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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Celebrating Thanksgiving

Beautiful African American woman and her daughter cooking in the kitchen

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, Science of Parenting would like to offer you a few resources to assist you in creating a memorable holiday for your family. Many families celebrate Thanksgiving by preparing foods that are not only traditional but that are meaningful to members of the family. Recipes passed down through the generations and lovingly prepared by relatives who gather to celebrate with one another. May we suggest a review of our Iowa State University Spend Smart Eat Smart website for a whole host of recipes including videos to help you prepare for your meal.

When the house is full of family, friends and extra guests, children may feel overwhelmed. Keeping a schedule, familiar to the children, will help them manage the holiday expectations more smoothly. We do have a resource you might review, Managing Stress in Young Families.

Giving thanks for one another and for our gifts may be another family tradition . Showing appreciation to one another is one way we can model good thanksgiving habits! Calling someone by name, sending a greeting card of thanks, doing a favor for someone and simply doing what we say we will do are all ways of showing appreciation for one another.

This Thanksgiving, think of a way to give thanks on a daily basis! Who are the people in your life that you love and appreciate? Who are the people that cheer you on, encourage you to do your best, support and guide you through the rough patches? If you can begin to show appreciation to these folks, giving thanks will become a habit.

As a Science of Parenting Team, we thank you for interacting with us and wish you a wonderful holiday.

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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Practice Kindness Today

 

Smiling School Age Girl Holding Globe

We thank our guest blogger, Cheryl Clark, a human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach for reminding us about kindness and its impact on those around us!

Another day, another act of incivility, anger or violence. Ever-pervasive attitudes of self-centeredness and disregard for others seem to symbolize our times. But what if we could flip the script from callousness to kindness?

Did you know, Nov. 13 is World Kindness Day, according to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation? The internationally recognized nonprofit provides free online resources to educators and others to encourage acts of kindness across the globe.

“Simply be kind,” said Clark. “Remember the old adage of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. This can help us more fully appreciate the unique and diverse aspects of our world.”

The Center for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity at the University of Missouri suggests that people seek first to understand. For example:

  • Read a book about a different person, culture, country or experience.
  • Listen to local, regional, international or a different genre of music.
  • Explore your heritage, family history and personal cultural worldview.
  • Visit a local cultural center.
  • Interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures by becoming a language partner.
  • Challenge yourself to learn 10 new words in another language.

For more ideas from the center, visit diversity.missouri.edu.

“Another critical component to kindness is how we speak to and about each other. Being respectful of self and others in our words and actions is living kindness,” Clark said.

Clark offers the following techniques to build an atmosphere of respect:

  • Listen to others actively and intentionally.
  • Speak from personal experience and use “I” statements.
  • Withhold judgment and ask genuine questions for understanding.
  • Check your biases and assumptions.
  • Seek to understand your own communication and conflict style.

“Finally, take good care of yourself. This may seem to be at odds with ‘making the world a better place.’ However, we must care for ourselves in order to have the stamina, energy and desire to live kindness. Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, connect with friends or family, and engage in spiritual practices,” Clark said.

“If you find yourself overwhelmed with the negativity, seek professional help. A counselor can help you in a trusting, non-judgmental setting. Call Iowa Concern at 800-447-1985 for help,” Clark said.

ISU Extension and Outreach’s Iowa Concern hotline provides access to stress counselors and an attorney for legal education, as well as information and referral services for a wide variety of topics. With a toll-free phone number, live chat capabilities and a website, Iowa Concern services are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week at no charge.

In addition, “All About Stress: Taking Charge (PM1660 A)” is available for free download from the Extension Store. The publication offers tips for coping with stress, managing stress and building resources to help.

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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Did you say STRESS?

We have been talking teens, and that means we may also need to talk about the “s” word…also known as STRESS! While stress can take many forms and it can be considered both positive and negative, all of us, at one time or another, have probably experienced stress! You know the feeling, your heart starts to beat a little faster, you may begin to sweat just a bit, you let your mind wander and before you know it, you may even be close to panic mode.

Over time, each of us has to find an appropriate set of coping techniques to use so that when we feel a little panicked, or stressed, we can indeed cope! None of us likes to feel out of control, so being able to manage our stress is a skill that is worth its weight in gold. There are many healthy ways to manage and cope with stress, but they all require change. You can either change the situation or change your reaction.

Some folks have used exercise as an antidote! People who exercise regularly will tell you how much better they feel. They will also tell you that the energy they derive from exercise can be used to “think through” or manage the stress that comes their way. If you were to park your car as far away from the entrance to the buildings you go into, that would be one way to increase your exercise. If you were to take the steps, and not the elevator, that too would increase your opportunity to get a little exercise. Do you like to dance, or do Yoga, or to meditate? These are also examples of coping techniques and exercise strategies that can be helpful in overcoming stress.

Parenting can be stressful and at Science of Parenting, we take pride in providing resources and education that can assist anyone manage and cope with the stress they encounter. Begin your stress relief journey by visiting our parenting in challenging moments link https://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/scienceofparenting/guidance/

We are committed to empowering people and growing lives!

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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The Stress of Special Needs

iStock_000005759838Small[1]Downs_1 copyThe demands of parenting often are multiplied for parents of children with special health and behavioral needs. However, these parents will be better able to provide care for their children if they also take care of themselves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 15 percent of U.S. families have a chronically ill child with special health needs. The extra demands cause stress that affects the whole family.

Caring for a child with special needs can require additional time, which can mean you have less time for your other children, your spouse or aging parents, who also need your attention. Maybe you’ve been criticized or judged by others who simply do not understand your child’s condition. You may feel isolated from other parents, because how could people who don’t have a child with special needs possibly know what you are going through?  Parents often are trying to learn about their child’s disability and find treatments and resources. They’re coping with the emotional and physical challenges of providing care as they coordinate healthcare treatments, advocate for their child and pay for necessary services. No wonder parents of children with special needs often are exhausted and even depressed,

Join us this month as we self-care tips and resources that can help parents cope. We will discuss ways that family members can support each other and we’ll also talk about when and how to reach out for assistance. In addition we will explore resources for reducing stress that are available through ISU Extension and Outreach.

August 2016

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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What Do Children Really Want? What Do They Really Need?

Beautiful little girl child with shopping colorful paper bags in

The cost of raising children is expensive.    It’s an art and  a skill to balance the child’s wants, needs, and desires, with your financial means.  But, sadly the emotional and social impacts of these decisions is often ignored. The parent experiences stress and the child-parent relationship is sacrificed for increased work hours in order to provide.  We have to wonder is the cost worth it?

What children really desire is a close personal relationship with their parent, and because parents are often overextended, parents tend to compensate for their absence utilizing their wallet. They buy, and buy and buy, and might just over extend their bank account. What children and teens really want is attention from their parents. So the next time you feel compelled to purchase something that your child might not really need, instead, schedule some one on one time and consider the cost: PRICELESS!

 

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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Follow Me:
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Balancing Life and Parenting

Many parents report feeling rushed, stressed and unable to do everything they have to do at work and at home. However, parents don’t have to live with constant chaos if they take care of themselves first. In an emergency on an airplane, the first rule is to put on your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else. Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others. That’s true in parenting, too. Caring for yourself is one of the most important — and most often forgotten — things you can do as a parent.

Join us this month as we will explores way to prioritize parenting responsibilities and avoid parenting stress. We also will share ideas on fun breaks you can take that will refresh your parenting ability.

Related Resources

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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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Break the Cycle of Childhood Trauma

lonelinessMore than half of us grew up in families that were marked with challenges, but we don’t have to pass those experiences on to the next generation. The cycle can be broken by developing safe, stable and nurturing relationships that heal the parent and the child. The keys to success are developing healthy relationships and building resiliency.

Traumatic, or adverse, childhood experiences can include neglect as well as physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Other family issues that can contribute to a traumatic childhood include substance abuse, divorce, hunger, domestic violence, mental illness and incarceration.

Children who are exposed to many adverse childhood experiences may become overloaded with stress hormones, leaving them in a constant state of fight or flight and unable to focus. They learn adaptive and coping behaviors in response to these experiences.

This month we will discuss ways to build resiliency in children. We also will discuss ways that communities can begin to support all children and families in reducing the incidence and impact of adverse childhood experiences.

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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Helping Kids Understand Health Threats

Daily news reports about Ebola infections, quarantines and death may have children worried that they may be stricken by this disease or other illnesses. Research shows that too much unsupervised media viewing can cause children unneeded and unintentional stress and fear. One way to alleviate that fear is to talk to your children about what they’re seeing and hearing in the news. Find out what they know and what questions they would like answered.

In November, join us as we blog about ways that parents can reduce children’s anxiousness related to health threats like Ebola. We also will look at how parents can use the situation to teach children important skills about illness prevention and world health issues.

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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Delete…Re-Write…Stuck Brain

So I wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote again this blog. I think I just couldn’t decide what it should really be about. Should it be about brain development like the podcast? Should it be about learning to breathe like Kristi’s last blog? Or should it be about Thanksgiving because that is what happening right now? Nothing came to me. I even contemplated calling Donna and begging for her to take this week for me.

Was this writer’s block? (or is it bloggers block?) I was overwhelmed and stuck. My brain wouldn’t budge. I wondered if that’s what’s it like when kids become overwhelmed with everything that goes on over these next several weeks. Their brain becomes blocked. With all the hustle and bustle and here and there and fast and slow I wondered if their brain becomes so overwhelmed that they to end up wanting to  ‘delete and re-write’ like I did. Not literally writing and deleting but more through their behaviors, actions and words. Maybe there is more crying and clinging? Maybe there is interrupted sleep and more aggression. Whatever it is their brain is overwhelmed and stuck with all of the busy-ness of the adults in their lives.

As we look ahead to the next several weeks I think it becomes important to remember the brain development podcast – we are in charge of growing their brains. Be kind and gentle to their brain. Understand that all of this busy-ness may overwhelm their brain to the point of ‘waving the white flag melt-downs’. Remember to breathe over the next several weeks AND breathe with your children. They are never too young to learn to take a deep breath for relaxation. And finally ponder what the whole holiday season means for you and your family. Share those thoughts outloud with them as you walk through the next several weeks together.

How has your child shown you when their brain is stuck? What have you done to help them get through it?

I’m not deleting and re-writing this one……  🙂

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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1, 2, 3 B-R-E-A-T-H-E……

As we come into the busy-ness of the holiday season, we asked a special guest blogger (Kristi Cooper) with expertise in stress relieving techniques, to help us share some thoughts with you on how to breathe more through the next couple of months.

I remember being so frustrated at not being able to calm a crying baby that I walked outside and around the house several times before I was calm!  Stress levels rise for parents and children for a variety of reasons.  Children take their cues from parents and when parents’ are feeling out of control, children will sense the stress and respond with clinginess, crying, and other comfort seeking behaviors.  As a young parent, I knew that removing myself and calming down was important.  I just wish I had had a few more self-calming tools in my repertoire at the time!

Now I know that some very simple breathing techniques can lower my heart rate and take the stress down a notch! To calm yourself and a child, start by noticing your heart beat. It is probably racing like your child’s! Now take a deep cleansing breath and pay attention to each inhale and exhale, slowing down each exchange for about 10 breaths.  To help you pay attention you can silently count to 4 on each inhale and count to 6 on each exhale.  This will slow down your breathing and heart rate and bring down your child’s anxiety level at the same time. You can teach your child this technique as well, asking them to imagine their belly as a balloon blowing it up gently on each inhale. On the exhale, they can imagine blowing a cloud across the sky. Pinwheels or blowing bubbles are also good ways for a child to regulate their breath, thus reducing the stress response.

Breathing . . .

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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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Episode 5: Talking to Kids about Natural Disasters

The floods, storms and tornadoes of 2011 are taking their toll on the nation’s children, who may be stressed, worried or frightened about what is happening to them and their families. Learn how to talk to kids about natural disasters in this month’s Science of Parenting radio program podcast.

Related Resources

ISU Extension publications

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 Importance of Play

As summertime approaches, it might be tempting to enroll your child in a variety of events to keep him/her busy while not in school.  While extra curricular activities certainly can benefit your child and be very fun for him/her, too many activities can be overwhelming.  Having a jam packed schedule can leave your child without any free time to just play.  So, with summer quickly approaching, I wanted to remind everyone of a few of the benefits of play.

Creativity. When children are given time for free play, they create play scenarios, imagine a new world, and turn common objects into magical props.  Their creativity and imagination can take them anywhere!

Social development. During free play, children interact with one another in a variety of ways.  They may need to cooperate to help a friend in need, determine who will “play” the pilot and who will “play” the passenger, solve a disagreement, or tend to a crying “baby” doll.  All of these scenarios help them learn how to communicate and cooperate with one another.

Physical development. Especially outside in the summer, free play gives children a chance to develop their gross (running, jumping, throwing) and fine (finger painting, tying shoes, coloring) motor skills.  It also helps to keep them active and healthy!

An escape. Let’s face it, the world is a busy, stressful place.  Whether it’s a big soccer game, a bully at school, a math exam, or troubles at home, life can be stressful and serious for children of all ages.  Play gives them a chance to escape reality, and just have fun being a kid for a while.

Have you noticed a difference in children when they’re overbooked?  How does it affect their energy level?  Their mood?  Their relationships?

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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