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Archive for the ‘Healthy Relationships’ Category

a girl crying

I have been dealing with “girl bullying” with my daughters. I even went to the school, but the teacher dismissed it and stated, “Oh, she wouldn’t do that! I can’t see her saying that.” At that moment I was angry that the teacher completely dismissed my daughter’s feelings and did not believe her. I instantly felt as if it was a waste of time having a discussion with her. I reminded her bullying is not just physical, it can be a look, a whisper, one person telling a group not to talk to an individual, or rumors and exclusion.

Bullying is not always physical, it can be emotional. Girls are more known for “relational bullying” which includes exclusion, forming cliques, gossiping, spreading rumors, nasty comments, cyberbullying, out casting, sharing secrets, and backstabbing. This usually involves recruiting others to do the same. Relational bullying can often have side effects. Some effects include depression, anxiety, withdrawal from friends and family, missing school, change in behavior, suicidal ideation, PTSD, confusion, and anger. 

We are halfway through the summer, and I thought I had given my daughters the tools they needed to ease the situation. I was thinking, “Haven’t we all been bullied? Haven’t we all felt not good enough, not part of the team?” I was completely wrong! Parents, times have changed! When we were bullied and left for summer break, we may have not seen our bullies until school started again in the fall. Social media has changed that for our children. The bullying does not stop during the summer, it continues through Snap Chat, Instagram, TIK TOK, and group texts. The goal is the same: excluding and out casting the victim. I have now made it a priority to monitor screen-time and the apps my children are using.  I have began monitoring their phones and have discussed the dangers of social media with my children. 

How can we help our daughters build resilience when they are going through this difficult time?

  • Don’t overreact– It is hard for parents not to worry, but if our daughters see us worrying and reacting, they may feel as if it is their fault and that they are not living up to our expectations. We need to be strong and listen to how they are doing and feeling.
  • Communicate and Listen– Be a good listener. Do not make assumptions or interrupt. After they finish talking, ask questions to let them know you were listening. Help them come up with solutions and include them in brainstorming solutions. Ask them questions like “What do you think you can say next time?” or “What do you think might work?”  and “What will make you feel better?” 
  • Validate Anger- Your child has the right to feel angry. Make sure they know they are valuable, and find ways for them to cope and build resilience. Let them know they can expect better from a friendship. 
  • Seek alternatives– If the bullying is occurring at school, let your child develop friendships outside of school. Use community resources to find activities they are interested in.
  • Talk to the School– Even if your child is developing new relationships outside of school you still to need to inform the school. Let your child know if you contact the school. If your child fears that contacting the school will cause more ridicule, you may want to come up with a discreet plan. Most teachers are willing to talk, and teachers can call out behavior or help deter bullying behavior. Be mindful that teachers may be in a difficult position if the bully is a star athlete or a child of a prominent community member. Even if schools have anti-bullying policies some policies may privilege some students over others. If this is the case you may need to contact the superintendent, principal, or school board.
  • Allow them to figure it out– Discuss what a “good friend” is with your child. Role play how to deal with conflict.  Discuss reasons why someone who is bullying is suffering. Remind them they need to treat people with respect, but they don’t need to be friends with everyone!

Sources:

Schatt, D., (2018) Relational Bullying:  What Is It and What Can You do About It, JEM Foundation. https://thejemfoundation.com/relational-bullying-what-is-it-and-what-can-you-do-about-it/

Marrison, E. (2020) Teens and Screens:  What Parents Should Know.  Live Healthy Live Well blog, Ohio State University Extension. https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/06/25/teens-and-screens-what-parents-should-know/

Canty, J., Stubbe, M., Steers, D., Collings, S (2014) The Trouble with Bullying- Deconstructing the Conventional Definition of Bullying for a Child-Centered Investigation into Children’s Use of social media.  National Children’s Bureau. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/chso.12103

Written by:  Kellie Lemly MEd, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Champaign County, Lemly.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Education, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

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a computer with a reload icon that reads "reset"

With a year of COVID behind us, we found that not being able to have face to face meetings and events forced us into more digital means of connecting. Youth experienced online school, employees worked from home, and even our entertainment and socialization involved technology – and all of this technology in our homes caused a digital fatigue. While there was somewhat of a reprieve in the summer, our smartphones still kept us digitally connected.

In September 2020, I discovered a book by Cal Newport, a Computer Science Faculty member at Georgetown University, called Digital Minimalism. He defines digital minimalism as “a philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of activities that strongly support the things that you value, and then happily miss out on everything else”. Ironically, even though he teaches Computer Science, he has never been on social media. The other interesting thing I found was that he authored this book pre-Covid. Even though I enjoy technology and like to stay up on the latest digital gadgets, I was already feeling the fatigue of being attached to my phone 24/7. I decided to take his 30-day digital decluttering challenge consisting of three steps:

  1. Define your technology rules and limit your technology use
  2. Take a 30-day break from a specific technology, i.e., social media
  3. Reintroduce technology slowly

I decided to take a 30 day break from Facebook, which for those who know me is a challenging thing to do, as I have been on Facebook for 15 years. On October 4, I deleted the app off my devices and told my co-workers I would not be on Facebook for a month. While not intentional, my 30-day experiment ended the day after the Presidential election, so the biggest joy that I had was not having to see all the political banter. Overall, I only felt I missed two things while I was not on Facebook for 30 days: my daughter’s senior pictures that the photographer posted, and her senior night volleyball pictures, which my wife showed me on her phone. Prior to this experiment I was spending two hours a day on Facebook, or 1/12 of my day, or essentially one month of each year!

Cal Newport shares other ways of continuing in digital minimalism after completing the initial 30-day challenge, such as deleting apps on your phone that you frequent the most. I never put the Facebook app back on my phone after last November, and I now have to log in to a web browser to see Facebook. This extra step makes it harder to connect and I do not log on too frequently. Ultimately, most of us remember a time when we survived without being connected 24/7. I encourage you to set your own 30-day digital minimalism challenge, and then keep exploring ways to reduce your technology use and “happily miss out on everything else”.

Sources:

Alevizou, G. (2020). Virtual schooling, Covid-gogy and digital fatigue. Parenting for a Digital Future. https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/parenting4digitalfuture/2020/04/08/virtual-schooling-covid-gogy/

Newport, C. (2019). Digital minimalism: Choosing a focused life in a noisy world. https://www.calnewport.com/books/digital-minimalism/

Written by Mark D. Light, Ph.D., Leader, Ohio 4-H STEM & Digital Engagement Innovations

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, MPH, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

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Choices of peanut butter on a shelf

As an Extension Field Specialist, I have coached traditional food pantries where food is pre-selected to help them transition to a client-choice model where food is chosen based on preferences and needs. Client-choice pantries provide a more dignified experience for people and can be more efficient at preventing food waste since unwanted items aren’t discarded. For many low-income Americans, choosing where and how to grocery shop might be viewed as a privilege reserved for those with greater incomes. The same could be said for people living in developing countries where food, water, and material resources aren’t as abundant. For those of us fortunate enough to have the privilege of choice, we face the challenge of having too much choice. Whether it be food, clothing, TV stations, housing, spouses, lifestyle, investments, hobbies, or even medical procedures, having too many choices can lead to isolation, paralysis in decision making, anxiety, and depression. At the societal level too much choice might lead to waste, tribalism, and perhaps public health problems.

Sometimes we are faced with so much choice that we don’t know what to choose and we become almost paralyzed in our decision making. We are afraid to make the wrong choice, and feel as if we need to further investigate all of the options, which takes time (something I seem to have less of). As a result, we sometimes put off big decisions. I’ve been thinking about purchasing a new insulin pump for my diabetes but there are so many products. In addition, working with insurance to purchase the new product is a headache, so I have yet to make a decision.

Another challenge is choice inflates our expectations and sometimes deflates our satisfaction if we think we made the wrong choice. For example, I was trying to decide between two restaurants the other night, one Indian, the other Mexican. I went with the Mexican and it was good, but part of me wondered if the Indian would have been better. As a result of this thinking, I wasn’t as happy with my experience and I likely missed out on some of the enjoyment of the outing. Although this example seems trivial, all of the choices we make everyday and the sometimes resulting stress, anxiety, and dissatisfaction could lead to mental and physical health problems.

At the societal level, too much choice contributes to many small and large-scale problems. Material goods such as food, electronics, and clothing are discarded because people have the option of newer and better choices. I’ve wasted leftover food because I’ve had the choice of eating out. Too much choice might lead to tribalism, isolation, and less cohesion. Growing up, my family had three channels on TV. We watched whatever was on as a family. Now, my three kids are plugged into their phones watching their own shows, etc. I hardly get to talk with them. Thirty years ago, our nation was more cohesive and less tribal. Everyone watched the world series for example, since there weren’t as many options for sports. In terms of public health challenges, we have so many choices for fast food, unhealthy snacks, etc that obesity is more common than ever. We can choose whether or not to get vaccinated, which places others at risk for disease.

What to do? There are two dimensions of wellness to consider for guidance: spiritual and environmental. Spiritual wellness can help people become satisfied and grounded with who they are and with choices they make. Some traditions teach that desires and cravings lead to suffering and seek to reduce these states of mind. Environmental wellness can help people reduce consumption, or reuse new products etc. and thus not feel stressed about getting the newest and greatest item out there.

Obviously, choice is a good thing, and I don’t think any of us want to live in a world where we don’t have any choices. However, we need to reflect on the consequences of having too much choice for our own health, and the health of our families and communities. In any event, I hope this was helpful in some way and I am glad you “chose” to read this…….

Author: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness Associate Professor, Ohio State University Extension, remely.4@osu.edu

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Sources:

Remley, D., Franzen-Castle, L., McCormack, L., & Eicher-Miller, H. A. (2019). Chronic Health Condition Influences on Client Perceptions of Limited or Non-choice Food Pantries in Low-income, Rural Communities. American Journal of Health Behavior43(1), 105–118. https://doi-org.proxy.lib.ohio-state.edu/10.5993/AJHB.43.1.9

Schwartz, Barry. The Paradox of Choice. TED talk. Accessed on 7/20/21 at The paradox of choice | Barry Schwartz – YouTube

William and Mary University. The Eight Dimensions of Wellness. Accessed on 7/19/21 at The Eight Dimensions of Wellness | William & Mary (wm.edu)

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a woman smiling

Fat is a metabolically active tissue that plays a role in hormone control and regulation, keeps us warm, cushions our organs, and acts as storage for energy and vitamins. Fat is a vital and irreplaceable part of our bodies, and yet the word “fat” is almost exclusively used derogatorily. There are few words in our vocabulary that carry as much weight as the word “fat”. We live in fear of being called “fat”, go to extreme lengths to avoid gaining fat, and harshly judge others who we perceive to be “fat”. Though many individuals are choosing to reclaim the term “fat” as an objective descriptor of a body, much in the same way tall and short are used, fat bias is real and harmful.

Some studies suggest that fat bias, also known as weight stigma, is more prevalent and embedded into our society than discrimination based on race or ethnicity. Bias towards fat persons is on the rise, and it leads to poor social, mental, and physical health outcomes for those targeted by it. Many adverse health effects commonly attributed to obesity can be worsened or even caused by weight discrimination. People who have experienced weight discrimination have a 60% increased risk of death compared to those who have not, regardless of their BMI. This increased risk is attributable to several factors, one of them being the increased stress felt by those facing the discrimination. Another is the fat bias prevalent in the healthcare system. In a 2014 survey of medical students, two-thirds demonstrated overt bias toward fat patients, and half described them as “lazy, unmotivated, noncompliant, and unhealthy.” Whether this bias is conscious or implicit, studies show that doctors build less emotional rapport and spend less time with obese patients.

With fat bias being so ingrained into our society, dismantling the negative connotation of the word “fat” will not be easy. However, you can begin to dissect and act to change your personal biases using these steps from activist and author Aubrey Gordon:

  1. Acknowledge your own fat bias. It will be uncomfortable, but becoming aware of your attitudes and beliefs is the first step to changing them. 
  2. Diversify your social media. Fill your social media feed(s) with people of all shapes and sizes. We have grown up believing there is one ideal body type out there, and that is not realistic. Begin to immerse yourself in a world where bodies that don’t look like the traditional ideal are still deserving of love. 
  3. Do some research. Educate yourself on the wide-reaching effects of fat bias. Begin to break down some of the myths about size and weight that we have been taught to believe, such as “weight loss is easy if you just exercise and eat well”. Start with the studies linked in this blog, and then continue to learn more. 
  4. Have conversations with fat friends and family members. This one may be difficult, but it’s important to understand the experiences of those who may have experienced weight stigma. Ask how you can better support your loved ones in a world where they are or have been judged based on their size, and not who they are as people. 
  5. Speak up. When you see fat bias or become the target of it, do not just let it go on. Challenge the thoughts of those who make comments or openly discriminate. This not only brings awareness to those involved, but it sends a message to the fat people around you that you are an ally in this fight for equality. 

All people, no matter the size or shape of their body, deserve to be valued and treated equally. Let’s start taking the steps to make this a reality.  

Sources:

Gordon, A. (2020). 7 Ways to Uproot Your Anti-Fat Bias. Medium. https://humanparts.medium.com/7-ways-to-uproot-your-anti-fat-bias-54f01d76ec3b.

Gudzune, K.A., Beach, M.C., Roter, D.L. & Cooper, L.A. (2013). Physicians build less rapport with obese patients. Obesity;21(10):2146-2152. doi:10.1002/oby.20384 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3694993/

Hebl, M. & Xu, J. (2001). Weighing the care: Physicians’ reactions to the size of a patient. International Journal of Obesity;25:1246–1252. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0801681 https://www.nature.com/articles/0801681

Phelan, S., Dovidio, J., Puhl, R. et al. Implicit and explicit weight bias in a national sample of 4,732 medical students: The medical student CHANGES study. Obesity. 2014;22(4):1201-1208. doi:10.1002/oby.20687 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/oby.20687

Tomiyama, A., Carr, D., Granberg, E. et al. How and why weight stigma drives the obesity ‘epidemic’ and harms health. BMC Med 16, 123 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-018-1116-5 

Written by: Maddie Gottfried, Dietetic Intern, The Ohio State University

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

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In a month, on my 49th birthday, my youngest child starts the first day of her last year of school. As a mom, I have mixed emotions. I’m excited for her and all she has and will accomplish, yet I am sad that my baby is a senior. Where did all of those years go? Just yesterday a social media memory reminding me that she passed her driver’s test popped up. It seems like yesterday when she was in the driveway practicing her maneuvering (parallel parking) over and over in preparation. Now, she drives herself wherever, whenever she wants.

My mom teaching my daughter how to drive her stick shift car

As she enters this year of “lasts,” I too will be entering a year of lasts. This will be my last year in my 40’s.  I can remember thinking about my last year in my 30’s. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to be experiencing another birthday! As I have said, “I want to get older, but I don’t want to get old.” In my 22 years working in healthcare, I saw younger people who were much older than their chronological age and older people who were younger than theirs. I decided very quickly that I wanted to be the latter. I’m sure my children would say I am old, though.

This year of lasts will be filled with lots of happiness and joy, as well as LOTS of tears, especially on my part. My kids make fun of me for crying at the drop of a hat. My colleague recently wrote a blog about the benefits of crying, so as the tears stream down my face, and they for sure will, I will not worry so much about hiding my tears. While I certainly don’t want to rain on her parade as these exciting events occur, I am mourning these last moments with my last child. I find myself thinking about all the things I wish I would have done while my kids were young and here all the time. Had I known how fast time would pass, I would have made more emotional deposits. While it’s never too late to start, I wish I would have worried less about cleaning the house or whatever else I thought was important.

Though all of the decisions my daughter will face over the next year will be exciting for sure, they may also be stressful. The American Psychological Association gives these symptoms of stress that you may see in your child:

  • Irritability and anger:  Stressed-out kids and teens might be more short-tempered or argumentative than normal.
  • Changes in behavior:  Sudden changes can signal that stress levels are high.
  • Trouble sleeping: A child or teen might complain of feeling constantly tired, sleep more than usual, or have trouble falling asleep.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: An adolescent may suddenly drop the ball on homework, forget obligations, or start procrastinating more than usual due to stress.
  • Eating changes: Eating too much or too little can be reaction to stress.
  • Getting sick more often: Stress often shows up as physical symptoms. Children who feel stress often report headaches or stomachaches and might make frequent trips to the school nurse.
My mom, my 3 kids, and me

As my daughter and I navigate this next year, I want to support her as she prepares for the next stage of life. We toured one of her 3 college picks last month, we will be touring a second one next week and the final one during fall. As I have watched her two older brothers make a few mistakes along the way, I know she too will make her own mistakes. These tips from AARP can help parents to maintain a healthy relationship with their children as they enter into and navigate adulthood:

  • Observe respectful boundaries.
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Do what you love together and intimacy will follow.
  • Set ground rules for how to disagree.
  • Make room for the significant others in their lives.

I’m not too worried about my daughter and her ability to handle this next year, though I’m not sure about me. While the ultimate job of parenting is to put ourselves out of a job, I hope my children always want me to be part of their lives even when they are responsible, productive, well-adjusted adults who no longer need my guidance or reassurance.

Written by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Melissa J. Rupp, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, rupp.26@osu.edu

References:

American Psychological Association. (2019, October 24). How to help children and teens manage their stress. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/child-development/stress  

Fishel, E., & Arnett, D. J. J. (2013, April). Parenting Adult Children, Friendship with Grown-Up Kid. AARP. https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-04-2013/parenting-adult-children-family-relationships.html

Quealy, K., & Miller, C. C. (2019, March 13). Young Adulthood in America: Children Are Grown, but Parenting Doesn’t Stop. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/13/upshot/parenting-new-norms-grown-children-extremes.html?.%3Fmc=aud_dev&ad-keywords=auddevgate&gclid=CjwKCAjw3MSHBhB3EiwAxcaEu8XfiLpibGmTN7PCkXe2x6aXx8W8tmUtlXmcAUyEfZ_dgOyHSxt_NBoCVj8QAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds.

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sun shining on a bed of wildflowers

As health restrictions are lifting from the pandemic, I have been able to interact with more people in person. When others ask how I’m doing, I say “fine” … but what I really want to say is “meh.” I’m doing okay… not depressed… but not great either. I find that I really have to psyche myself up for another week of work, and for certain tasks at work and home. I usually rise to the occasion, but it takes a lot of energy to overcome the urge to seek the solitude or even the isolation that I thought I couldn’t wait to escape.

A colleague pointed me to an enlightening article on languishing and it captured so much of what I have felt in the past few months. Psychologists describe languishing as slightly withered, wilted or faded. The pandemic has left a lot of people feeling this way. Initially, the pandemic may have incited feelings of fear, anxiety, dread and paralysis… and as these feelings have faded, they have left languish in their wake.

Emory University Professor Corey Keyes has been publishing about languishing since 2002, but it took the pandemic to bring greater attention to this work. Keyes describes languish as the absence of feeling good about life and lacking purpose or meaning in one’s life. Languish is the middle ground between depression and optimal well-being or flourishing. While depression is clinically diagnosable with the presence of certain behaviors, languish is feeling indifference, emptiness, and stagnation. Keyes’ research found languish to be a predictor of developing depression and anxiety as well as increased risk of suicide attempts. We need to acknowledge and treat languish so it doesn’t turn into depression later, and so we can live our best lives.

How do we move from languishing to flourishing? Thankfully, there are research-backed steps we can take. In fact, there are entire programs at universities dedicated to helping others flourish: The Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University, Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing at the University of Oklahoma, and The Wellbeing at Work project at the University of Notre Dame. Here are some of their highlights:

Name your feelings – It helps to identify emotions and give them a name. Once you identify languish and name it, you can start to deal with it. You might start to notice examples of it all around you in family members, friends, co-workers.

Find your flow – Flow can be described as feeling fully engaged or even engrossed in an activity that motivates and excites you. For me recently, that has been home improvement projects, from the smallest detail like a broken switch plate cover, to larger re-wiring or painting projects. As long as I have something to keep me focused, I can find my flow. As one project concludes, I line up another. Perhaps the activity that will get you into flow is learning something new. The act of learning a new task or skill can engage your brain and sharpen your focus.

Free yourself from disruptions – Give yourself what your brain might be craving: time to become engrossed in an activity and let it captivate you. We find joy and purpose when we can gain a sense of progress on an activity or task.

Focus on a small goal – Is there a goal you can set to increase your skills or strengthen your resolve? Find a challenge that is meaningful to you and commit time to it each day.

Cultivate gratitude – Recognize and savor the good in your present situation. Imagine your best possible self, and volunteer or provide acts of kindness for others to make your best self a reality.

Start wherever you are… and if that is languish, decide to take a small step toward blooming and flourishing. If languish is like a fading photograph, then imagine steps toward flourishing as a color touch-up, bringing vibrancy back into your life. Share your journey with someone, as you just might help them out. It could be refreshingly authentic to answer ‘meh’ next time someone asks how you are doing.

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

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County

Sources:

Grant, A. (2020). There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing. New York Times. Published April 19, 2021, Updated May 5, 2021

Keyes, C.L. (2002). The Mental Health Continuum: From Languishing to Flourishing in Life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43(2), 207-222. doi:10.2307/3090197

Keyes, C. L., Dhingra, S. S., & Simoes, E. J. (2010). Change in level of positive mental health as a predictor of future risk of mental illness. American journal of public health100(12), 2366–2371. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2010.192245

VanderWeele, T.J. (2017). On the promotion of human flourishing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A., 31:8148-8156.

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Summertime! What memories do you have of time spent as a child during June, July, and August? There may be summer chores that come to mind like tending the garden or mowing lawns. But I do hope that you have some freedom memories as well, like riding your bike, swimming, spending time in the woods, or other outside pleasures.

Child playing in spraying water

My first tendency is to create plans and then strategically schedule, schedule, schedule. How can we squeeze in this trip before that trip and still fit in camps? How can I make sure my kids are reading regularly and contributing to household chores?

Then, in the midst of this sea of questions, float images of my own childhood memories. Many of them are of the spontaneity of summer. Cannonball competitions at the community pool while 80s pop music blasted over the speakers. Swinging on the big tree swing at our family shelter by the river.

I want that for my children. In these transition years from child to adult, they are not little adults, they are adolescents. Play is so important that it has been recognized by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights as “the right of every child.” The American Academy of Pediatrics says that play, or free time in the case of older children and youth, is essential to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.

Children paying ball outside in a grove of trees

This summer I want to intentionally let my kids be bored at times. Why is that such a button-pushing word for many parents? Have we really failed as parents if we hear “I’m bored” from our kids? We have many jobs as parents, but it is not our job to constantly entertain and provide things for our children to do. They will create their own play. Carrie Shrier, Michigan State University Extension, explains that complex play takes time to develop. It involves rules, conversation, negotiation, and organization on their part, not ours. Resist the temptation to give children something to do. You might be surprised how involved and complex their play becomes when adults don’t interfere.

In our home this summer, we will still have expected times to go to bed and rise and shine. There will also be expectations for barn chores, house chores, and yard chores. But, I hope my kids will be pleasantly surprised that their “rules making mama” expects them to play and explore in their own way – technology free – each and every day.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Kellie Lemly, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Champaign County

Sources:

Shrier, C. (2016, June 8) Five rules for summer play. Michigan State University Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/five_rules_for_summer_play

Yogman, M., Garner, A., Hutchinson, J., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2018). The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children. Pediatrics, 142(3). https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2018-2058

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When was the last time you fell in love? Maybe it was when you found a special someone, got a new puppy or saw a beautiful grand-baby for the first time. What about falling in love with nature? It only takes a moment to stop and notice things happening in nature, and the good news is you do not have to be a naturalist to reap the benefits of bringing nature into your daily life!

Experiencing nature can be a simple as stopping to notice the big, puffy white clouds in the sky or watching the sun set from your window. The other day I found beautiful bright pink pinecones on a tree that I walk by every single day and never noticed. When we stop and notice the little things in nature, we begin experiencing a deeper connection to something more.

Pink pinecones
Photo source: Shari Gallup, 2021. “Pink Pinecones.”

Nature has a way of calming and healing the human mind and body. Have you ever noticed that you feel happier when you spend time in nature?

Spending time in nature can reduce blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension. Research done in hospitals, offices and schools found that the presence of a plant in a workroom can decrease stress and anxiety, and office plants have been shown to reduce employee sick days and improve work productivity.

It is easy to let daily life go by with the busyness of ballgames, work, and other activities, but it only takes a moment to stop and “smell the roses.”  If it is not possible to get outside, here are a few ways to bring nature inside:

Bring plants indoors: I keep a mint plant on my desk and between meetings, I scratch the leaf to release the oil scent and take a few deep breaths in through my nose. My eyes naturally begin to close, and I become calm. Plants help reduce stress and tension. Choose plants that you enjoy and that are easy to grow indoors, or bring in fresh flowers and place them in a container where you can see them.  

Bring the smell of nature indoors: Bring in aromatic flowers, herbs, or pinecones, or use diffusers, candles, or sprays in natural scents like pine, citrus, lavender, or lemon.

Watch the birds:  Set up a bird or suet feeder near a popular window, grab a pair of binoculars if you have one, and watch nature from indoors. There is a lot of great information available from the National Audubon Society if you are new to bird watching, and there are many benefits to becoming a bird nerd

If you want to fall in love with nature, start with something small at first, or choose just one of the suggestions above and go slow…that’s the whole idea!

If you would like to learn more, please join me for a free class on Nature and Nutrition on June 9th at noon!  Register at https://go.osu.edu/wellnessweds.

Written by Shari Gallup, MS, Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Licking County

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, MPH, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County and Laura Stanton, MS, Family and Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Warren County.

Sources:

Beans, Laura (2014).  Study Shows Living Close to Nature Improves Mental Health. https://www.ecowatch.com/study-shows-living-close-to-nature-improves-mental-health-1881858780.html

National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (2015). #PlantsDoThat. https://consumerhort.org/plantsdothat-3/

University of Minnesota. Taking Charge of Your Wellbeing. Healing Environment. https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/healing-environment  

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Whether it’s ‘Mother,’ ‘Mom,’ ‘Mommy,’ ‘Momma,’ ‘Mum’, ‘Ma,’ or another name, the individuals who hold this role have an impact on society. Biological, adopted, step, assumed, pet, foster, etc., mothers and mother-figures have an enormous role in the lives of those who look to them for guidance, reassurance, assistance, comfort, knowledge, understanding, compassion, patience, and love.

This past weekend many celebrated Mother’s Day. While some are fortunate to still have mothers, others are not. Whether you spent time with your mother or not, hopefully, you were able to reminisce the past. I have fun memories of my mom from my childhood and beyond and I hope my children do with me. While I am not perfect, my goal as a mother has always been to guide, encourage, comfort and soothe, correct, and cherish and love each of them for the uniquely wonderful human beings they are. The love, or sometimes lack thereof, a mother provides is one of the most influential parts of children’s development. I regret many things, but I have tried to learn and do better. I want to show my children that life can be difficult, and we can overcome and be better.

Family, Love, Mother, Daughter
Woman hugging her mother

While it is common to be upset and even depressed with loss and or other difficult situations, it is important for mothers to take care of their own mental health for their own sake as well as to help reduce the negative impact it may have on their children. Some things that can help foster good family mental health include:

  • Regular involvement in activities that bring about positive emotions.
  • Maintaining a balanced, healthy diet.
  • Prioritizing developmentally appropriate sleep hygiene.
  • Seeking support from care providers as needed.
  • Using social support and participating in extracurricular activities that promote the development of positive peer relationships.
  • Caregivers remaining in contact with other care providers.
Women, Girlfriends, Nature, Walk, Friendship, Together
Three women walking holding hands

Having all three of my children here for dinner along with my parents, was the best Mother’s Day gift. While my daughter and my 23-year-old son live here, my 21-year-old son lives in an apartment while attending college. This is the first year he will not be coming “home” for the summer, and this momma is not prepared. As happy as I am that he is independent and self-sufficient enough to live on his own, I have sometimes wished he needed me a little more. I try to remember that this is typical for a young adult, but it’s not always easy to realize I have done my job of raising my kids to be the adults I always hoped they would become. Fortunately, my job as their mother will continue as they navigate life. It seems as though it was just yesterday that I brought them home from the hospital and watched them sleep. Now, one is a college graduate and working, one is a junior in college working part-time, and one is working a first part-time job while finishing junior year of high school and deciding what college to attend next fall. How is it possible that my babies are almost all grown up?

Mother, Son, People, Family, Hug, Portrait
Woman hugging her son

A few years ago I wrote a blog, “Mindful Parenting: Enjoy Every Moment.” I wrote about how fast time goes and why it’s important that we are present for our kids. As I re-read it preparing for this blog, I started to tear up at how fast time has passed. I often tell parents of young children to enjoy EVERY SINGLE MOMENT because time will pass fast! It’s important to enjoy even the tough and trying stages of their child’s development and not wish those moments away because one day they might be wishing their child would call or come home to visit. If you are wondering how to get started with mindful practices, my colleague wrote this blog about apps you can use. I hope you will take time to be present in all of your interactions, because one day you realize it was the little things that were the big things.

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

Reviewed by Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Lucas County

Sources:

Dryden, J. (2016, January 13). Mom’s love good for Child’s brain. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from https://source.wustl.edu/2012/01/moms-love-good-for-childs-brain/

Pugle, M. (2020, July 6). Children of Mothers with Depression More Likely to Develop Depression Themselves. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/children-of-mothers-with-depression-more-likely-to-develop-depression-themselves

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Daughter and Mother Living with Dementia

Do you ever forget where you’ve placed your remote, or just can’t recall the name of acquaintance? When this occurs, do you wonder if you are starting to develop dementia? It’s common to become somewhat more forgetful as you age. The question is, how you can tell whether your memory lapses are part of normal aging or are a symptom of something more serious.

If you are in your 40’s, 50’s or 60’s, you may have noticed that you might need a bit longer to remember things, get distracted more easily or struggle to multi-task as well as you once did. You may worry that these are an early sign of dementia, it is important not to worry too much. While these changes are frustrating at times, they are a part of normal aging.  

By contrast, people with dementia have a loss of memory and other mental function severe enough that it affects their ability to live independently at home, interact is social activities and at work. While some memory loss, such as recall and recognition, is the result of the aging brain, dementia is some type of injury to the brain that goes beyond normal changes. For a variety of reasons, once-healthy neurons (nerve cells) in the brain stop working, lose connections with other brain cells, and die.

Dementia can cause a significant decline in a person’s mental abilities by affecting their capacity for things like memory, thinking and reasoning.

Although people in the earliest stages of dementia often sense the something is wrong, the illness eventually deprives them of the insight necessary to understand their problems. So it’s usually up to a family member or friend to recognize the symptoms. The Alzheimer’s Association,  Know the 10 Signs brochure highlights a list of 10 signs that should not be ignored.

  1. Memory loss that is severe enough to disrupt daily life-for example, asking for information over and over again.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems, such as trouble following a recipe or keeping track of monthly bills.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure-for example, trouble driving to a familiar location.
  4. Confusion over time or place.
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, including difficulty judging distances and determining color.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing, including difficulty following or joining a conversation.
  7. Putting things in unusual places and being unable to find them again.
  8. Decreased or poor judgement-for example, giving large amounts of money to telemarketers or paying less attention to personal hygiene.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities.
  10. Changes in mood and personality, including becoming suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious.

If after reading this list you are worried about yourself or someone close to you, arrange for a medical evaluation. Making a diagnosis of dementia requires a thorough examination by a physician. Many forms of dementia are not reversible, but early detection provides an opportunity to minimize other medical conditions that may bring on severe dementia symptoms earlier than they might otherwise show.

If you would like to learn more about your memory, please join us at 10a.m. on Wednesdays in May for the Virtual Master of Memory. These four sessions will be offered online. Sessions will include information on memory strategies, nutrition, medications, medical conditions, and exercise for the body and mind.

Sessions are free – but registration is required. You may register here: https://go.osu.edu/masterofmemory

Written by: Kathy Tutt, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension-Clark County, tutt.19@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Roseanne Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension-Darke County, scammahorn.5@osu.edu

Sources:

Alzheimer’s Association, https://www.alz.org/

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Dementia-Information-Page

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