers add 10 minutes of homework as students progress one grade. For example, a first grader would have 10 minutes of homework while that 6th grader could handle 60 minutes.

What do you think about the 10 minute rule? Have you had a conversation with your child’s teachers about homework expectations this school year?

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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School Success and Grandparents

Grandparents have always been an important part of children’s lives. In fact,  many schools celebrated grandparents day on Sept 9th this year. In celebration of grandparents and in keeping with the theme of school success for our September podcast and blog  (www.scienceofparenting.org), here are a few tips on how grandparents can help children this school year.

  • Ask. But ask specifically!  Rather than ask how school is going, be specific. Ask children what book they are reading, what their favorite part of the school day is, or what they are studying in a particular subject.
  • Praise. Not for their accomplishments but for their EFFORT! Praise them for the long hours they put into their studies. For eating that breakfast that helps their brain or simply for sharing their activities with grandpa and grandma!
  • Participate.  Visit or volunteer for activities or functions. Be a guest speaker. Or even join the class online blogs and discussion boards.
  • Read. Share stories both written and verbal with your grandchild. Write them notes, letters or emails.
  • Plan. Encourage your grandchildren to think about their future plans and goals. Let your grandkids know you believe in them and the importance of trying their best.

“If you as a grandparent are raising your grandchildren, remember that it is important to know the child’s school and teachers. Get involved in your grandchildren’s homework, make school work a priority and stay in contact with the school.”

How have grandparents impacted your child’s school success?

Happy Fall!

For more information see the link below on Grandparents and School Success: http://www.extension.org/pages/20318/grandparents-can-contribute-to-childrens-school-success

Check out the recorded Parenting Webinar on Helping Children Succeed in School!

https://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/scienceofparenting/webinars/

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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The Dog Ate My Homework!

Ok, maybe your kids haven’t used that excuse, but homework has a way of getting lost. Misplaced homework is often the result of not having an organized study space for kids. My guess is that you purchased school supplies and some new clothes for back-to-school. But did you help your child create an inviting spot to study?

I remember doing my homework at the kitchen table and any reading in my bedroom. That seemed to meet my needs for concentration. Students have different needs. Some are easily distracted. Others don’t seem to be bothered by noise or activity. Talk with your child about his preferences. Add in what you know about him and then together set up the study area.

Kids need a desk or table with a comfortable chair. It’s important to have enough space for a computer, books, papers, and any other materials being used. Be sure there is good lighting and some type of storage. Perhaps you can designate a book shelf, filing cabinet, specific drawers, or even plastic containers. Then add the necessary school supplies – pencils, pens, markers, tape, glue, rulers, etc.  – so everything your student needs is in one place.

If this is a “dedicated” study space, think about adding color with wall paint, pictures, or posters. The idea is to make this an inviting place.

Would you want to go to work every day and not have a place to do your work? I’m guessing the answer is no. What ideas do you have for creating a study spot for your child?

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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We Did It!

The first Science of Parenting webinar aired Monday night. We enjoyed interacting with parents, grandparents, and others about Helping Your Child Succeed in School.

We recorded the webinar and it is now available for you to watch at your convenience. Just go to the top of this page and click on the “webinars” button on the left side.

At the end of the webinar we asked participants to share ideas for topics they would like to see addressed in future podcasts, blogs, and webinars. Your ideas are always welcome. Just send them via a blog entry.

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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School Success…Let’s get started!

This month we are focusing on how to get the school year started right!

The short podcast gives a few ideas on homework and we are having an evening webinar on Monday the 10th of September to add more ideas to create success!  Listen to the podcast and join us on the 10th!

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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Can We Focus Please

Do you ever having trouble remembering something you just read? Or you’ve already forgotten what you did five minutes ago or plan to do next? Happens to me way too often and I’m always telling myself, “Focus Donna.”

When I listened to the podcast I heard the “focus” word loud and clear. We’re told that focus has a lot to do with what we remember. In the classroom the teacher has to first get a child’s attention before he can teach a new concept. As a parent you have to get your child’s attention before you can even have a conversation.

Then the next step is to do something to elaborate on what was learned. This points out the need for enrichment activities to take learning to a higher level.

For example, let’s say your child just learned fractions. What can you do to enrich the concept? One idea is to have him help you bake his favorite cookies. He will soon be using those fractions with the measuring cups and spoons. Perhaps an older child is wrestling with active and passive verbs. She can elaborate on the definitions by writing a short story.

Focus and enrich – two simple words and concepts that are so important when it comes to learning. First we must remember and then we use or practice what we learned. What do you do to help yourself focus and remember? What have you found helpful in extending and enriching your child’s lessons?

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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