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It can be stressful for a parent to get a tearful phone call from a child at camp. For children who are away from home, it is very common for them to experience homesickness. Ninety percent of all children report experiencing feelings of sadness when separated from their home environment. Most children are able to function at camp and learn to work through homesickness. And it’s worth the struggle when kids return stronger and more independent. Some preparation ahead of time may help lessen homesickness at camp.

camp

Have your child help pack. If your child is picking out his clothes and making sure they he has all that he needs, this will help him start to think about time at camp and taking care of himself.

Be positive when you talk with your child about camp. Remind him how much fun he will have with new activities and making new friends.

Address any concerns your child may have about being away from home. You can create some coping strategies together, or better yet, have him come up with suggestions of what he might do in certain situations. For example, when he feels homesick, or lonely he could write a letter home, find a friend, talk with camp staff, or get busy with an activity.

Back up Plans. Do NOT make a back up plan with your child in case he wants to come home. If a child and a parent have an easy ‘out’ it will likely be taken. Camp staff are usually prepared to help a homesick child. You might, however, talk with camp staff to make sure your child is working through it and still having a positive camp experience. You can encourage your child to stick it out. If the homesickness is severe and your child is not functioning well, decide ahead of time what you will do.

Pack notes in your child’s bag with encouraging words, affirmations, and even some funny jokes or camp mad libs for him to complete.  If you mail letters to camp, be positive and encourage your child that he can do it! Telling your child how much you miss him may not be helpful. Consider sending stamped envelopes and paper so your child can write you back. It will help him feel connected with you, and it’s neat to read the notes even after camp.

Prepare yourself to be apart from your child for the week. Have a friend you can talk with and that can give you positive and encouraging reminders. Click here for more tips for parents to manage their own worries about summer camp.

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

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

Sources:

American Psychological Association. “Summer camp blues: Planning ahead to lessen homesickness at camp.” 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/camp.aspx

American Psychological Association. “Sending your child to camp: Manage your own worries.” 2017. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/camp-worry.aspx

 

 

 

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Most schools have either finished up in the last week, or will be wrapping up in the next week or so. Initially everyone in the family is excited and there are lots of ideas of what to do – but it doesn’t take long and we hear those famous words “I’m bored! I can’t find anything to do!” As adults it isn’t our job to plan their days to the extent that schools do, with a new activity every 45 minutes, but we do need to keep them engaged so they don’t watch TV or play video games all day – everyday. Some parenting experts even suggest that a little boredom  isn’t a bad thing for children; it is a way for them to learn how to fill their own time and learn what makes them happy. Several of these experts suggest developing a family list of things to do whenever you say “I’m bored”. When children say “I’m bored” they need to pick something off the list to do. Depending on the age of the child this might include:

  • Playing cards or other games
  • Puzzles
  • Coloring or other crafts like playdough
  • Reading
  • Bubbles
  • Science experiments like making your own slime (Click here for recipes from Penn State).
  • Hula hoops
  • Playing dress up – chef, teacher, police officer, farmer, etc
  • Building sets or blocks
  • Music or dancing
  • Cooking
  • Gardening
  • Riding bikes
  • Sandbox time
  • Writing their own play to act out a book they read
  • Playing or caring for the family pet

If parents or grandparents work with children to do a little research, you can typically find a variety of activities that are offered in your area (with many at low or no cost) to include one or two days a week as well. You may want to select a day of the week that you will do one of these “away” activities, or develop a calendar that they can see to know which day you will do something next. Look for these activities from:

  • City parks or recreation – pools, craft sessions, fishing, free lunches, or lessons.
  • Museums or State/National Parks – Junior park ranger programs, historical reenactments, volunteer opportunities.
  • Free movie programs – at local cinemas, libraries, or parks.
  • YMCA or Boys/Girls Clubs – Day Camps, events or lessons (like swim, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, etc).
  • Summer Reading Programs and Events at Libraries – typically include reading programs for all ages, volunteer opportunities for teens, carnivals, crafts, and author events.
  • School or University Programs – many offer a week of special camps, often at a very low cost. In my area they include technology camp, art programs, Chinese camp, space camp, and summer sports camps.
  • Bowling – The Kids Bowl Free Program is offered at hundreds of bowling lanes around the country. This program allows children to bowl 2 free games per day and adults of families who participate can pay a reduced price as well. My family took advantage of this program for several years.
  • Extension or 4-H Programs – Check with your local university Extension or 4-H Office for summer camps or programs that are available. Some may require a membership, but others are open enrollment. Possibilities are Space Camps, STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math Programs, Cooking Camp, Babysitter Trainings, or traditional 4-H Camp.

Try these ideas for the “I’m bored!” crew and don’t forget it is OK for them to be a little bored. Children should use that time to develop their own hobbies and interests. Remember to limit TV and internet time to no more than 1 to 2 hours per day. Excessive TV viewing can contribute to sleep problems, obesity, behavior problems, and risky behavior.

Sources:

Penn State Extension, http://extension.psu.edu/youth/betterkidcare/early-care/our-resources/tip-pages/tips/make-your-own-mixtures.

University of Michigan, Medicine, http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/tv.htm.

 

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

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

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I recently re-read an older study that found those who had watches had higher levels of stress and heart disease. The conclusion was that those who checked their watches were more worried about being places, being on time, etc. This study reminded me of my behavior when I lost my watch, and felt lost for a while. In fact I kept checking my wrist to see what time it was. I can’t say that I was less stressed without my watch, or at least from my recollection. I wondered if the watch example relates to other monitoring, or checking activities we do every day like weighing ourselves, setting alarms, checking e-mails, getting dings on each new text, traffic alerts of a broken down car ahead, using a steps counter, monitoring heart rate, sitting time, blood pressure, or blood sugars? There are even devices that measure stress! Are all of these “feedback” devices important and necessary to our health and quality of life?

As a type 1 diabetic, I check my blood glucose about 3 times per day and make adjustments to what I eat, do, or how much insulin I take. I’ve been considering a continuous blood glucose monitor that will check my sugar automatically every 5 minutes so that I would be better able to manage diabetes. It should make me healthier, right? This watch study keeps popping into my mind as I contemplate purchasing this device. I should have better blood sugar levels, but what about my stress? Will my obsession with blood sugars numbers outweigh any gains with improved bio-metrics?

Like anything in science, we have to be careful about overgeneralizing one study and applying the results to other things in life. Comparing the stress of obsessing over time to blood sugar monitoring might be a stretch, but I think we need to be concerned about the broader context of the impact of technology on our mental health. Is it really important to know how many steps I got in before noon, or the sleep patterns that a Fitbit monitors? Do all of these things help us be healthier, or more stressed, and prone to anxiety and depression?

Mental health experts are all asking these very questions. Mindfulness exercises might be an approach that can help us deal with the frenzied pace of life, and the constant feedback that many of these devices offer. Mindfulness is a mind and body practice that centers on the connections between the brain, mind, body and behavior. Benefits of mindfulness include:

  • Decreased stress and anxiety and rumination
  • Improved attention, memory and the ability to focus
  • Reduced chronic pain
  • Increased immune system
  • Relationship satisfaction and promotion of empathy and compassion

Take a break from your  “devices” and practice the following:

  • Breathing exercises can be done individually, or by listening to an instructor or an audio guide of a breathing exercise. Unlike when breathing is an automatic function, this mindful technique encourages taking a moment to be present, and focus on completely inhaling and exhaling air in and out of the lungs. Afterwards, this exercise usually leads to the healthy default of deeper, slower breathing.
  • A Body Scan simply means noticing each part of the body without judgement. It can be done sitting or lying down and helps with awareness of each part of the body and how it feels at the moment.
  • Imagery exercises help picture a calming place for relaxation. This technique, also called visualization, focuses on a positive mental image to replace negative thoughts and feelings.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation includes tensing and relaxing different muscle groups of the body to decrease physical tension in the muscles. The tensing and releasing encourages letting go of physical stress.
  • Yoga, tai chi or other physical activity that helps focus on the body and current movements offer a physical focus on the meditation. They offer physical benefits as well as mental relaxation.
  • Mindful Eating promotes taking the time to slow down to enjoy food by using all the senses. This can encourage feelings of gratefulness, fullness and greater enjoyment of food.

Consider other stress management techniques and consider taking “digital device holidays,” immerse yourself in nature, go hiking, camping but be sure to unplug every now and then. Take off your watch, step counter, turn off your phone, TV, computer, and everything else that involves electronics. Set a goal to unplug a few times a week or month.

Author: Dan Remley, MSPH, PhD, Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Reviewer:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

References:

Heer, C. & Rini, J. (2016). OSU Factsheet HYG 5242 “Stress Coping Methods” found at http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5242

Levine, R.V., Lynch, K., Miyake, K. et al. J Behav Med (1989) 12: 509. doi:10.1007/BF00844822

Powers-Barker, P. (2016).  OSU Factsheet HYG-5243-0 “Introduction to Mindfulness” found at http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243-0 

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Do you find yourself running from one activity or commitment to another? Do you find it difficult to get everything done on your to do list? Do you get to the end of your week and wonder where it went? If so, maybe it is time to reestablish your priorities.

Many of us wear our busyness like a badge of honor when maybe instead it’s a burden that needs unloaded. Organizational and time management skills can help youcalendar-1868106_640 be more efficient. But even the best time management strategies aren’t enough to tackle a schedule that is just too full. David Goldsmith in his book, “Paid to Think: A Leader’s Toolkit to Redefining Your Future” recommends scheduling only up to 60% of your day. That leaves you a cushion of 40% for interruptions, delays and the unexpected. We tend to be over-optimistic about what we can accomplish in a day. This principle applies to both work and personal life.

There is no easy checklist for finding that balance, but here are some things to consider:

Set priorities… and that means making tough choices… letting something go. Before committing to yet another project or volunteer opportunity or an activity for your child… ask yourself if it fits into the 60% of your life. Does it align with your family’s priorities?

Get on the same page. Make sure your family agrees on priorities. Before you add a big commitment to the family calendar, check with your spouse to avoid unnecessary time crunches.

Realize you cannot do everything. As much as we try to do it all, we have limits. Be realistic with your calendar and your energy level on the number of commitments you have.

Say no. We probably kick oursfamily-2149453_960_720elves more often for saying yes when we should have said no. Such a little word and yet so much power to free up the schedule. There is a great Live Smart Ohio blog for points to consider about overscheduled kids .

 

Keep your focus. Reestablishing priorities is a cyclical process as we go through life. Make sure those priorities show up on your daily to do list, as a way of being intentional about keeping your focus on what is most important.

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

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County

Sources:

Chapman, S & Rupured, M. Time Management: 10 Strategies for Better Time Management (C 1042), University of Georgia Extension, April 2014.

Goldsmith, D. Paid to Think: A Leader’s Toolkit to Redefining Your Future. BenBella Books, Inc., Oct 23, 2012.

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Many people are experimenting with coloring or dyeing eggs with natural dyes – have you been thinking about trying it? My family has a tradition to dye eggs with onion skins that we always called “Bunny Eggs”. These beautiful brown/golden eggs have a marbled look that adults especially love. If you are interested in trying to dye eggs naturally here are a few tips:

  • Start by making hard boiled eggs – use un-cracked eggs that have been boiled in a covered pot for 4 minutes, then left in the covered pot (removed from the stove) for 15 to 17 minutes. At that point place pot in sink and cover with cold water, let eggs sit in cool water until completely cool. Dry eggs. If you can’t color eggs right away, refrigerate them.
  • To make your natural dye – place a small amount of your natural material in a pot of 2 cups of cold water and bring to a boil, and simmer for up to 10 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Remove materials and cool in the refrigerator.
  • Once dye is cool – add hard cooked egg and 1 teaspoon of vinegar. Soak to desired color.
  • If you want to be able to eat the eggs, they must be kept refrigerated and only at room-temperature for 2 hours or less. These would not be eggs you would hide in the grass for example or someplace that animals could get to them.

Ideas for natural dyes:

Blue or purple – grape juice, red grapes, blue or blackberries, or red cabbage.

Brown – coffee grounds, black tea, or walnut shells.

Orange – ground cumin.

Yellow – orange or lemon peels, curry powder, or dandelions.

Pink – red beets.

Green – fresh cranberries.

Yellowish green – spinach.

Dark yellow/brown/rust – onion skins.

If you want a marbled effect to the dye, add 1 tablespoon of oil to the water before adding your egg in the dyeing process.

My family makes our eggs with onion skins wrapped around the raw eggs, with a piece of cheese cloth tied around it. Then the eggs are boiled. It takes a fair amount of skins, so you may need to buy a bag of onions. (Cheese cloth is usually found with canning materials or at the hardware to be used with staining of furniture.)

Hard boiled eggs that have been properly stored by refrigeration can be eaten for up to one week. Eggs are best not stored in the refrigerator door.

What natural egg dyes do you plan to try this year? I froze some cranberries and can’t wait to see what happens when using them to make a natural egg dye.

Sources:

Penn State Extension, http://extension.psu.edu/plants/master-gardener/counties/adams/news/2015/dare-to-dye-differently-natural-dying-of-easter-eggs.

University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, http://jackson.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/04/03/dyeing-eggs-the-natural-way/.

University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension, http://lancaster.unl.edu/hort/youth/printer-friendly/coloringeggs.pdf.

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

Reviewer: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County.

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Is it possible that living around more green spaces can improve or help your health?  It can walk in parkhelp you live longer according to a 2016 analysis by Harvard School of Public Health researchers in a study of 100,000 women.  Women living in the areas with the most greenness in an area within a tenth of a mile had a 12% lower rate of death compared to women who lived in areas with the lowest level of greenness.  Women in the highest area of greenness had a:

  • 13% lower rate for cancer mortality
  • 35% lower respiratory disease-related mortality
  • 41% lower rate for kidney disease mortality

So why do researchers think green space may improve your health?  They think it is a combination of factors which include:

  • Lower levels of depression
  • Increases social engagement
  • Higher levels of physical activity
  • Lower levels of pollution

When examining why people in green spaces might have lower levels of depression it is believed people who live in greener areas are more likely to go outside which exposes them to sunlight.  Being exposed to sunlight helps people make more Vitamin D.  Depression is associated with lower levels of Vitamin D.   Participating in social activities and being with friends can help decrease feelings of loneliness and depression.  Experiencing nature and being outside has shown to increase feelings of well-being.   Some research links images of nature with an increased positive mood.

Higher levels of physical activity helps a person be more fit and usually healthier.  Exercise is good medicine.  The women who lived in greener spaces were more physically active in this research study. flowers-113503_960_720

Trees, plants, grass and flowers all help reduce pollution.  Plants reduce the levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter which helps lower pollution.  Those women who lived near the highest amount of vegetation saw a reduced rate of death from respiratory disease by about one-third.  Plants can help clean up our air and help us breathe cleaner air. gravel-road-1031726__340

All this is good news if you live in green spaces with heavy vegetation.  Be sure to take the opportunity to get outside, walk or bike around your neighborhood, find friends or family members to walk with you, and enjoy being outdoors.

If you don’t live in an area with much vegetation check to see if you can plant some trees, plants and/or bushes.  Put some potted plants on your patio or near your front door if it is outside.  Encourage your city or town to be a “Tree City” and plant more trees.   Go visit a friend or meet a friend in the park to walk and enjoy the outside.  Try taking a vacation in areas with heavy vegetation.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Tammy Jones, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

References:

Frates, E. (2017). Time Spent in “Green Places” Linked with Longer Life in Women, Harvard Health Blog.  Available at http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/time-spent-green-places-linked-longer-life-women-2017030911152

Mann, D. (2012).  Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Depression.  Available at http://www.webmd.com/depression/news/20120627/vitamin-d-deficiency-linked-to-depression#1

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I can remember sitting with my twin daughters, trying to figure out how one could be so easy going, easy to please, and agreeable, while the other was on the opposite of spectrum. I spent countless hours trying to make sense of how two people so much alike could be so different. They were the same gender, same age, and same biologically, but the biggest difference between them was their temperament. Through the process of parenting, I learned that my responses and techniques would need to be different to address the uniqueness of both children. Understanding a child’s temperament can help reduce the stress of parenting.

When parents understand how their children react to certain situations, they can learn to anticipate issues that might present difficulties for their child.  They can prepare their child for the situation or in other cases they may be able to avoid a difficult situation altogether. Parents can learn to tailor their parenting strategies to the particular temperamental characteristics of the child.  Parents often feel more effective as thepouting childy more fully understand and appreciate their child’s unique personality.

Children are born with their own natural style of interacting with or reacting to people, places and things.  This is called their temperament.  In the late 1950’s, researchers identified nine temperament traits or characteristics.  They found that
these nine traits were present at birth and continued to influence development throughout the life cycle.  Temperament is different from personality, which is really a combination of temperament and life experiences.  Think of temperament as a set of in-born traits that help organize your child’s approach to the world.

There are nine recognized temperament traits.  Each temperament has a description and parents are encouraged to rate their child on a scale from 1-5.

  • Activity level.  How active is your child?  Are her movements quick or slow?
  • Adaptability.  How quickly does your child adjust to changes in life?  How quickly does he/she adapt to new people, places, foods or things?
  • Approach.  What is your child’s first reaction to new people, places, or experiences?  Is he/she eager for new experiences or reluctant?
  • Distractibility.  Is your child easily interrupted by things going on around him?  Does he continue to work or play when noise is present?
  • Intensity.  How much energy does your child use to express emotions?  Does he/she laugh or cry vigorously?  Or, does he/she smile and fuss mildly?
  • Mood.  What mood does your child usually display?  Do
    es your child see the world as a pleasant place?
  • Persistence.  How long does your child continue with a difficult activity?  Can he continue when frustrated?  Can he stop when asked?
  • Regularity.  Does your child have a predictable internal cl
    ock?  Does he/she generally get hungry, sleepy, or have bowel movements at the same time every day?
  • Sensory threshold.  How aware is your child of his/her physical world?  How sensitive is she/he to changes in sound, light, touch, pain, taste, and odor?

 Understanding that these inborn behavioral tendencies are not the result of bad parenting is perhaps one of the most important insights parents gain from learning more about temperament. I wish I had known about the importance of temperament when my children were growing up.  I can look back now and see why there were some struggles.

Writer: Kathy Green, Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, Top of Ohio EERA

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

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