Archive for the ‘Healthy Relationships’ Category

Why Hobbies are Important!

Did you know it is good for your physical and mental health to have a hobby? Sometimes we get so busy with work or our family that we forget to have time for ourselves, which usually allows the stress in our lives to build. Hobbies provide physical and mental health benefits by giving us an alternative place to focus our time and mental energy, reinvigorating us. Other benefits from hobbies may include:

  • A Sense of Accomplishment – If you are having trouble finishing a difficult task at work, you may find satisfaction by completing a project on your own like a quilt, painting, finishing a book, or a 5K.
  • Social Support System – Often hobbies involve things you can do with others, be it volunteering with Relay for Life or Habitat for Humanity, or joining a just for fun sports league like softball.
  • Preventing Burnout – A hobby may provide fun and something to look forward to after a hard day at work or a stressful time taking care of family members.
  • Improved Physical Health – Studies show that when you engage in enjoyable free time activities you have lower blood pressure and a lower Body Mass Index (or BMI) even if the hobby isn’t necessarily active.
  • Better Work Performance – Studies also have found that employees who have creative hobbies are more satisfied with their jobs and are often more creative with work projects.

Children benefit from hobbies by having a higher self-esteem, learning patience and social skills, and developing critical thinking skills and creativity. Encourage 

younger children to try several activities as hobbies – think something physical, creative, and mental (geocaching, crafting, music, cooking, or even magic). While some children may consider gaming to be a hobby, encourage them to have other hobbies that don’t use a computer or TV to limit screen time.

Hobbies provide both physical and mental health benefits to adults and children. A hidden benefit for adults may be that companies report looking for employees who have hobbies. They feel these employees are more balanced, less stressed, and more creative at work. What hobby is your favorite? Comment below. Personally I’m a reader, reading is food for my soul.


United States Library of Medicine, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/


Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Lorrissa Dunfee, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Belmont County.


Read Full Post »

chaos2We all experience chaos in our lives, some of us more so than others.  Examples include the car breaking down, refrigerator going on the fritz, accidently overdrawing your checking account, and receiving unexpected visitors.  The list goes on.

However, for the past five weeks I have been experiencing an abnormal amount of disorder in my life.  I sold my home six months ago and bought a new home a few months later.  I moved in right when the holidays were starting (moving + holiday stress), and had just started getting situated when the extreme cold weather moved in.  Just normal Ohio January weather, right?

Well, let’s just say that sometimes Mother Nature can be very vindictive.  It started with a water pipe bursting above my ceiling.  Water was running down the walls of my home onto my furniture, carpeting, and personal effects.  Then problems with the furnace and refrigerator followed.  Those issues led to almost daily phone calls and emails to resolve damage issues, and ultimately having to take lots of vacation time to get those problems resolved (or close to being resolved).

Situations that disrupt our lives – even positive occasions – can be stressful.  The major constant distressing factors in our lives include:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Birth of a child
  • New job and loss of a job
  • Marriage and divorce
  • Major illness and caring for a sick family member
  • Moving

So how do we get through those times when it keeps raining, so to speak, and just won’t quit?

During this chaotic time my back seized up on me (stress related) and I was told to “keep moving.”  I also coped by getting a few back massages and did some “Yoga for Your Back.”   Prayer, remembering to breath in and out, exercise, and talking with others helped.

But what is really helping me get through this more-than-usual chaotic time is living one moment at a time, one hour at a time, and one day at a time.  You and I know that sometimes that is all we are able to do.

Written by:  Candace J. Heer, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County

Reviewed by:  Donna Green, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County




Read Full Post »

February brings us Valentine’s Day. That makes it a prefect time to work on developing a loving relationship with our children.  Learning to communicate with each other will strengthen family relationships especially during the teenage years.

Not only is communication important for families, it should be the foundation.  Good family communication helps develop trust and builds respect between mevalentinembers of the family.  It will make it easier to solve conflicts and face the many challenges thrown at today’s families.  By teaching your children good communication techniques today they will have the lifetime tools needed to communicate with others outside the home.

Talking is not always the best communication.  In fact, best communicator is often times not the speaker, but the best listener.  We need to listen with both ears, with eye contact and with our full attention.

As a parent educator, I often hear parents moan, “Why won’t my child talk to me? But I also hear the other side from the children asking, “Why won’t my parents listen to me?”     So what can we do to communicate better?  Take time to discover your children.  A very important way to build a relationship is to ask questions about their activities, feelings and interests. Try to understand their point of view.  Remember what it was like at their age.  Let them know you care about their feelings even if they are different than yours.  Sounds easy?  You say you already do that.  Do you really take the time to sit down next to them, with eyes and ears opened  and interrupted by the television, computers or cell phones?  Here are some things that can enhance family communication:

  • Send clear and encouraging messages.
  • Watch our tone of voice and body language. It sets the mood for conversation.
  • Let them know you are listening. Look at your child’s face.
  • Don’t make it about you. Stay with the child’s ideas. A young child’s story may go on and on and get twisted up. But stay with them, they will learn though you to get better at expressing their feelings and ideas.

Communication is the bridge between you and your children.  It is a way for you to share love and teach appropriate behavior.  To honor St Valentine make some hearts from red paper or pink paper and write positive sayings such as:  wow, outstanding, way to go, terrific, much better, very nice, etc.  Pass then to each other.  Every time you give a love message you have made a change.  You will be glad you took the time.

Written by: Kathy Green, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

Reviewed by:


Bornstein, M. H., editor, 1995. Handbook of parenting: volume 1, children and parenting. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Gottman, J., and J. DeClaire. 1997. The heart of parenting. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Klauser, H. A. 1995. Put your heart on paper. New York: Bantam.


Read Full Post »

In my family of four, it is often my thirteen-year-old daughter who requests a family game night. This is the same thirteen-year-old who truly does not want (or need) a cell phone because she doesn’t want to become addicted to a phone. I think she’s on to something here… She craves the interaction and time with family, and time away from electronics, work and other distractions. And while some family game nights end up with someone frustrated over losing…most of the time we have fun and enjoy taking time to play together. There are a lot of benefits for families who play good ole-fashioned board games and card games.

board game

Games build character

While playing games, family members must learn how to take turns and be a good sport. Parents can model good character and sportsmanship by encouraging one another and showing how to win and lose graciously. This can be difficult for children (and some adults) to learn handle the disappointment of losing, but all the more reason to persevere with family game night.

Games develop motor skills

Rolling dice, shuffling cards, manipulating small pieces… all these tasks help young children build fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Games train your brain

Some games help kids learn math, counting, strategy, problem-solving and how to count money. Games can also help teach spelling, vocabulary and general knowledge. Playing games also requires learning and following rules. Research from Carnegie Mellon University indicates that playing a simple, board game can lead to better academic results later in school.

Games teach flexibility

Sometimes it’s difficult to get the family to agree on which game to play and when to stop. The more members in the family, the more flexibility is required. Also keep in mind to be flexible about having a regular game night… sometimes the family may be too busy or just too tired.

Games help us turn off electronics.

It’s hard to play a game (well) and have electronics on, even in the background. Try some screen-free time and put on some background music instead during game night.

Games bring families together for fun

Numerous studies show positive outcomes for kids who spend quality time interacting with their parents. When families have fun together, lasting memories are created. Be intentional about spending time together and make family game night a regular part of the schedule.

If your family schedule won’t allow for a weekly family game night, try once a month. It’s well worth the investment of time and energy.

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

Reviewed by: Alisha Barton, Program Coordinator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Miami and Champaign Counties


Ankowski, A. & Ankowski, A. “Bringing Back Family Game Night.”  Public Broadcasting System. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/parents/expert-tips-advice/2015/07/bringing-back-family-game-night/

Laski, E. V., & Siegler, R. S. (2014). Learning from number board games: You learn what you encode. Developmental Psychology, 50(3), 853-864. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0034321

Read Full Post »

We live in a technology loving society.  We rely on our phones to get us where we need to go, keep us in touch, bank, track our exercise, entertain us and more.  Our children also rely more than ever on technology to complete homework, engage socially with peers, play games, share photos and videos. 

As parents and caregivers we know that this increased use of technology increases the likelihood that our children will encounter inappropriate or harmful information, online bullies, or share too much private information with  unwanted sources.  With increased use of technology our children also are at increased risk of encountering inappropriate conduct, contacts and content.

According to Assistant Professor Jim Bates of The Ohio State University, there are several steps parents can take to address these concerns with their youth and to reduce their risks:

  • The first is to start early establishing your technology and internet expectations and guidelines.  Set clear rules and guidelines about online conduct. Discuss with your children what they should do when they encounter harmful or inappropriate content online.  Be clear and firm with what your values are in regards to online interactions.
  • Second, monitor what your child is doing, seeing and experiencing online.  This is easier to do when computers, tablets and phones are used in public places in the home.  Ask your children frequently about what sites they are visiting online and what they are doing with the time they spend on technology.
  • Finally look for ways to encourage them to think critically and act in a way they can be proud of.  Recently a friend of my daughter received an inappropriate request from a peer. The friends response provided a great conversation between me and my daughter as we discussed what she would have done in a similar situation and how she felt about the request and response of her peers.

Since parents and caregivers can be a strong predictor of a child’s media habits, we can set an example by using media appropriately in our lives.  We can reduce our phone time, and avoid using phones or media during family time and meals. This will enhance interactions with our child and focus on important family routines.  Encouraging face to face contact in communication can help caregivers teach children important communication skills. Start now teaching online manners and clearly communicating expectations regarding the use of media to children at all ages. Share the lessons you have learned about social media, the internet, and youth by commenting below this message.



Research by Jim Bates, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University Extension Field Specialist, Family Wellness.


Writer: Alisha Barton, Program Coordinator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami and Champaign Counties.

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Read Full Post »

My teenage daughter affectionately call me “Mom-ther”. My teenage son calls me “Momma”. When they were tiny humans, they called me “Mommy”. No matter your moniker or how you came to be raising another human, parenting can be both the most rewarding and joyous experience and also one of the hardest things you have ever done. Whether you are celebrating the joys or crying through the struggles, there are things as parents we can do each day to help ourselves (and our children).

There can be a lot of pressure as you raise another person to become an adult.  Each of us brings our own history (positive and negative) and our own strengths and weaknesses.  Please know that there is no such thing as a perfect parent.  Each of us has a different parenting style. Each of our families has a different set of norms and expectations, so please do not compare your parenting to another.


The United States Department of Education offers these tips for being an effective parent:

  • Show love. Say “I love you” in as many ways as you can: write notes, send a text, use one of their favorite communication apps.
  • Give support. Be present. Turn of the electronics. Talk and engage. Be a part of their lives.  Show interest in what they are interested in.
  • Set limits. Be clear and be consistent about your expectations. I have said many times “our house rules are not the same as others, but my job is to keep you safe and healthy.”
  • Be a role model. Be kind.   Don’t gossip.  Be strong.  Show empathy.  Our children are seeing how we interact with the world and will emulate whatever we do.
  • Teach responsibility. Give children the opportunity to learn this while they are still at home with you.
  • Provide new experiences. Step out of your comfort zone and try new activities, foods, and cultural events.
  • Show respect. Ask questions and listen for the answers. Valuing our children as humans with their own thought and desires can help them and us immensely.

Another important part of being an effective parent is for you to keep learning! The Center for Disease Control has compiled many resources to help you as you seek out information to be the best parent.

As you think about parenting for the win today, tomorrow, and as the years quickly fly by, remember to approach your parenting like you would anything else that you plan to succeed in.  Forgive yourself (and your children) when needed and celebrate the littlest of successes. This quote from Zig Ziglar sums it up, in parenting and for life: “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”

Written by: Jami Dellifield, Ohio State University, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Hardin County

Reviewed by:  Kathy Green, Ohio State University, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Clark County


US Department of Education, “Being an Effective Parent — Helping Your Child Through Early Adolescence”, 2003 https://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/adolescence/part5.html

Mgbemere , B and , Telles, R. “Types of Parenting Styles and How to Identify Yours”, Developmental Psychology Department, Vanderbilt University https://my.vanderbilt.edu/developmentalpsychologyblog/2013/12/types-of-parenting-styles-and-how-to-identify-yours/

American Academy of Pediatrics, “A ‘Perfect’ Parent, 2015. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/Pages/A-Perfect-Parent.aspx

Center for Disease Control , “Positive Parenting Tips”, 2017  https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/index.html   

Zig Ziglar,  https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/zig_ziglar_381983

Photo Credits



Read Full Post »

The holiday season is one of the most giving and positive times of the year. Many people have the ‘Spirit of Giving’ during this festive time. The students of Somerset Elementary School are no exception. A few of weeks ago the principal, and some of the students stopped by our office to deliver poinsettias. They were going to businesses and residences in the community to spread some positivity with the flowers and a little note. The students of Somerset Elementary; however, have been practicing positivity for a couple years. They piloted the Positivity Project for Northern Local School District last year. The district implemented the project in the other two grade schools this year due to the great results from Somerset Elementary.

The visit from the students inspired me to encourage others to be more positive. Overall, I tend to be a positive person, but positivity does not come naturally for everyone. Some people have to work harder at it, but we all can become more positive with some small changes. To become more positive, try some of these tips from the Mayo Clinic:

Identify areas to change.Positivity Project

Check yourself.

Be open to humor.

Follow a healthy lifestyle.

Surround yourself with positive people.

Practice positive self-talk.

With practice, you may be able to develop a more positive attitude and become less critical of things around you.

There are many health benefits  to having a positive outlook/attitude for you. These may include:

  • lower blood pressure
  • reduced risk for heart disease
  • healthier weight
  • better blood sugar levels
  • lower rates of depression
  • lower levels of distress
  • greater resistance to the common cold
  • better psychological and physical well-being
  • better coping skills during stressful times
  • longer life span.

One study showed that the most optimistic group of women had a nearly 30% overall reduced mortality compared to the least optimistic group.

Gratitude can also help with developing a more positive outlook/attitude. People who are more grateful tend to have a more positive demeanor. If we can continue the practice of gratitude that many people seem to have during the holiday season all year long, it may help us to become more positive overall. The week after our office received the visit and the flowers from the students, I walked over to the school to deliver a Thank You note to the principal to share with the students. I wanted to make sure that the students understand that their gesture was appreciated and acknowledged. I will be sharing this blog with the principal as well so that he can show the students how they were my inspiration for writing it. The simple gesture of positivity by them, has already spread beyond their little school and town.

When you find yourself struggling to be or to remain positive (as we all do at times), remember Winston Churchill’s famous quote that “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Sometimes just re-framing the situation can help us to see things in a more positive light.

Comment on your favorite tips to stay positive.


Written by:  Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension , Perry County.

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County.

Photo Credit:  Debbie Goodrich, Office Associate, Perry County OSU Extension.








Bryan, Jeff & Erwin, Mike (2017). #OtherPeopleMatter, The Positivity Project.

Mayo Clinic Staff (February 18, 2017). Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) News in Health (August 2015). Positive Emotions and Your Health Developing a Brighter Outlook.

Feldscher, Karen (December 7, 2016). How power of positive thinking works, Harvard Gazette.

Mindfulness and Positive Thinking (2016). Pursuit of Happiness, Inc.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »