Science of Parenting
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!
Teenagers… Wait, what was your reaction when you read that word? Maybe an eye roll, a sigh, or perhaps a smile? Each of us have a different experience with raising teenagers – some parents think it is the most fun age during their parenting journey while others dread it. Some of us may even fall into the tendency to paint a mental picture of the teenage years filled with back talk, conversations about curfews, and loud music behind closed doors. But there is a flip side to that coin – seeing your teenager live out their values, getting the opportunity to watch them achieve and excel in their passions, and having meaningful and heartfelt conversations.
Regardless of which way you tend to view the teenage years, most of us who have raised teenagers know that these are the years when friends become a really BIG DEAL, right? Teens care what their classmates think about their looks and what they say and do. And as parents, you watch them grow closer and closer to friends, and it might feel like they are slipping away from you. But great news – they’re not. Sure, your teen is probably growing stronger relationships with their friends, but adolescents (a.k.a. teenagers) still care a lot about their parents and what they think! So don’t lose heart – your teen does hear what you say, and your opinion matters to them!
So continue to communicate your values to your teenager, even if you think you already have or if they give you the “I know this already” look. Sometimes the teen years bring their own challenges, but so does every age (I gotta say, I bet your teenager doesn’t cry while you cook supper like my toddler does, so that’s a plus J). Remember that while you are going to have some challenging moments here and there, you are also going to have some pretty amazing ones too.
Do you have more questions about navigating challenging parenting moments with your teenager? Check out the Parenting in Challenging Moments page on our Science of Parenting website. You can find resources for parenting a child of any age under the Guidance by Age section.
I remember my first summer job! It was waitressing and cleaning tables at a local steak house. It was a very humbling experience, as the first time I delivered a large tray of plated steaks to a table, I didn’t consider the balance of the tray and promptly, dropped all of them on the floor.
In my horror, I looked at the steaks on the floor, and looked back at the customers, who were staring too! I know they were conflicted! They wanted to make me feel better; I apologized profusely, knelt down and began collecting my mess and immediately returned to the kitchen with the order ticket, to have the steaks – PREPARED AGAIN!
I have heard it said repeatedly, every failure is one step closer to SUCCESS! And it is true. So, what did I learn about my job as a teenager. I learned that having a job comes with responsibility. I had to clock in on time, deliver the steak dinners with a smile on my face and confidence in my step. I learned that I could not quit because of one “glass of spilled milk”, that I needed to sweep up my mess, apologize and carry on!
I also learned quickly, that teenage employment is a time to determine the specific skills I have, the skills I want to sharpen, and define the things that I don’t care to do in the future. I have never worked in the restaurant industry since. My decision to work with people in another capacity, education, seems to fit my skill set better!
Teenagers may view getting a job simply as a way to earn money, and that’s a valid reason to work. However, employment may bring additional benefits to teens and perhaps a few concerns for their parents. Teens who have earnings from a part time job can learn how to save and budget their money. This is important, because money management is an essential life skill. Research shows that youth also learn responsibility and gain time management, record keeping and social skills from being employed. Although, parents may worry that teens who take on a part time job may let their school work slip, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, notes several studies indicating a positive relationship between working 20 or fewer hours per week and higher levels of subsequent educational attainment. Today’s teens need educational and work experiences that will enable them to compete for jobs, excel academically and live healthy lives.
In September, we’ll explore how employment helps teens develop essential life skills.
You’ve heard great ideas on the value of chores and what’s appropriate for different ages. I’d like to take a life review look at the value of teaching kids responsibility at home. This quote stuck with me while I was raising my children. . “Don’t do for your children what they can do for themselves.” I’m sorry to say I can’t remember where I got this bit of wisdom, but it guided my parenting and will continue to guide my grandparenting.
You may know a 30 year old who still brings his laundry home to mom (in her 60’s) to do his laundry. Its’ not because he doesn’t have the money or the time. It’s because Mom doesn’t think he can do it right and will do it for him. . . forever. Or the college graduate who claims she doesn’t know how to fill out a dry cleaning form, saying “My mom will do it’. I remember a teenager who didn’t have her favorite jeans for a particular occasion. She had experience washing clothes. Laundry was on the ‘chore list’.
Teen (in a shrill tone of voice): MOOOOM, my jeans aren’t clean! I have to wear them today!
Mom (calmly in an even tone of voice): Do you remember how the washing machine works?
Teen: (with an eye roll and ever so slight affirmative head nod.)
Mom: “What are you going to do about not having your jeans?”
It was painful. For her. For me. But we survived and she’s particular about her own laundry now (20 something).
Doing chores builds skills and self esteem, creates confidence and problem solving skills. Doing chores helps a child develop a work ethic, persistence or ‘grit’, and a sense of accomplishment. Don’t deny your children that opportunity to build their character. When they are adults, their peers will be amazed, their employers impressed and their own children capable. When they are 6-8 years look at what children can do!
So when my granddaughter makes a mess, I’ll teach her how to clean it up. And be patient with imperfection. And think of how she will be when she’s 30.
When 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!
Teen mood swings are about as notorious as the tantrums of a two year old. The seemingly instantaneous rise and fall of their happy and sad, the rushing tide of mad and glad followed by the rolling waves of its not fair. As I pondered how to talk about mood swings of teens I found a great resource on WebMD. Their fitTeens Mood Handbook shares 6 ways that teens can turn a bad day into a good day. I listed a few idea below. Click here for additional resources found on the WebMD fitTeens website.
“Reset your mood by doing something fun”…. I love the ideas here. Playing with the dog and reading a book are my favorite.
“Get creative”…… Writing, drawing. painting, singing are all ways to work through the mood blues.
Sharing some of these ideas with your teen or even sending them to check out the rest of the site might be a great way to slow the rushing tide of emotions they feel daily.
What are some ways you help your teen deal with their emotions? We would love to hear from you.
Reference: fitTeens by WebMD
Teens love to hang out together – in large groups, small groups, and couples. As parents, we’re happy they have friends. But then we start to worry when the friends turn into boyfriends and girlfriends. Our immediate reaction may indeed be, “no dating until you’re 30!”
Realistically we know that’s not likely to happen, so how can we approach the dating decisions? Let’s return to one of the five basics of parenting adolescents. Monitor and observe means that you let your teen know you are aware of their activities and relationships.
In the beginning, there may be direct supervision. Perhaps you volunteer to chaperone the school dance or let some dates happen in your home. You might give the teens a ride to the movie, mall, or game. As the teens get older and have more experiences, your monitoring becomes less supervision and more communication. Ask where your teen is going, who is the date, and what the couple plans to do. When this is done in a conversational way, rather than an inquisition, you are more likely to get an honest answer.
Another important strategy is to build a network with other parents and adults in the community. Be willing to let each other know of the good things happening as well as any troubling trends or events. Watch for signs of troubled relationships or abuse.
Dating is a natural evolution in relationships. While this issue may always strike angst in the heart of parents, dating is another step on the road to adulthood. Supervision, communication, observation, and networking with other adults are the keys to successfully traveling that road.
What family rules do you have for dating?
I find myself thinking and saying this phrase a lot. I have two teens and one nine year old that thinks she is a teen. There is so much I want them to know but so much that I don’t always say out loud. Yes, I want them to know, but I also know that sometimes they will ‘hear’ it louder from someone else. What resources can I share with them so they will find the answers I want them to know?
Below are some of the resources I have share with my teens so far. And yes, it was via text, email, Twitter or Facebook. I’ll use any means I can to share the information I want them to know.
What have you shared with your teen? I would love to know!
Yes, parents still matter in the lives of their teens. Teens do care about you even though at times you may wonder. And – you’re not done modeling. In the podcast we shared the five basics of parenting adolescents with one being model and consult.
So you might be thinking – give me some specific strategies. The obvious one is to set a good example with your habits – eating, drinking, physical activity, risk taking. That old escape line of “Do what I say, not what I do” really doesn’t cut it with teens. And certainly you can model adult relationships – with employers, friends, partners, and spouses. Your teens will learn from how you interact and treat other people.
Here’s another strategy – answer teens’ questions. It’s ok to express your personal opinions on issues. Your teens may not agree but you are modeling different viewpoints and how to talk with people who take different positions. In our house we had the rule that we could talk about anything as long as people were respectful. Worked pretty well for us and it’s a strategy I continue today now that the kids are adults with teens of their own.
Have you considered that establishing or maintaining traditions is a form of modeling? During the holiday season families observe lots of traditions – some silly, some serious, some sacred. Traditions are often a tangible expression of values. For example, going to the grandparents’ home for a holiday meal and celebration models the importance we place on family. Attending a religious service on Sunday morning demonstrates spiritual values. Buying toys for an Empty Stocking program says we care about those less fortunate than us.
Now you get the picture. Teens still need their parents to provide information, teach by example or modeling, and carry on conversations about relevant issues. That’s a tall order but you are raising teens and these final years under your care are setting them on the path to adulthood.
Children approach their 13th birthday with excitement. They can’t wait to be teenagers. Parents, on the other hand, often see this milestone as the beginning of new worries. During December join us as we talk about what’s normal for teens and what parents can expect. And remember, teenagers’ brainsare still developing and won’t be fully mature until they reach their early 20’s. Research shows that with love, support and communication, parents can influence healthy adolescent development and survive the teen years. We look forward to hearing from you this month.
Today my 2nd grandson moved into his college dorm. He is excited about starting this new chapter in his life. His parents are sad about him leaving home but hoping he will adjust and do well. And as for Grandma, I’m thinking, “Can he take care of himself? You might be wondering what’s that got to do with kids and chores.
Actually the connection is pretty clear. Kids who grow up doing chores around the house learn several important things.
Let’s think about this a little more. Kids learn that it takes the whole family to keep a household going. The laundry, cooking, cleaning, repairs, shopping, yardwork, etc. don’t happen by magic. Bud starts to appreciate how Mom feels when someone makes a mess in a room he just cleaned. Nicole understands how long it takes Dad to mow the yard each week. The kids learn the importance of completing assigned chores – correctly and on time. Being responsible carries over into school work and eventually the work world.
Now back to my grandson. If Mom and Dad did their job well (which they did) my grandson knows how to keep his room clean, handle his laundry, and fix his meals. By teaching your kids how to do basic home chores, you are preparing them for that day when they will be on their own.
Do you have any idea on how much information there is on the internet telling you ‘how to be a mom’?
I realized that I was going round and round and deeper and deeper into the realms of the internet while I was thinking about what to write. I began to be overloaded and confused. What seemed to be such a simple task became overwhelming with so much information.
Isn’t that what being a mom ends up being? A seemingly simple parenting task can become overwhelming because of information from so many places and sources.
So what do we do? Here’s what I did. Pushed my chair back from the computer. Picked up the picture of my girls on my desk. Smiled. Took a deep breath. Deleted my search engines. And went back to the place I knew research was solid and strong. www.extension.org And then I started again.
Sometimes as parents we have to remember that we need a strong foundation of one or two credible resources instead of a whole ‘favorites’ list of lots of opinions. I hope you enjoy searching the eXtension website as much as I did!
I considered myself a lucky kid. I grew up on a farm with lots of space for animals. Pets were just a normal part of life. The fish, turtles, and hamsters shared our home. The cats occupied the back steps while the chickens and dogs roamed the yard. They were our companions and playmates. It was never a question if we were old enough to have a pet; they just kept coming!
But for most parents these days, the question of when to get a child a pet is worth some discussion. One point for consideration is what is your purpose for having the pet. Is it for companionship and play? Or do you want your child to take responsibility for part or all of it’s care?
Let’s start at the beginning. Babies aren’t old enough to handle or take care of pets. Toddlers want to touch and grab pets. As the kids grow into the preschool age years, they are able to better understand how to handle a pet and fill the water and food dishes. I suspect that the “I wanna dog” (or whatever) gene really kicks in during the elementary years.
The good news is that school-age kids are old enough to assume some pet chores and can play with the pets responsibly. The bad news is that this age children may have short attention spans and change their minds often. So that dog wanted now may be not so much fun three months later. Preteens and teens have the capabilities to be responsible. But they are also getting into the “busy” years and pets will have to compete for their time.
No matter your decision as to when to add a pet to your family, realize that as the parent you have the final responsbility for its care and well-being.
Note: Check out the ASPCA web site for some good thoughts about the right pet for your child’s age.