Overindulgence

Research shows that children who get everything they want grow up to be greedy, materialistic, self-centered adults. However, parents can raise their children to focus instead on internal life goals, such as learning, developing relationships and helping others.

In December, join us as we offer tips for parents on how to avoid overindulging children and learning when ‘enough is enough.  Overindulgence

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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Brush Up on Table Manners

Several major holidays are just around the corner. Many people will attend family gatherings that usually include food. Or in the case of Thanksgiving – the holiday seems to revolve around the food. So are you a little nervous that your kids who eat way too many meals on the run may not know how to behave at the table? Is it time for a quick lesson on table manners?

A few gentle reminders at the breakfast table, in the car on the way to school, or as you’re fixing the evening meal, can do the trick. We aren’t trying to turn the kids into walking advertisements for Emily Post. But we are attempting to teach a few basics that will help relieve some of the stress for everyone when kids are placed in social settings.

Here’s the list I used with our girls.

  • Ask someone to pass the mashed potatoes. Don’t reach across two people to get the bowl.
  • Chew with your mouth closed. Save the gross “look at me” games for home.
  • Eat and then talk. It’s hard for Aunt Tina to understand you with your mouth full of green beans.
  • Try, try, try to sit up in your chair and keep your elbows off the table. We used to sing a song about this because everyone forgets.
  • Compliment the cook on something you like (can’t get enough of the noodles) and keep quiet about Uncle Rob’s dressing you couldn’t make me eat.
  • Say “please” and “thank you.” This will get you big points for being well mannered.

So what’s the point of all this? In the podcast Lori talked about how manners are a way for society to keep things pleasant. Observing basic table manners will make meals go more smoothly. When children, and adults, use their manners they are showing respect for the people gathered around the table.

What table manners do you teach your kids?

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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Navigating the world of children’s friendships

Parents want their children to have friends, but childhood friendships can be puzzling. One day a child is part of the “in group” and the next day he or she is on the outside. What’s a parent to do?

The good news is that parents can help children develop the skills they need to make and keep friends. Join us this month as we navigate through the world of children’s friendships.

Listen to a brief podcast on Children and Friendship:

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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Take Him Out!

We’ve all been there – cheering at the game and having fun watching the kids play. Then somewhere out of the stands comes that loud voice yelling, “What are you thinking, take him out,” or “Ref, how could you miss that call?” Then the tirade continues for the entire game alternately aimed at the coach, kids, and referees or umpires. Embarrassing – yes. Helpful to anyone – no.

I’m going to tackle (ok, its football season) the sensitive topic of adults and sportsmanship. It’s easier and safer to focus on the kids. But the truth is that adults can become overly involved. I am including all adults, not just parents, in this discussion. There’s no age limit, gender, or relationship that precludes an adult from “losing it” at a sporting event.

So what’s an overly involved parent or adult? Here are some questions to ask yourself.

  • Do I get in arguments at my child’s sporting event?
  • Do I object to calls and possibly cuss at the referees or umpires?
  • Do I insist my child go to practice or play in a game even if she is sick or hurt?
  • Do I complain to the coach about the amount of my child’s playing time?
  • Do I insist my child is much better than others on the team?
  • Do I tell or show my child how to play dirty?
  • Do I show more approval when my child plays well?

Ok, it’s gut check time. Did any of these questions make you squirm just a little? Did some of them hit close to home? We’re not perfect and it’s easy to get caught up in an intense game.

But remember, as a parent you are ALWAYS a role model for your child. Sports help character development and what are you teaching your child when you lose control of your emotions and actions. What do you do to keep calm at your child’s games?

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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Children and Sports

Play sports for fun or play to win? When the focus is on fun, children are more likely to continue participating in sports and to develop an active lifestyle. But when parents and coaches push winning as more important, children tend to quit participating in sports.

This month we will talk about how to be a positive sports parent. Listen below  to a short podcast on what research says now about Children and Sports.

Click here for additional information on Positive Sports 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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Family Fun Time – Make it happen!

Welcome to our new format!

This month we will have a shorter podcast which we hope gives you more opportunities and ideas to blog!

Listen to the Family Fun Time podcast below and then share your ideas with us!

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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I Need a Nap

Last night I went to bed late and woke up early, refreshed. Another night I may go to bed at a decent time and still have trouble dragging myself out of bed. Sound familiar? And I do know the importance of a regular sleep routine. I feel better and function better when I have enough sleep.

We adults can manage some deviation from getting enough sleep. But it is not realistic to expect that kids can do the same. When I listened to the podcast, I really zoned in on the conversastion about how the spirited kids suffer more from not getting enough sleep. Then I add to that the hectic schedules many families keep, plus the availability of tech devices in kids’ bedrooms, and OH MY!

Remember how excited you were as a parent when your baby starting sleeping through the night? Then later on when your little one starts fighting the naps, it seems like we can easily forget how important sleep is for her. It’s easy enough to find out how many hours of sleep children need each night. Check out the Children and Sleep publication mentioned on the main page this month. As a good rule of thumb, choose a bedtime that is about 10-12 hours before your child needs to get up. Then stick with it. Even if your child doesn’t fall right to sleep, at least he is resting.

And just one more thought – don’t have lots of exciting and interesting things going on in the house when it is bedtime. No one wants to miss out. So turn off the TV and computer, put on your pjs, and bring the day to a quiet close. Raising a spirited child can be a challenge. So why add to everyone’s stress level by operating on too little sleep. That is one aspect you, as the parent, can control.

Now about that nap …..

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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Why did you do that? I don’t know.

I could not begin to guess how many times I’ve asked one of my children or grandchildren “Why did you do that?” And the usual answer is “I don’t know.” While that may push one of my buttons, it is likely a truthful answer.

I learned a new phrase when listening to the podcast – executive functioning. That is the part of the brain last to develop and it has to do with reasoning, decision making, and assessing risks. Executive functioning is not well developed in preteens and teens. Well, that may not be “new” news to you but now you know the” why” behind some of your child’s behavior.

Don’t we all remember some of the stupid and dangerous things we did as preteens and teens? And do you cringe to think your child might be making some of the same choices? As parents we don’t have to just wait it out with fingers crossed until the teens grow up and the brains are more fully developed.

The experts in the podcast have two suggestions on how we can be engaged parents and help our children.

  1. If you are present and involved prior to your child making a decision, you can help her stop and think through the consequences. What will happen if I do this? What will happen if I do that?
  2. If you become involved after the fact, there is still an opportunity for learning. Talk with your child about the consequences of his action and why this perhaps wasn’t the best decision.

In simple words – we have multiple teaching and learning opportunities.  Do you have examples to share from your youth or with your child that show undeveloped executive functioning? How did you help turn it into a learning situation?

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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Episode 6: Teen Drug and Alcohol Use, Abuse

Recent trends indicate that teens are more likely to think it’s OK to get drunk or use marijuana and other drugs. Prevention advocates are issuing a wake-up call to parents in this month’s Science of Parenting radio program podcast.

Related resources

ISU Extension 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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Helping Teens Get Organized

To be successful in the academic world, students need to be organized. For teenagers, this can be a difficult task.  With school, extra curricular activities, friends, and family, organization can seem like a foreign concept to adolescents.  Here are some tips teens can use to stay organized.

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each morning will help ensure that you get enough sleep.  This also helps your body get into a routine, enabling you to feel rested and refreshed each day.

Get ready to go the night before. Laying out your clothes, packing your lunch, and packing your book bag the night before will help avoid the feeling of being rushed in the morning. This also gives you time to think through and gather all the things you need for the upcoming day, to ensure these items are not forgotten.

Use a daily planner. A daily planner gives you one space to write everything down. From homework assignments to practice schedules and doctor appointments, having a planner keeps you focused and on track. Planners can also be used to create “to do” lists. Having a list to follow helps to make study halls and designated work times more effective and efficient.

Designate a study area. Each person has a different environment in which he/she studies best. Create an environment for yourself that allows you to get the most out of your study time. Be sure your space is quiet, well lit, and comfortable. However, do not make it too comfortable. A big, comfy couch is often more conducive to sleeping than to studying.

Don’t overload your schedule. Know that there is only so much you can accomplish in one day. There may be times when you need to say no to getting involved in an extra curricular activity, or spending extra time with your friends. Knowing your limits and carefully managing your schedule will allow you to keep up with school work, excel at the activities you do choose to participate in, and maintain a balanced social life.

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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Effective Ways to Parent Teens

We all know adolescence is a tough for children, and for parents. With hormones raging, bodily changes, emotional instability, and peer pressure, raising a teen can be an extremely difficult challenge. Here are some tips and examples to help you help your teen through this tumultuous time.

• Actively listen to what your teen is telling you, and give them feedback that lets them know you’re listening. (e.g. It sounds like you had a very frustrating day.)
• Praise good behavior with privileges or time with you, rather than material objects. (e.g. Opt for an extra night out with friends or a movie with you, rather than a new outfit.)
• Spend time together with just you and your teen, as well as time with your entire family. (e.g. On the way to a baseball tournament, ask your teen to tell you about his week at school; plan a family night of bowling.)
• Take time to talk to your teen about values. (e.g. After watching the news and hearing about an underage drinking party where someone got hurt, you could discuss with your child why you have particular rules, and that these rules are designed to keep the child safe.)
• Communicate with your teen using “I statements.” (e.g. I get frustrated when you don’t empty the dishwasher because then everyone piles their dishes in the sink. Please go empty the dishwasher right now.)
• Before rules and consequences are put into place, discuss the specifics of the rule and the reasons behind the rule with your teen. (e.g. Now that you can drive, I need to set a curfew of 9:00pm for you. I am setting this curfew because I don’t want you in any bad or harmful situations that can occur late at night.)
• When problems arise, brainstorm solutions with your child, decide on a course of action, and follow up with a reminder if necessary.
• When heated conflict arises between you and your teen, step away from the situation, and deal with the issue when you have cooled down. (e.g. I am very upset with your behavior right now. We will talk about this after I’ve had time to cool down.)
• If you have questions or concerns that come along, seek out information. Talk to other parents or professionals, read books about parenting teens, or surf the internet for typical and atypical teen behavior.

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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Teaching Responsibility to Teens

Parents want their children to become more responsible with age, but this is not an easy skill to teach. Ideally, teaching responsibility does not just start when your child becomes a teenage, but rather, it’s something you work to instill throughout the child’s life. From infancy to leaving the house, parents should work to gradually let children take on more responsibility. This can often be seen in extended curfews, more chores, and more decision-making opportunities as children get older.

With teenagers in particular, we see parents get frustrated as they often attempt to give children more responsibility, like chores around the house, but are disappointed when the chores don’t get finished. Don’t despair. These unfinished chores can actually be a great learning opportunity.

When chores go unfinished, the first task is to get yourself in the right mindset. As humans, it’s a natural inclination to become upset. You might start nagging the child, insist that things be done your way, or even punish the teen. However, as parents, you need to remember your long-terms goals in this situation. You don’t want to have to nag or punish in order to get the child to complete the tasks he/she has agreed to. Instead, you want your child to become more responsible, to complete tasks on his/her own, and to learn from mistakes.

When situations involving unfinished responsibilities arise, try the five step process of joint problem solving. This involves sitting down to talk with the teen about the situation and generate potential solution.

1. Describe the situation. “I don’t like it when you don’t vacuum the house like you said you would because the carpet is dirty.”

2. Both you and the teen tell how you feel about the situation. Parent – “I feel upset.” Teen – “I don’t think it’s fair that I have to vacuum the house.”

3. Brainstorm possible solutions. List any and all ideas that could solve the problem. Do not criticize any ideas.

4. Try a solution. Choose a solution to try for a specific length of time.

5. Select a time to check back. State a time with your teenager when you will be checking back in to see if the solution is working. If not, select another option from the list.

Even though teens intend to stick to the solution, they often fall short on their end of the agreement. To help avoid this, give the teen reminders. For example, if your child is going to meet friends, you might say, “Remember we agreed that the house would be vacuumed by noon.” If reminders aren’t helpful, then the solution is not working, and it is time to try another solution.

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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