The Science of Parenting

Accentuate the Positive | S. 2 Ep. 3

June 25, 2020 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Season 2 Episode 3
The Science of Parenting
Accentuate the Positive | S. 2 Ep. 3
Show Notes Transcript

Do you know your strengths as a parent? Check out our 12 characteristics to discover your parenting strengths, then learn how to make a plan for utilizing them. 

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Send us an email: parenting@iastate.edu.
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This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext

Mackenzie Johnson:

Hey, welcome to The Science of Parenting podcast, where we connect you with research based information that fits your family. We'll talk about the realities of being a parent and how research can help guide our parenting decisions. I'm Mackenzie Johnson and parent of two littles with their own quirks. And I'm a parenting educator.

Lori Hayungs:

And I'm Lori Hayungs and I have three children, all in different life stages. One is launched. One is in college and one is in high school and I'm also a parenting educator. And today we are going to talk about seeing our strengths as well as the strengths of our children. And we are going to look at how we can celebrate those strengths.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And as we think about, you know , this kind of theme we're going with on season two of finding joy and taking care of ourselves, it's seeing those strengths. It's kind of like changing our perspective, almost kind of like we talked about, you know, in the episode on stress, like that stress model is about that perception, and so finding those strengths is kind of like a shift in perception.

Lori Hayungs:

Oh, definitely. And I think that finding confidence and support, you know, learning what our strengths are and being confident in them and finding them as supports and ways to help us. So, yeah, let's dive right in. How about it?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Right. Well, I guess before we dive into the research tidbits, I want to ask you, Lori, our strengths. What do you see as one of your parenting strengths?

Lori Hayungs:

So diving right in because Lori has got to confess that she has to think about her own strengths.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Stop and feel before we dive in.

Lori Hayungs:

Okay. I knew that , strengths. I know, I think that a strength that I have as a parent is being able to see things from my child's perspective, whatever age it was that they were or are, and, or all of the above. I feel like I am able to take their perspective. I think that's a strength. How about you?

Mackenzie Johnson:

I would say one of my parenting strengths is actually the ability to kind of reflect after the fact and maybe just the willingness to reflect on how things went and my role in that and those interactions. So I would say kind of the reflection part of that .

Lori Hayungs:

Yes, that's a good word, willingness to reflect. That's a really good word.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And to own. Oh, I maybe didn't do what I hoped. What I did wasn't helpful. So yeah , reflecting might be a strength. So okay, now would you like to dive in, you can dive in here now.

Lori Hayungs:

Okay, now that I've felt. Okay, now let's talk about the research that we know when it comes looking at our strengths. So university researcher and psychologist, Lee Waters, has studied parents and she studied parents who took part in a strengths based training. And what she found was that parents showed gains in both self-efficacy and positive emotions when they were thinking about their children.

Mackenzie Johnson:

That's kind of cool. Yeah. And I think the training, you know, reading that study, the training really focused on what strengths do your kids have? What strengths do you have? And that's honestly kind of a simple thing. It's not this big elaborate learn tons of new skills. What are your strengths? What are kids' strengths? It's kind of simple.

Lori Hayungs:

Yes. Yes. And she was essentially showing that people that took part, she was essentially showing that people who participated in this effort of learning about parenting saw results in their parenting and with their children. And so just like this podcast is you taking part in or putting effort towards your parenting, this helps you possibly see results with your children, just because you're listening to something as simple as a 20 or 30 minute podcast. And, you know, parents are looking for support in their parenting. And so I think that's really important that her study said, hey, guess what? You can find this and you can do it and you can have these results.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And I feel like you're almost identifying another potential strength, like we could have and our listeners could have of like intention, right? Like seeking something and looking for information or ways, new strategies, things might improve like intention, having intention in parenting. That's a parenting strength.

Lori Hayungs:

That's totally a strength. Everyone out there right now listening, you have the strength of intention. Thank you.

Mackenzie Johnson:

You know, in that study, initially when I was reading through it, I honestly thought, oh, this is cool. It was all about parents finding their own strengths. And then I was like, oh, and kids, and seeing the strengths that our kids have. That's an important part of, I bet, why this was successful. And so it was , you know, we have to talk about our strengths. What might you say are strengths from your kids? We know there's a back and forth and a give and take in that relationship. It's not all one sided in parenting. So what might you say is the strength of your kids?

Lori Hayungs:

So I have three children, but I would say that they all kind of exhibit the strength of having a positive attitude. I think that they all three exhibit that idea of the glass is half full. We can find a way to look at this struggle or situation and be positive in some way, shape or form about it. All three of them have that. How about you?

Mackenzie Johnson:

I might say that my oldest, she's three right now , I would say she has the strength of initiative. And I've talked about it before. I really thought about, the words came to mind, were like having a plan or being strong-willed, or I was but specifically as a strength. Those words aren't necessarily negative. But as a strength she has initiative, like she knows what she wants. So , I would say that's a strength and sometimes I might view that negatively, right. As I think about gaining cooperation in the middle of getting dressed or whatever but her plan , but a strength is that she has initiative. That's a strength. And then I would say for my littlest that he's flexible. Like he's a flexible, he's easy going , that's a strength.

Lori Hayungs:

That's great. That's definitely a strength.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So what part of understanding this idea of strengths? There's another term that we actually heard in that last tidbit, right. So it talked about that study found that finding those strengths, seeing those strengths, celebrating them, one of the outcomes of that was increased self efficacy, which is like sure, of course, that. So let's take a second to define.

Lori Hayungs:

What is that?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah. Even if I know I know that, probably, maybe.

Lori Hayungs:

I should know that. Yes. I don't have an elevator speech for it though yet.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So let's look at that one a little bit more. So Bandura is really who's credited with kind of that broader term of self efficacy. And so there's a whole other thing, you know, across different realms there. But if we dive in specifically to parenting self efficacy, a 2005 study defined it by saying, it's the belief or judgment a parent holds of their own capabilities to organize and execute a set of tasks related to parenting. So again, it's the belief or the judgment that we hold of our own abilities to parent. So not just that you have strengths, that you believe in them and that you can use them.

Lori Hayungs:

That head talk. Yes. So essentially there is a second part though, right? So that second part is how we organize and execute those sets of tasks essentially related to parenting or knowing our strengths is part one. But part two is understanding and having confidence in utilizing those tasks when it comes to parenting, right?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah. And the strengths with our kids, right. Knowing what our kids' strengths are and knowing how to utilize those, right. Knowing how to, I don't want us to say capitalize, that almost has a negative connotation, but how do we use those strengths to improve them and continue to build those strengths over time so that they continue into adulthood. Even though sometimes I might find my daughter's initiative challenging, I don't want to stomp, you know, stomp that out. I want that initiative to be carried into adulthood for her. And so being able to utilize one, see the strength and then utilize it and so that belief in my ability to do so. Seeing it, believing it, celebrating it, all the things.

Lori Hayungs:

Sounds like a circle to me.

Mackenzie Johnson:

It kind of is, Lori. Skipping ahead, don't cheat.

Lori Hayungs:

So, okay. So part one is knowing strengths to say, so I said, my children's strengths were positive attitudes, seeing things , you know, from that positive perspective. I know that about them. I have confidence and belief in my strength, which is seeing other people's perspective. And so if I take that and say, okay , so , you know, last time we talked about the fact that my children have had the struggle of having to go through divorce in the family and that my commitment is to have positive co-parenting, right? So I know that my strength is being able to see their perspective, their strength is having a positive attitude, taking that struggle into this saying, okay, how can we all see other people's perspectives and take it from the positive point of view of, we can find a way to not only live in two different houses positively, but we can find joy in living in two different houses and being with two sets of families. And so I think that this model, Bandura's model of self-efficacy basically says, I believe it, and I can make it happen. And because I can make it happen, they believe it and their strengths grow and our strengths grow. Am I on target?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. And if you've ever taken one of our workshops that we offer face to face around the state , the family life team on The Science of Parenting, we talk about this model of using these words, or if you followed our blog, like active, effective, attentive, you know, different ways of looking at parenting, and one of them is being effective. Right? Getting the outcome that we hope. And so self-efficacy is really the belief that you can do that. I believe I have the knowledge and the strength and the expertise on my kids to use my strengths and theirs that we can go in the direction that we hope in parenting. So yeah, I would say it . So how do I do that? I said that nice though. Right? It sounded nice now I got to own it. So I think I would say using my strength of like reflecting on my parenting and like how interactions have gone and what I could do better next time, as well as my daughter in particular, that initiative that she has, I would say one of the ways that we utilize that, and that helps me feel a little more confident, is giving her a chance to like make her own plan. And so actually one of the most frequently set examples in my house is, what's going to be your plan for cleaning up. Okay . So you have dumped this out or you want to get out this and this and this and this and this and this. Tell me about , what's your plan going to be for picking that up? And she might say she needs 10 minutes. She might say after supper, she might say , and so I try to go with it. It doesn't always work, but I try to go with what her plan is. And so that might be one way where we're kind of utilizing both of our strengths, okay , if I just say this has to be the plan, I might be met with resistance. And so she's got initiative, like you can make a plan.

Lori Hayungs:

Excellent. Yes. So now the confidence that you're instilling in her, that strength. Yeah.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Two for one there.

Lori Hayungs:

Win, win. That's what we're looking for. Right.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So now I want you to bring it all the way, like all the way around the circle. There's a full circle here around competence, self -efficacy, seeing strengths and Lori's got the next piece of the puzzle.

Lori Hayungs:

So yes, let's come full circle here. We talked a little bit that we were going to be in a circle. So Lee Waters' research further reports that parents' positive emotions could help them notice a wider range of strengths in themselves, as well as their children. And to actually think of a greater number of ways to utilize those strengths.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Ah, that really is full circle, right? So we identify strengths in ourselves, in our kids, which makes us feel a little more effective and a little more confident in how to use those strengths, which makes us have more positive emotions and find more joy, which makes it easier to identify our strengths. Like that circle goes round and round and in a positive direction. It does, yeah. So finding the strengths, feeling effective, knowing how to use them, feeling better. Yeah. And we can keep going. Yeah. This is a good circle circle.

Lori Hayungs:

This is a good circle. So is there a way that we can take this circle and fill up our toolbox for parents.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. So kind of moving into you know, we always like to come around with a strategy. We share the research and some of our reality. And so our kind of strategy, we talk about in terms of your reality. So how do we get in on this good circle? And so we think a great place to start is by starting with identifying your own strengths. There's lots of tools out there, you know, that exists that you can go online and find one that kind of would get specific, but we want it to look at one that's from the research. It's called the keys to interactive parenting scale or the KIPS. And so they use this in research to kind of identify parenting strengths and effective strategies. And so what we want to do, it's kind of a long list. It's 12 and we were like 12, we're never going to do all 12, 12's a lot. But I think it's important to hear all 12. So you can hear the ones that resonate with you as a listener. So what we're going to do is we're going to read all 12 kind of slowly to give you time to take it in and think, yep . You know what? I got that. Right. And it's not that we're going to hear all 12 on the list and go, yes, yes, yes. Not the expectation, but we hope you'll hear one that you're, you know what? I am good at that and I use that in my parenting. So Lori, do you want to kick us off by reading through a few here?

Lori Hayungs:

I do. And I'm going to read it off as if I was reading this list to and for myself so that I could recognize where I have strengths. So this is how I'm going to read it. Do I have sensitivity to responses? Do I support emotions? Do I have physical interaction with my children? Do I have involvement in my child's activities? Do I have language experiences with my child? And am I open to my child's agenda? So that was six. And I'm going to stop at that one right there. Because I, as I was reading through the list , believe that I had this strength of being open to my child's agenda. All three of them, all the time I felt, and maybe it was cause sometimes they had way more fun ideas than I did. And I had this tendency to sometimes be way too serious. And so, gosh, I was an early childhood mom. I felt like I needed to have some fun spontaneous action in our household. And that came from them. So I believe that my strength in this list of 12, I have many of them, but this one particular resonated with me, open to my child's agenda. You take the last six.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I'll say, I'm glad to hear you like own that. Owning it . I am good at this. And I think sometimes we're too modest to say that I'm good at this. This is a strength of mine. Okay. I'll work on the second half. All right . So , do I adapt my strategies to my child? Right? Each child is different. Do I use limits and consequences well? Do I give supportive directions? Do I offer encouragement? Do I promote exploration and curiosity? Do I have reasonable expectations? And I'll actually say, I think I have that last one. I think I tend to have pretty reasonable expectations most of the time of my kids. So I'm going to own that. I have reasonable expectations.

Lori Hayungs:

I love it. And I love that you say that out loud because hearing me say it out loud about me, I was, can I say that out loud? Am I allowed to say that out loud? But you're totally right. We can own that we have these strengths. We can, we may. And we give you permission to own these strengths, own them. Oh yeah. So we each have all these different strengths in parenting, different from our friends, different from our co-parent and even different from our parents. And we need to know those strengths and use them to make a plan. Right. Capitalize. I don't think that's, I don't think that's negative. Tap into those strengths. Use them to have win-win situations. So I think we're ready to bring in our producer, Kenzie, for our Stop, Breathe, Talk. moment.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I'm not gonna lie. I was so focused on the other research bullets I kind of forgot she was going to come ask us another question. Okay. I'm ready.

Lori Hayungs:

Yes. So we bring our producer Mackenzie in at this point in time and she gives us kind of this moment to stop and breathe and talk about things. So we have no idea that she's going to pull out of the hat. So something related to today, oftentimes we try to give her questions that she'll ask us and she refuses. So what do you got for us today?

Mackenzie DeJong:

Good question.

Lori Hayungs:

Oh no.

Mackenzie DeJong:

So if you've been listening to our podcast, you know that sometimes I get on and say, I'm not really sure what to ask. I'm not totally confident about this question. And it might just be more of a lighthearted , silly question, but sometimes you need that. Right. So, alright . In your opinion, what's harder to gain physical strengths or parenting strengths or what's harder to grow? What's harder to develop? Is your physical like exercise or your parenting strengths?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, I know Lori's perspective.

Lori Hayungs:

That's a hard question. Golly.

Mackenzie Johnson:

You broke us.

Mackenzie DeJong:

And it was a question that I was like, I don't know about this question.

Lori Hayungs:

Here's the real truth. I do teach an exercise class. But I am very open to why I teach an exercise class. Because this girl has no self discipline to go exercise on her own. So if I have a class that is scheduled at five o'clock on Wednesdays, I've got to show up because there's going to be people that are waiting for me because if it was up to me at five o'clock on Wednesdays, I'd be hanging out on my couch. So parenting strength, you know what, it's personal, it's personal. And it also, I think it's personal, it's situational. It is dependent on the ages of your children, on the support you have from family members, friends in your community. And so there is not one right answer. And that's my story. And I'm sticking to it.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Okay. We've said before, like when we're prepping for an episode, it's okay if just one of us answer. Oh Lori , you said it so eloquently. I really think you covered it. Is that cheating?

Lori Hayungs:

I despise push-ups and despise pull-ups. Parenting strength is easier.

Mackenzie DeJong:

And you know, I'm going to say that as you were talking, as I'm thinking through this, I really am not an exercise kind of person. Some people are yeah, I love running. That ain't me. But also sitting down to like really develop my strengths and think things through and then reflect on that. Mackenzie has said she's a good reflector. I'm not good, I'm not always the best reflector. Sometimes when I get done with something, I want to shut it off and like move on to the next thing. So sometimes, I might not mean my parenting strength , maybe my aunting strengths, but like that takes a lot of practice and discipline, too . So I don't know, I was just kinda comparing the discipline of it and comparing the mental.

Lori Hayungs:

Parenting is not easy.

Mackenzie Johnson:

But I think that would be the point I would make. If I'm going to say anything, I would say I could see some similarities. Right? It requires discipline. It requires thought. It requires planning. That's the answer. My answer. Not the answer.

Lori Hayungs:

I think I hear your telephone ringing, Kenzie.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, bye!

Mackenzie DeJong:

Gotta go. Bye!

Lori Hayungs:

She broke us.

Mackenzie Johnson:

That has to be the most caught off guard I've been from one of those.

Lori Hayungs:

She did it. Winner winner chicken dinner.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah. She got us. So walking through what the episode on seeing our parenting strengths and as Mackenzie reminded us, similar to some of our other strengths. So we talked about the benefit of the simple act of recognizing the strengths in ourselves and in our kids really can bring positive outcomes. And so taking the time to recognize those strengths can build our confidence in ourselves and our knowledge on how to utilize those strengths in our parenting, which again, full circle helps us find that joy, helps us experience those positive emotions. And so one way you can kind of take care of yourself and your family is by thinking about those strengths and identifying them.

Lori Hayungs:

And as we listed and listened to each other list off those 12 strengths, you know what I feel? I feel joy. I hope you feel joy. I feel joy. And I think that, you know, saying out loud, I have this strength is really important. And maybe that's my challenge to everyone is every day, either before you go to sleep or before you get out of bed in the morning, just say out loud what strength you have when it comes to parenting.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. And I feel good about the recognition taking the time to think like, these are strengths my kids have too. I sometimes might see them negatively in the heat of a moment, but these are strengths that I want them to have when they become adults.

Lori Hayungs:

Yes. So thank you for joining us today on The Science of Parenting. We are grateful that you are here. We are grateful for the questions that you send us during the week. You can always find us on podcasts weekly through Apple or Spotify or your favorite podcast app. You can also find us on Facebook and once a month, be sure to join us live, ask us questions there as we hopefully don't get stumped again from our producer.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Hopefully that was the only time. Yeah. But please , please come along with us as we tackle the ins and outs, the ups and downs and the research and reality all around The Science of Parenting.

Anthony Santiago:

The Science of Parenting is a research based education program hosted by Lori Hayungs and Mackenzie Johnson, produced by Mackenzie DeJong, with research and writing by Barbara Dunn Swanson. Send in questions and comments to parenting@iastate.edu and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. This program is brought to you by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext