The Science of Parenting

Persistence: Celebrate it! | S. 3 Ep. 4

August 27, 2020 Season 3 Episode 4
The Science of Parenting
Persistence: Celebrate it! | S. 3 Ep. 4
Show Notes Transcript

Have a child that gets super-focused and frustrated when asked to switch tasks and loves to “do it myself?” Learn how to support and embrace their persistence (and maybe even quiet your own frustration).

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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, parent of two littles with their own quirks, and I'm a parenting educator.

Lori Hayungs:

And I'm Lori Hayungs, parent of three in three life stages, launched, in college, and in high school. And I am a parenting educator and we have officially launched season three. Here we are. And this entire season we are talking about temperament and how it impacts your parenting. Yes . Quick reminder about temperament and what it is and what it isn't before we start. So temperament is our predisposition to how we react. It's inborn, it's genetic, it's with us from the very beginning of life. And it's essentially our behavior that goes way, way back. How is it different from personality you might be wondering? Well, temperament is that foundation and then personality builds on top of temperament. So personality emerges as we grow, as we encounter others in our environment, our life experiences, but temperament, it's kind of always been there from the beginning.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. I love that word foundation after we like clung to it. And I think that was in our first episode of season three, I'm still hanging onto it, our foundation. So this week kicks off our third trait and kind of our deep dive into the third of nine different temperament traits. And I remember how we talked about that temperament research is based off of Thomas and Chess as well as Jim Cameron and his colleagues at Kaiser Permanente and them tracking thousands of kids and temperament traits over 30 plus years. And what they gathered was this idea that all of us have these nine same traits. It's just a matter of figuring out how much of them we got. So did we get a lot or did we get a little, and if you need a quick refresher on those traits and a little more information on them and where you can find out about your child's temperament, you can check that out on our website scienceofparenting.org for those temperament resources. But for now let's get started talking about persistence. I won't say this one is my favorite one, because I know I might say that every week, if I'm not careful, but I really like this one, too.

Lori Hayungs:

Yes, you know, and as we think about persistence and a definition, I mean, do we really need a definition? We can all see someone in our head right now. And it might actually be us we see in our head when the word persistence flashes up on the screen, right? The temperament philosophy theory educators that we are basing our temperament series on are Stella, Chess and Alexander Thomas. And they define persistence as that ability to stop doing something when asked instead of fighting to continue. So Jim Cameron and his work at Kaiser Permanente, they talked a lot about it in terms of what is our frustration. So how tolerant are we to being frustrated to ask about being stopped to do something. And so, as we talk about this today, that's what I want you to think of in terms of persistence, being told to stop doing something. And how frustrated does that make you?

Mackenzie Johnson:

No, thanks. Don't ask me to stop. No, thanks.

Lori Hayungs:

I love that. So we looked through our parenting resources and the temperament gurus that we'll be talking about. I love what Mary Sheedy Kurcinka says in her book, Raising Your Spirited Child. And she explains that this trait in particular is a key trait when it comes to understanding that parent child power struggle.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And I've actually been listening to the book on an audio book. And so I've been listening to that. And Mary Sheedy Kurcinka really does encourage us to kind of reframe how we look at certain behaviors from our perspective and maybe behaviors you might consider annoying or difficult or bothersome, and to look at those characteristics instead from a strength based perspective. So we want to remove that negative label of how we're talking about it and just removing the label and how we think about it can actually reduce the struggle. Right. Instead of thinking my child is being difficult, thinking this is really important to them, right. That can change the power struggle. And so how we tend to talk about all these traits and persistence in particular is important. So she also talks about this idea that labels are contagious, that how we talk about our kids can frame how other people will think about them. She has this example about talking with your child's teacher and if we say, yeah, they're stubborn. Or if we say, yeah, that's really important to her, isn't it? And so how we reframe it. So can we talk a little bit more about those labels, particularly related to persistence? Because I think this one sometimes gets a bad rap. Like whether you're highly persistent or low, I feel like it kind of gets a bad name sometimes.

Lori Hayungs:

So I definitely would agree. I would agree. And I think that , so let's play a little word game. How about this?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Alright.

Lori Hayungs:

I'll say a negative word and let's see if you can try to reframe it. How's that sound?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Okay. This is a game, isn't it?

Lori Hayungs:

So stubborn.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Persistent. That's the trait, right? Persistent.

Lori Hayungs:

Yep. How about lazy? If someone is not persistent.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I would say accepting, they might be willing to accept that outcome easier than maybe someone who is more highly persistent.

Lori Hayungs:

I love that. So let's go with another high persistent word, demanding.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Tenacious.

Lori Hayungs:

I like that. Yes. Tenacious. Less persistent word, unmotivated. Like why don't they just finish a task?

Mackenzie Johnson:

I might say, able to let it go.

Lori Hayungs:

Oh, excellent.

Mackenzie Johnson:

They're like , yeah, this isn't a thing that I absolutely have to do. I can let that go.

Lori Hayungs:

I can let that go. Yes. Oh, I love those . Okay. Thanks.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And those words really matter, right? The way that we talk about our kids and whether we're using some of those more positive words or some of those maybe words that don't have as positive of a connotation, it matters and how we talk about them. And honestly, it can change how we think about them, right? The way that I view what they're doing and how they approach things. And that can honestly change too depending on the age and the situation. Right?

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly. Exactly. So an infant, for instance, that's high in persistent. It may help them learn to walk or crawl or drink from a cup sooner. And we might think, great. And then as a preschooler with high persistence, you know, it just might make us feel like we have to pull our hair out when they won't let us help them put their shoes on. Right. They're insistent. They are going to put their shoes on.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So in an infant that treat feels like, yes, this is helping them do what I want. But in preschool, that same trait is suddenly, this i s making my life difficult. True on the other end, too. Right?

Lori Hayungs:

Absolutely. A less persistent child, you know, we may have a hard time when we, as a parent think they're not meeting those , those milestones. Oh gosh. Think about all of the parents who say, Oh , how old is your child? Oh, do they walk yet? Oh no. How old is your child? Are they riding a bike yet? No . You know, how old is your child? Oh, did they get their school permit ?

Mackenzie Johnson:

No, that wasn't high on their list.

Lori Hayungs:

Right. That's exactly it. It wasn't high on their list and that's okay. Yeah . And so we as parents have to recognize that, you know, some of these developmental milestones are tied into temperament and rather than shaming ourselves or letting others shame us, we just have to recognize that all children are unique. They all have gifts that are different from other children.

Mackenzie Johnson:

The way we understand them and value them can vary in different situations. You know, you use those terms, assets and liabilities, that same trait might be an asset here and a liability here, you know, the way that might be the way we view it. But I feel like we're kind of tiptoeing into our next tidbit, which is kind of about this continuum. Tell us more about that.

Lori Hayungs:

Yes . So now that we know what persistence is, then remember we've been looking at temperament traits based on this continuum of how much did they get. We all get part of this trait. Did we get a little or did we get a lot? And so let's look again at Mary's book when we think about persistence. And so talking about the child who has a high amount of persistence, meaning they get very frustrated when someone tells them no. Okay . When they are asked to switch tasks, they may not tolerate those interruptions easily and they want to finish what they're doing. They may get stuck or locked in until they solve a problem. And I mean, in fact, actually they can be very goal oriented. So did you see me just flip that label? You know , and when you think about it, it's highly probable that inventors that you think about like maybe Alexander Graham Bell or George Washington Carver. They might've been highly persistent to create their new inventions. And honestly, highly persistent children are not a fan of limits.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And I am highly persistent, so I can relate to that. Yeah, don't tell me I can't, or don't tell me. Right? Those are not things that I like and that I maybe would naturally not positively respond to. So when we think about our kids, right. So thinking about that high end of the continuum, when they're persistent with a task, you know, maybe that's an opportunity, right? We flipped our positive label . Like this is something that's really important to them, or they're really tenacious. Or man, they are just really working hard, want to see it to the finish. Traits that, yeah, when we think about those inventors, we see positivity. And then when we think about challenging moments, we may think of persistence with a different filter.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly.

Mackenzie Johnson:

But we know that kids are learning, you know, their independence and their autonomy and persistence is really a place that we're going to see that play out. And so sometimes it's a challenge for us as parents to accept that persistence, especially if maybe you feel like you're in a hurry, you're like, I don't have time for you to struggle with this right now. Just let me help you. And so that high persistence can be a challenge, but it really is, right? That it can be a positive trait in adulthood and something we value there.

Lori Hayungs:

Oh, 100 percent. And when you think about, you know, it being a power struggle between the adult and the child, you know, why is that a power struggle? Because of the limit placed on whatever action it is.

Mackenzie Johnson:

We don't have enough time. My limit is we don't have enough time for this, or, you know , that might be an example. Okay. So that might be the highly persistent end . What about maybe if you have a little of the trait, so if you're less persistent or your child is.

Lori Hayungs:

Sure. So if we move to the other end of the continuum and consider that, you know, a less persistent temperament might be less frustrated when it comes to limit setting, they may be more patient with limits and it actually might be more okay to interrupt them. And so if we think about infants and toddlers, they may be more easily redirected.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Or the child that when you say, alright , time for dinner, it might be easier for them to walk away from the thing they're working on. Right.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly. Exactly.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So, all right , we're talking about infants and toddlers. Let's walk all the way through. I like when we do this, when you kind of break down at the different ages, so kind of a developmental task from infancy through examples with teens, how we might see this trait play out with a common thing. So let's go with that infant and toddler, you said they might be more easily redirectable if they're on the low end. What might be kind of a thing you might see play out with persistence in infant and toddlerhood.

Lori Hayungs:

So think about what's their kind of goal. What are they really focusing right then and there in their world, and essentially what infants and toddlers are doing. Just look at the infants for a little bit here. So, you know, like zero to 18 months or so. Their whole being honestly is about exploring their world. So the persistent child exploring their world, what do they look like? And I envision, you know, I envision my infant sitting in her high chair and there being just enough milk on the high chair and, you know, she's old enough to be eating Cheerios. And the persistent infant is trying to catch that Cheerio with her tiny fingers, hunting it down. Right. And she's, you know, maybe getting more and more frustrated cause that Cheerio keeps slipping through that milk, right? With the less persistent child , the infant , you know, they're exploring their world. The less persistent child, you know, they're easily distracted. So as they're crawling over toward the light socket, you might just be able to literally pick them up and turn them around the other way and they're going to go explore something different. Yes.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, that's an example right now in our house in infancy, like how easy is it to redirect you from the stairs right now? We're climbing stairs with my littlest. And how easy is it to redirect you from that? Yes.

Lori Hayungs:

Yeah. And so then let's think about the toddler. So the toddler is a child up to the age of three. What are they doing in their life? They're really working on becoming more independent. And, you know, I envisioned the child who's pulling up their zipper, you know, of their coat and the persistent child is going to just keep focusing on that coat. You know, there could be many things happening around them , but right now they're so focused on getting that zipper up on their coat. And like you said, we're in a hurry. We got to go. So our reaction might be, let me just zip the coat . Right. And so the less persistent child, they might be more willing to accept help. And so how do we, you know, how do we help that persistent child move on when we recognize developmentally their little fingers can't quite get that zipper started. Okay, one little tip I want to give right here just because I can, is the most important phrase you can do is, let me start it. So you start the zipper and the persistent child finishes it.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Okay. Sneak.

Lori Hayungs:

Let me start it . Let me start it. Yes, you get to zip the zipper. There it goes. All right .

Mackenzie Johnson:

So right on point. What about if we keep moving up? So moving on to maybe like our school age kids.

Lori Hayungs:

Okay. So our school aged children, they're working on mastering difficult tasks. They're mastering responsibility, not mastering, they're working on developing responsibility. You know, they're increasing their independence. And so as you think about the more persistent child, you might look at them, you know, let's say they're fixing their bicycle and they just are going to get this fixed. So they're going to get it fixed. But you're saying it's time for us to eat dinner. It's time for us to go, whatever. You just set a limit on their ability to finish that fixing of the bicycle. And so that bicycle is increasing their independence. And so being frustrated with that might be really, you know , really important as far as developmentally for them to finish. The less persistent elementary school age, again, increasing their independence, but they might say, well, you know, it's okay. I can finish this later. It might just not that important for them to finish it right this minute.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Or maybe they never get back to it. Yeah. Right. Like if it's low persistence, like maybe don't around to it for quite a while to kind of accept okay, I didn't get this done. I'll catch it later.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly. Accepting . And I think if we move up the age continuum, we can also say that the middle school preteen teenager, they're also experimenting with different values and experimenting with their friend's values versus their family's values. And they're beginning to establish their own identity. And so what does that look like? Well, they might make different choices than you. And how does their persistence, a highly persistent child is all about their choice and the less persistent child might not argue with you about other choices, their friend's choice . So, you know, temperament plays a huge piece in those developmental milestones.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. We see that play out and across the gamut there , like all the way through, persistence is there. Not negative, not positive, no good or bad, just it's there, it's there. And this is their temperament and we're not changing it. We're figuring it out.

Lori Hayungs:

We are.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So thinking about your temperament or my temperament or kids' temperament, where does your family kind of land ?

Lori Hayungs:

So I am more persistent than I am less persistent. I would say that I'm not quite as persistent as you. And I would say that my three children , two of them are less persistent than me and one of them, you know, actually I don't know that any of them is more persistent than me, but they each have their own level of persistence and they're all three less persistent than me, I would say.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Okay. All right . Well, in my family, I do have the highest persistence. My co-parent is still persistent, but kind of in like the milder range, I'm on the more extreme range of persistent. And then actually both of my kids are kind of right in that kind of variable middle that could maybe go either way. So that's interesting, you know, that we're both kind of the extreme in our case.

Lori Hayungs:

So yes , okay, so I'm not gonna tell this story. I'm gonna save this story, but that brings us right into our next research topic, which is that goodness of fit. Okay. So I'm gonna save my goodness of fit story for next. But remember we talked about that idea of learning to respond to the child's natural temperament and that's, what's what Stella Chess and Alexander Thomas called goodness of fit. So essentially what we're doing is we're learning to understand our child's natural tendencies. And when we do that, it actually helps us to not blame them or even ourselves. So it honestly helps bring out the best in both of us. And ultimately it might make our job easier as a parent. And I don't know about you, but I'm all about making my parenting easier. And the reason for that is because it can actually help us prevent behavior problems. So look at your persistence, look at your children. And as you look across them, you might not be surprised at times when some are similar to yours cause remember it is genetic, and you might not be surprised if they're different. So as you look across there are times where you may have clashed with your child's temperament when it comes to persistence.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I think I might say that my own high persistence sometimes gets me like that. I'm creating a , like a power struggle maybe is the word I want, with my kids because like, Nope , Nope, Nope. Like unwavering in that commitment to whatever it is. And so maybe I'm apt to do that. But there was actually an example when I think about goodness of fit and how we match mismatch with my significant other that we , he had come home for lunch and I was here and I was working on something and he was, Oh, are you gonna come eat lunch? And I was yeah, okay, I need 10 minutes. Okay. 10ish minutes. And I'm working on, I'm working on it. And then it's like 30 minutes later. He's okay, like I thought it was going to be about 10 minutes. I was okay. I'm like, I'll finish this part. And long story short, it was three hours later and I still hadn't eaten lunch because I was working. I just needed to do what I was doing. And , it's a good thing that he didn't wait for me to eat lunch but I was committed to what I was doing. And so our persistence sometimes, you know, he's a little, you know, like mild but less than me. And so understanding how those fit together and how those might impact what our behavior patterns might be and our understanding of each other, okay, he may be more understanding. This is just who Mackenzie is and what she's doing.

Lori Hayungs:

So exactly. And I love that you said, it might be actually me that creates the power struggle because honestly it's about that persistence, that higher persistence can actually maybe ignite the power struggle between you and the child, regardless of who's got the intense temperament. It's that persistence piece that ignites it. And remember that no trait is good or bad in and of itself. It's that, where can we find its gifts. Learning to understand how it works alongside our child is what becomes a central focus. And the story I was g oing t o share is that, you know, sometimes with my higher persistence trait t han my c hildren's, I can sometimes feel myself maybe judging. Why don't they take this, in my eyes, as seriously? Why don't they want to finish this task as much as I want them to finish this task? And, you know, it's almost me in my head having this shaming of my c hild's lack of desire to finish the task. And that is in no way shape or form what I mean. I think about that level of persistence. And you know, when we talk about flipping the labels, I often will also say about my middle child, how she is able to just let things go. That's her persistence. And I think, Oh, if only I could at times be like her in terms of just letting it go. And so there is that piece where yes, it is the power struggle between the parent and the child, but which way is it?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Well, and Mackenzie , our producer talked, you know, she was talking about how she has kind of a low persistence as we were getting ready for this episode. And that sometimes she can perceive people with high persistence as just get over it, right? Just let it go. So there are challenges and yeah , assets and liabilities on both ends. And so as we think about our kids and where they land in this mix of a little, or a lot of their persistence and how we perceive those behaviors and how we accept how that affects them, working towards independence. You know, we know at a lot of ages that work towards independence and autonomy can be challenging in itself and persistence is gonna play out in how that develops. So that child who isn't putting something away, it's because they are passionate and zealous and committed. And maybe that child that it's maybe easier to let go of, or they don't want to push through on that tough assignment. you know, we can recognize that, you know what, they recognize that they could use a break and so those are good things in our kids.

Lori Hayungs:

Many times in my past work with temperament, I've had parents say that the homework battles are a huge power struggle. And in terms of persistence, especially if the parent has more persistence than the child, the parent is saying, well , just finish it. You only have three problems. Why is it taking you, you know, three hours, it's only three problems. And the less persistent child is saying, you know, can I just do one and take a break? And then can I come back and do another and take a break, and being able to see from their perspective of being less persistent. I mean, as the adult we're going well, yeah, but. And I go, huh ? Yeah , but. It's going to take you three hours of fighting and power struggling, or it can take you three hours with breaks in between of some great conversations, some time together doing whatever, instead of arguing for three hours about homework.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Okay. In that example, I'm so ready to tell you the next part. So like in your reality section, you know , of our podcasts kind of towards the end here, we like to talk about some strategies. So we've heard all of this information about persistence, understanding what it is, how it looks different on the extreme ends of the spectrum are the continuum, and then learned about that goodness of fit. So understanding our temperament and how it maybe works , and gives us challenges and opportunities with our child . And so the thing I want to say as a strategy, so in this third season, we kind of have been tossing back and forth on this here reality thing. Like you have some ideas and I've got some ideas, but you talking about this three hour homework struggle, and it could look like this, or it could look like this. The thing that I hear different is accepting your child's temperament, accepting if their persistence is low. Yes. Maybe you worry like, Oh, can they do the tough things that they're going to need to do? Or if their persistence is high, you know, are we going to survive? You know, this day with another meltdown over this , because of the limit that I set . But instead of saying why can't this be different?Understanding this is their persistence level. And there's going to be times when we love that, and times when that's hard, but accepting that it's not them choosing to be difficult. Like they're not being mean to you.

Lori Hayungs:

They're not defined by not finishing three problems, right this minute.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes.

Lori Hayungs:

It is the difference between their persistence and yours. And it's hard. It is hard. Yes. As the adults, we can see visually the time difference and we are taking off three hours, but with the child, it's a child who is not ready to , you know, move on to that task. Gosh. Anyway. Okay. So strategy.

Mackenzie Johnson:

The strategy. The first one I want to talk about is accepting, accepting the temperament as it is, what strategy do you want to toss out?

Lori Hayungs:

Okay. So Mary Sheedy Jurcinka has a great strategy and it's called, finding the yes and essentially think of it this way. So when someone sets a limit on you, what are they telling you?

Mackenzie Johnson:

No, no. Don't tell me no, no. Don't tell me no.

Lori Hayungs:

Like you or I who hears the word no. What is it in our brain?

Mackenzie Johnson:

I'll find a way.

Lori Hayungs:

I'll find a way. You've heard me say I'm here to tell me no. All right. Mary says, we have to find a way to get a yes. And a yes can be as simple as, yes, I understand that. You want to zip up the zipper. Let me start this for you and you can zip up the zipper instead of saying no, it's taking too long. I will zip up the zipper. Yes, I know you want to go outside and play. We need to get the homework finished. So can we negotiate how to finish this instead of no, you're not leaving this table until your homework is finished. And there's a difference in how that sounds. And none of that is a way of saying you as the parent is not in control. It's not really about control. It's honestly about relationship and building positive relationships and negotiating and responsibility and respect. Right. So I'm going to respect the child's temperament and we're going to negotiate how to work towards the gifts of their temperaments.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And I think the other thing about finding that yes, is I think sometimes depending on which end, are we wanting the child. Is the problem that what they want is not what we want. Maybe we want them to do something and their high persistence is like, eh, no thanks. Or they're low persistence is like, eh, no thanks. But if we want them to do something, versus if we want them to stop doing something, and finding a way to find a yes, whichever direction it is.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I'm trying to think of like an older kid example.

Lori Hayungs:

So an example for an older child might be , you cannot not turn in your homework.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. Okay.

Lori Hayungs:

Or a persistent child, you actually cannot go out tonight with these particular friends.

Mackenzie Johnson:

But we can, right? The yes comes, we can spend time with these friends, but we can't go there. Right? Yes. You can spend time with your friends or you can't not turn in homework, but you can take a break. Yeah.

Lori Hayungs:

Yes, exactly, you can take a break. Yes. Yes. You can spend time with those particular friends right here in our own house . And you know, that makes me think of the Treelo example from season one. Yes. You can bring Treelo in, but is it going to be this Treelo or this Treelo? Which one is it, you know, finding a way to make that yes.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And we're still holding the appropriate expectations of our kids, right. We're not saying yes, do whatever you want. We're still holding appropriate expectations. And yes, we can still meet you where you're at, because I think that's the other part of accepting their temperament, finding that way to say yes, because we acknowledge okay, I've accepted your temperament. I acknowledge this might be what you need. Even if it's not maybe what I would need. I acknowledge that this is what you need.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly. Exactly. And along with that acceptance just comes that understanding. Like the child hears that you understand them and you're willing to listen to what they have to say, whether they're less persistent or highly persistent, you're listening to what they have to say.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. Awesome. So we're finding yeses, we're accepting, we're understanding, we're acknowledging. And I think the other a word, which I'll throw another one in there, we're kind of anticipating right. Temperaments, that pattern of behavior. so we've got some great strategies on how we can navigate persistence here.

Lori Hayungs:

We do.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Okay. Awesome. So now that kind of brings us to our Stop. Breathe. Talk. section, where we bring in our producer, Mackenzie DeJong, and she tries to stump us with the question. So Lori and I practice using our favorite parenting technique, where we stop, recognize what's going on, take a breath and then speak with intention. So we're going to practice that in our Stop. Breathe. Talk. section with Mackenzie.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Hello, how's it going?

Mackenzie Johnson:

We're good. If you ask how it's going before you ask us a question, I'm like, I don't know how it's going.

Mackenzie DeJong:

What's going to happen here. It's all good. So, I have to tell you again that you guys are so good. And I don't know if it's a matter of us as a team or , we just kind of are all on the same wave length , but you already kind of talked about what my first question was going to be. Luckily we have Barb Dunn Swanson on call because she is saving the day. This is something as we were preparing, we talked about but you guys didn't really touch on as much during the podcast. So I wanted to bring it up. It is relating to a topic that we've talked about in, I believe in season two, on that shaming and blaming game. Right. And the parent's shame and feeling that shame from others. So , can you guys talk a little bit about how we handle when others are, or when we're feeling shame or feeling blamed for the way our child's behaving when it really is just that persistent temperament trait. Either they're being very persistent. Why is your kid not listening? Wow. He just won't give up, you know, come on. Or on that low end of a less persistent kid. Why are they not developmentally on par? Why are they not as developed? Why is your kid not walking when my kid is walking? So do you want to talk just a little bit about navigating that situation?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. Can I go first?

Mackenzie DeJong:

Yes, you may.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Okay. So I want to go back the Raising Your Spirited Child book by Mary Sheedy Jurcinka, because as I've been listening to it, it's not a new idea, but saying it this way kind of blew my mind of the labels are contagious in the way we talk about our kids and the way other people talk about our kids. And so , one of the researchers we talked with , Rob Copeland, about shyness, he talked about, instead of saying with our shy kid or with our persisting kid , you know, instead of saying they're difficult , to somebody else we would talk about, you know, that's really important to them or, yeah , they're tenacious, right. They're getting after it. You know, when he talked about it in terms of what they might need. So a shy child might need a little more time instead of saying they're shy. So I might say, well, a persistent child, they need to find a way to tackle things themselves. Right. They need to find a way to tackle things , or for a low persistent child, Oh, well, you know, you really need to push her more. Right. That might be what the shaming sounds like. You really need to. And I'm like, you know what? My child is a child that could use a little more time. Sure. And I'm going to encourage that. I'm not gonna encourage her. And , so I think those labels of how we talk about it can change a little bit of that shame of owning. No, I don't need to be ashamed of this. This is my child's temperament and I'm proud of myself for knowing that.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Right. And I think that some of that is , you know, there's lots of conversations that are had about this, but changing the words you're using rather than being like, don't attack my kid, you know. Like using better communication to get that across of like, in that moment of saying, yeah, he's really persistent. Oh, he's taking forever to get his coat zipped. Yeah. He's really persistent. He really likes to figure it out himself rather than being like, yo, don't attack my kid, which I don't know where that came from. I just said that. But really that you get, instead of getting defensive, rather just helping to change that conversation. Lori.

Lori Hayungs:

No, I love this and I love talking about temperament and you know how long it's been on my mind to share this. But we've been talking to a variety of different veterans in the field of temperament researchers. And , and one of them in particular said, you know, there's this whole, and I believe that we talked about this last week. Well , there's this whole mess of parenting books. Correct? And this whole mess of parenting books is for, you know, the average normal population within the certain realm. And you have these extremes on opposite ends of these temperament continuums. And that piece of parenting tool book might work for a majority of people reading the book. But for this extreme on each end of the continuum, we have to tweak that parenting tool. And it's the same thing with persistence. And I think that one particularly , I mean, I think everyone's going to be able to relate to this, is the child who doesn't sleep. The child who is persistent, all those sleep help books, unless they're recognizing temperament as a piece of the child's sleep cycle, they're not going to work. You know, there's all these methods and all these suggestions, but ultimately the persistent child, it's probably not going to work for them. So when it comes to this parent shaming, no , we feel deeply the, you know, how many of my friends use this book? And it worked. It does work for a majority of people. But, and so I think that that's really important when it comes to that shaming and that judgment , that now that you know temperament , you know, and understand that not every book is going to work for every child. And so no longer in your vocabulary is, well, this should work for you. Right.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And I think you're getting at, if I can, this is why at The Science of Parenting, temperament is a big reason why at The Science of Parenting, we talk about a pluralistic approach. There's more than one way to raise great kids, right? Because what worked for child A, even within the same family, what worked for child A may not work well for child B. They might have different needs and it's all right to do things differently. And it's all right if that book didn't work for you, that's why we believe it.

Lori Hayungs:

It is not wrong for you to let your child go outside and play before they finish their spelling words. All right . It is not wrong for you to, you know, let your child have a snack before dinner.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And it's not wrong for you to have your child finish their spelling words before going outside. Exactly.

Lori Hayungs:

Huh . So much.

Mackenzie DeJong:

And sorry, just to kind of build off of that. I was thinking, you know, that's our whole philosophy is taking the research and having that apply to your reality is most research and most of those books we're reading are that, that middle section. Right? So we're looking at what works best for the majority of people, because that's how research goes. But temperament is awesome because we can look at the research and then put it in a context of those extremes, of how would that maybe play out in a different situation.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And you're child is still normal. Just a different kind of normal than this other kind, right?

Mackenzie DeJong:

They just don't fall in the middle section. Yes. Yes. So I think, I think we pulled that off switching questions at last minute, but I thought that was a really great conversation to have too . So thanks to Barb for throwing that one to me. Thank you. Bye.

Mackenzie Johnson:

All right . We'll catch up . So that's a little bit about persistence, understanding this trait, what it might look like with our kids on either end of the spectrum or the continuum, and you know, how we can look at our own persistence, you know, like other traits. How do we look at our own traits and our trials to create a goodness of fit. Understanding we've got those strategies tucked in our pocket, finding that yes. and recognizing, understanding what our kids might need.

Lori Hayungs:

So thanks for joining us today on The Science of Parenting podcast. Remember subscribe to our weekly audio podcast on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. And you can watch us each week on our social media and join us periodically as we take your comments and questions live. So 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 posted 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.