The Science of Parenting

Rhythm of Life | S. 3 Ep. 11

October 15, 2020 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Season 3 Episode 11
The Science of Parenting
Rhythm of Life | S. 3 Ep. 11
Chapters
The Science of Parenting
Rhythm of Life | S. 3 Ep. 11
Oct 15, 2020 Season 3 Episode 11
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Although we cannot always control our children, we can influence their environment. Find out how temperament impacts pivotal moments throughout the day.

Send us an email: [email protected]
Find us on Facebook or Twitter: @scienceofparent.

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

Show Notes Transcript

Although we cannot always control our children, we can influence their environment. Find out how temperament impacts pivotal moments throughout the day.

Send us an email: [email protected]
Find us on Facebook or Twitter: @scienceofparent.

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 guys, welcome to the Science of Parenting podcast, where we connect you with research based information that fits your family. We're going to 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 different life stages. One is launched, one is in college, and one is in high school, and I am a parenting educator. And in August, we launched season three, and we're continuing all the way through the end of November talking about temperament and how your child's temperament and yours can impact your parenting. Mm hmm.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, today, we get to do another deep dive on the trait of regularity and rhythmicity, whichever one of those words kind of feels right for you. I like both.

Lori Hayungs:

I do, too. They both mean two different things to me. But anyway, so let's start here first, right? So a quick reminder about what temperament is and what temperament isn't before we start. So temperament is our predisposition to how we react to our world around us. It goes way back to the beginning of our own life, right back to the nursery at the hospital. And how is this different from personality? Well, temperament is that foundation that we start with. And then we begin to layer on top of that foundation, our growth and development, the environment that we grow up in, the people that we grow up around. And all of that starts to begin to form our personality. But it's really that temperament at the base of the foundation that gives us our start. It's always been there, and it always will be there.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And there's a lot of great research to back up this concept of temperament. We talked about the original nine traits from Thomas and Chess' research. Lots of other great researchers out there. You know, like Jim Cameron and his colleagues at Kaiser Permanente have studied thousands of kids with his temperament profiles, and they've been following this research for more than 30 years. So there's a lot of great science behind this concept of temperament, and how it impacts kids and adults and everybody. So you can check out our temperament resources on our website, scienceofparenting.org. So again, you can find profiles, you can find links, you can find our blogs, videos, lots of different great resources related to temperament on that website. And again, that was scienceofparenting.org. So for today, like I said, we're going to dive into this trait of regularity.

Lori Hayungs:

Yes. Now, I'm going to start off by saying this particular episode could be very heavy when it comes to family values. Oh, yeah. Because the things that we're talking about have to do with biological functions, rhythmicity and regularity is something that we get lots of opinions about when it comes to parenting. Lots of advice. And you may be thinking, well, how is this different from other traits? Well, the bottom line is this, regularity is the idea that your body has natural rhythms. And these natural rhythms show up in eating, sleeping, and essentially using the bathroom. And as adults, whether we are parents, childcare providers, teachers, aunts, uncles, whoever we are taking care of young children, eating, sleeping, and pooping are three things that we desperately want to control in children. Yes. And so it becomes very value heavy, because there are many different family values centered around meals and sleep schedules. And so I want you to just try to think about that, as you hear us speak about rhythmicity and regularity. And hear us also say that there is more than one great way to raise kids, right? But I was just gonna say yes, this is going to be one of those episodes where you might not agree with your neighbor, you might not agree with your mother, you might not agree with your spouse or your partner. Because when it comes to regularity, bodily functions, boy, we really want to control them in our kids.

Mackenzie Johnson:

There are certain aspects of being an adult, like our jobs, right, our home life, like there's so many different aspects that these biological functions of eat, sleep, poop that have an effect. And so we want our kids to fit our schedule. That baby, right, I want that baby to know that dad works the night shift. I want that baby to know that mom likes to eat at a regular time, right? We want our baby to kind of fit those things. And as adults, we have those experiences and skills to navigate through those situations with whatever level of regularity we have, right? Whether we got a lot of this trait or a little, but our kids don't necessarily have those skills yet. And sometimes we don't even know right off the bat, right? We don't know what to expect when our kids are born. Holding this baby in my hands, I don't know if I got a very regular or a very irregular child. And give us a little more of a definition, though. What like, yeah, straight a little more.

Lori Hayungs:

Yeah. So let's go back to the definition. And so essentially, the definition of rhythmicity and regularity is this idea that your body, your internal rhythm of your body, has this way of working. And so when it comes to rhythmicity and regularity, those three biological functions of eating, sleeping and eliminating, essentially, those are triggered by your body and your natural temperaments started at some place. And that's the foundation. And so, you know, we think again, back to the nursery, no one told that baby on day one to sleep four or five hours. No one told that baby to have three dirty diapers. Their body has a natural rhythm. And that's temperament.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Uh huh. And again, that's that important aspect of like, accepting the gift? Like this is their regularity? Highly irregular, kind of in the middle or very regular? Yeah. So how do you kind of describe it? Like, you know, in terms of how you just kind of casually think about, how do you describe this trait?

Lori Hayungs:

When I think of this particular trait, I do have to admit, again, you know, it is one of my favorites. I have probably said that five or six times. Probably it is just that idea that in parts of my life, I really like to have control. And this is the trait that reminds me, I do not have control of this particular thing. And so it's one of those traits, that it's like a love hate relationship, because it helps me to remember that, honestly, Lori, there are a lot of other places in your life you don't have control. And so it's a way that I love this trait, because it reminds me, right, that I have influence over a whole bunch more than I have control over.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, I love that. Yeah. And I mean, I'll share this throughout the episode, I tend to be pretty irregular, so I have low rhythmicity. I might stay up. I mean, I might stay up till two o'clock on a weeknight. If I get caught up in something, I'm like, hey, I want to keep going. I'm not ready to stop and I'm not that tired. And so I am that person that might be up late. I might sleep in. I might not eat lunch till late, I might decide I need to eat at 10:30, not always super predictable. And so I think that word is what comes to mind for me with regularity and rhythmicity is everybody has a pattern. Is that pattern predictable? Is that pattern regular? Right? Maybe you wouldn't even call mine a pattern? Because it's not predictable. Patterns are supposed to be.

Lori Hayungs:

Say, is that an amoeba? Is that that kind of animal that has no shape or pattern? Right?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah. I know what you're talking about.

Lori Hayungs:

It's a science thing, right? Yeah. Yeah.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. Very, it's in flex. I'll get to bed at some point, probably. Um, but so I do think of that like pattern. And the other thing I think of, you know, even just as we were talking through this trait together, how much convincing does my body need? I think of that with regularity, you know. I'm not a person that climbs in bed and falls asleep. My body needs convincing to do those things. And so I think of that, how much convincing does our body need for those biological functions?

Lori Hayungs:

So love that. Yes, yes.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Let's dig in a little more on this, you know, this continuum, right. Everybody either gets a little or gets a lot or lands in the middle. We know most people will land in the middle here on our temperament traits. So how much do we get? Let's hear a little about those kids that are little less regular.

Lori Hayungs:

Okay, so let's hear about the Mackenzies, right? Less regular temperament or less rhythmic or irregular, you know. These kids, they rarely fall into a schedule, no matter how rigid the schedule is, no matter how much Aunt Martha said, if you just...right? It's harder to establish routines with them. Their regularity and their rhythm has its own beat. And honestly, they have no idea why they aren't hungry when everyone else is. They're not trying to be disrespectful, they just aren't hungry. I've no idea what they're talking about. They lay awake at night because their body just works differently. They won't easily fall into that sleep pattern like you were talking about. And you know, I think is so important when it comes to the irregular child to recognize that this is not your fault. There is no shame in having an irregular temperament. And there is no judgment on you as a parent if your child has an irregular temperament because this is the way their body came. That's hard, oh, that's a hard sell sometimes, because we have all these people and places and things that are telling us, well, if you only would just follow a schedule, and you know, we've talked about schedules and routines.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Right, yes. And so when I think of an irregular or less rhythmic, myself included right, McCall Gordon, and remember, in our sleep episode, she talks about the second wind comes really hard for some kids, and I'm like, that is my whole life. If I am not asleep before, that second wind hits, I will go. That's how I ended up at two o'clock in the morning. So I do, I think of with our irregular kids and with myself, my body has more convincing, it's not that natural, right? I'm not naturally automatically hungry at the same time every day. Now, as an adult I have skills. I have experience. I have expectations on me, right, that we eat at a somewhat regular time for our kids. But I think that distinction between a schedule and a routine is really important with regularity. So I think with regular kids, it's really about cues. It's really about like when am I getting tired? When is my child getting hungry? As opposed to starving? Because that sneaks up on me, too, as a irregular person. I wasn't hungry at this time, but 20 minutes later, I am hungry.

Lori Hayungs:

No, you are now hangry? Yes.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. I've lost all my cool. Yes.

Lori Hayungs:

And so on the other side of the spectrum is the child that's highly irregular there. Yes, I have a rhythm. I'm very predictable. I have an internal alarm clock. And in fact, truth, truth, truth. I don't have an alarm clock. I don't own an electric alarm clock. I just can't remember the last time that I had one plugged in next to my bedside wall. I don't even know what I need to know what time it is and I can feel the hunger creep up on me. And I can think,

oh, it must be close to 11:

00, 11:30. Okay. I'm tired the same time every day. My middle daughter eats about the same amount every day. And as a kid, I knew what time it was based on what time she was going to need to use the bathroom. That's just the facts. She got it from me. She's very regular. And I knew her pattern. It was predictable. I knew when we needed to be home so she could nap. I knew when I needed to leave the gathering so that she could eat. I knew if I had to bring snacks if we were going to be running late with meals. That's just the other side of that continuum.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Absolutely. And my youngest is very much this way. I'm very, like my husband, very regular that even like on maternity leave from the nursery, the kid settled into such a natural, predictable pattern. And so his body didn't need a lot of convincing to go down for a nap. And like you said, I could, literally he would start fussing and I'd be like, okay, it's about this time, isn't it? And my husband be like, well, yeah, and I'm like, okay, well, that's because he's tired. He was just very regular in those biological functions.

Lori Hayungs:

Yes. Oh, so it's at this point in my notes where I wrote Lori writes a best selling book example. I just shared this with you. Okay? So, this is why I love this trait so much, because when we look at temperament and we look at the percentages of people and children on the opposite ends of the spectrum of the continuum. Okay, so we know, about 15 to 20% of us are very regular, very regular. That means that if this new author, Lori, wrote a book, and this new author said, schedule your kids, just create a schedule, keep them on schedule, you will find success as a parent. Well, just based on the law of averages 15% to 20% of the people who buy my book, and follow the schedule, it's going to work because their child is regular. So they think I'm a genius, they're gonna tell their friends to buy my book. Well, then there's this, you know, middle ground, and about 60% of us are fairly regular. There's times we're not, you know, it's just this it depends flexible, right? So even if I sell my book to those folks, five out of seven days, they're going to probably find mostly successful scheduling. And the other thing is, they're gonna think they blew it, not me. And I think we get so wrapped up in this idea of scheduling, scheduling, scheduling. Grandma and grandpa and aunts and uncles and siblings tell us schedule, schedule, schedule, but it's really at that biological rhythm. So for 60% of the people, all those people in the middle, and those on the end that are regular, my book works. It's for those other 15 to 20%, that it doesn't work. That we see so much shame and judgment, and adjusting around. And what I want to tell those parents is my book stinks. My book is not going to work for you, no matter how much you follow that book, because your child's natural temperament is not going to fall into a predictable pattern. And so I think that that's why I love this particular trait, because it helps me reach out to those parents who say, but I followed the book, and it doesn't work.

Mackenzie Johnson:

The book wasn't written for you. The schedule book wasn't written for parents of irregular kids. And I don't think even for irregular parents, I'm an irregular parent.

Lori Hayungs:

Don't buy that book.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Don't make me!

Lori Hayungs:

Yes.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And I think that's just like a really great example to remind everybody, right? We get what we get in terms of our temperament. Our kids get what they get. And the book on scheduling might not be the right book for you, which also can be really hard for a highly regular parent. Like, I operate this way, this is how things have always gone. I want my child to do these things. Yes. And there's this thing called the vision of responsibility that we're actually going to talk more about, I'm jumping ahead. But accepting what we have and knowing that routines and schedules are different tools. And sometimes scheduling works fantastic. For my youngest if he was my only kid and if I was a regular parent, instead of who I am, we could live a very highly scheduled life and do really well. When my irregular child and I, that's not our vibe, like that is not how we feel comfortable and successful. So okay, before I go all the way down the road. Always pump the brakes on me like wait, Mackenzie. So let's hear a little bit about how this trait, right how this trait of rhythmicity plays out across these different ages. We know that, you know, at certain stages in our kid's life, there's gonna be times when we find a temperament trait that we're like, oh, my gosh, I love how regular they are. And other times we're like, oh, man, if he wasn't so regular, right, yeah. So how does this play out on what we know about how children develop. So let's start with the little again.

Lori Hayungs:

So let's think about the infants, what is their big developmental milestone that's happening in their life right now. You know, essentially, it's that idea that someone is taking care of them, and they're trusting the adult to take care of them. And you said something really important. And you said that word cues. And when it comes to the irregular versus the regular infant, essentially, regardless of their temperament, they're trusting you to learn their cues. We don't go by the clock. We go by their cues, whether they're regular or irregular. We gotta go by their cues because as infants, their whole being is about learning to trust the adults. So we have to go by their cues because that's how they tell us what they need.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And so that regular baby, their cues might come by a clock. Those cues like my youngest, those cues came around the same times. And so that was predictable. And so like, yeah, even infant sleep. I know even now, he's over one now, but I can still predict like, he's gonna be tired around this time. But it's the cues, that's the trick is his might fit a schedule. But for infants, the less regular child, they might not. They likely will not.

Lori Hayungs:

It is highly probable. And so if we look at the toddlers, and we think about well, what are toddlers developmentally trying to do? They're trying to become independent. And so when it comes to regular versus irregular toddlers, your power struggle as a parent, the thing you like to control is, you know, how much and how little they eat? Or what time they eat, or what time they go to bed and how much they sleep? Or when and how often do you take them to the bathroom? All three of those are diving into independence. I want to eat this. I want to eat this much. I don't want to nap. I don't have to sit on this potty chair.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I can eat oranges today.

Lori Hayungs:

Yes. And so this is where we get into these huge power struggles, just because of the nature of their age. And then we put temperament and their biological rhythms on top of it. This is a perfect storm.

Mackenzie Johnson:

That's a little volcano there waiting to erupt?

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Our regular kids, you know, they might be hungry like we said around that same time. I even remember conversations, you know, between my sister and I, our daughters around the same age and even just talking about like, okay, I feel like they're not eating anything these days, you know, versus okay. Yeah, I swear, they're putting everything away. You know, like all that. All that regularity versus I know that this is about what I can expect.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly. And think about the fact that you know, not only are they becoming independent, but now as they grow, they're starting to move into little social circles, right? So your daughter is going to preschool. And so as she moves into that preschool age, she's gone from independent to now she's starting to make her own decisions. And she's even beginning to figure out, well, what's my role in the world. And so when it comes to regularity and irregularity, they're making decisions about what I'm going to eat. You know, like you said, I don't like oranges today, how long my nap is, um, you know, if I'm going to use the bathroom before we go to the grocery store. So those things are just part of the three and four year old as a little human being, and then add in their biological rhythm that they have no control over. And neither do you.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Well and I think of like, I could guess if we go somewhere around my son's naptime. I can guess that he's gonna fall asleep in the car. Right. Like, that's who he is. When we would go places around my daughter's naptime. I was like, okay, cross your fingers, right? Like, I hope she naps, she might or she might not fall asleep till we're three minutes from being there. And then she'll pop the eyes open and that will be the nap. For my irregular kid, that works all right. For my very regular son, yeah, he needs that solid nap. And so I literally with my daughter, I'd be like, she'll be alright with the shorter nap just right now. With my son it's like, okay, better drive around for awhile.

Lori Hayungs:

Yeah, I remember there were times when my middle daughter was younger and was needing naps, where we'd be at family functions. And I would literally take her out of the family function for a nap. And at times, I remember people, you know, thinking, well, it's just 20 more minutes. Can't she just stay awake 20 more minutes? And I was thinking, actually, no, because those 20 minutes are about to be horrible for you because she's not going to eat. And so I think that there's that built in level of, okay, do I just let this biological function happen and ruin everyone else's day? Or do I stand my ground and say no, I actually know that my very regular child needs to use the bathroom within the next 20 minutes. So this is why it's so value heavy because, you know, there are so many things we stick our flag in the ground around when it comes to eating, sleeping and bathrooming.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, well and people saying, you know, your child needs to participate in the activities we have together. That's the value. People saying you need to eat what is offered to you, that's a value. You need to have a schedule, you know, all of these things are things that families either value, or maybe it's not such a big deal to you.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And like, it's okay to have different opinions about it.

Lori Hayungs:

And think about even the idea of they aren't allowed to move to the next room of childcare until x. Until they don't take a morning nap. Until they're potty trained. Until they don't have a bottle. I mean, those are huge family values that are impacted by societal rules.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Mm hmm. Oh, I love Yes. By societal rules. Yes. It's not the values also, what people consider even just the perceived norm.

Lori Hayungs:

Yes.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Of like, this is what happens. And a lot of them revolve around that eating, sleeping and pooping. They do. Right. So what about our older kids? We don't think about the eating, sleeping and pooping.

Lori Hayungs:

So in our school agers and our teenagers, the thing that we think about what it what is it that their body as they grow, is learning and doing and that's the identity, you know, who am I as a human being in these circles of friends? Socially, what is my role, and if you think about it in terms of regularity, think about the child who is very regular, that has a long bus ride at the end of the day. That child might struggle on the bus ride because of a biological function, maybe it's the bathroom? Maybe they are very hungry. Maybe it's because they get so tired at the end of the day. And so you think about socially, who's gonna make fun of me if I fall asleep on the bus? Who's gonna make fun of me if I accidentally have an accident on the bus? You know, am I gonna get in a fight on the bus because I'm so hungry, because my body is irregular or so regular, right? You know. And so it's those types of things. And those are really the times that we begin to teach our children how to work with their natural biological rhythms and recognize, you know, are there times where, you know, the teacher is going to have to make sure and help me to remember to use the bathroom before I get on this 45 minute bus ride? Or do I need to make sure that I have, you know, a certain kind of snack in my backpack, because it's a long bus ride to the game. And before I get to the game, I'm going to be hungry. So you know, teaching our children those types of tricks becomes even more important as they become teenagers, and they know these things, but we also have to help them set limits. So instead of staying up till 2am if they're irregular, you know, making sure that they have that opportunity to have some good night's sleep on the weekends, etc.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, I even think of an example one of our colleagues has told me about with her own kids. She had one of her kids, I want to say he was even like in high school when this happened, that he kept getting in trouble during the class right before lunch. And it was right after semester switch, they had basically moved his lunch away from the early lunch wave, and there were three lunch waves, right? Like the early, the medium and the late one. He had always had the early lunch wave, and now he was the late one. And he kept getting in trouble in class. And they figured out like, okay, you need to have 10 crackers before you go to fifth period, you know. As a high schooler realizing you can help be in charge of those bodily functions and recognizing your own pattern. And I just thought that was such a great thing to figure out instead of automatically thinking disciplinary. I was, like, figure out what's going on, and they didn't have any problems again. Yes.

Lori Hayungs:

And think about that in terms of discipline, how many disciplinary actions happen right before lunch? Or on the bus and when you really get down to the nitty gritty of discipline problems, many of them have to do with this biological rhythm and what's happening in our body that we don't recognize as children that we start to recognize as adults.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Mm hmm. Absolutely. And so I think this kind of brings us to this point of remembering this goodness of fit, how we learn to respond to our kids' temperament if our temperament is the same, right? I'm a highly irregular, my daughter's highly irregular, whether that's the same, whether we have a clash and differences in things like that. As Thomas and Chess call it, this term of goodness of fit. And learning to understand and support our child's temperament and the gift of their temperament can actually help us so that we're not blaming our child or blaming ourselves. Right. We just talked about disciplinary action. We're not discipling something, this inborn trait that they have no control over, right? Yeah. Now it's not okay to not make good choices or be mean to people or things like that. But like, let's understand the temperament, let's accommodate, anticipate, you know, create that goodness of fit for sure.

Lori Hayungs:

Yes, when we were talking through this, I really appreciated one thing that Kenzie DeJong said she said, we talk about research says, research says do this, research says schedule this, research says if you do this, but then there's also this thing called temperament. And we need to balance research and temperament and go, okay, so research says this, but for my child's temperament and my family's values, this is what we'll choose. Yes. And that happens with goodness of fit as well. And so research says this, temperament is this, the balance is, and this is where the fit comes in.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And I think, you know, research says healthy meals and snacks, right, that energizes how our kids feel their bodies. Research tells us that's important. Good night's sleep. Research tells us that is important. Family connections, which often happen over family meals, right? There's all these things that research says, and how we do those things is what we decide about our reality. So you know, with my irregular child, right now she is in the stage, we've kind of figured out like, you know, I gave this example before of she would come home and some days, she wanted a snack and some days she didn't. And my answer always varied on how close to supper we were. So we were like, okay, she needs to know what to expect. Yep, you can have a snack. Now my job in that was to provide snacks that I was okay with her eating. Exactly. And then, if supper was four minutes later, she could even bring that snack to supper, because she really was hungry. She wasn't being difficult, just because she hadn't been hungry the day before. It was just her pattern a little more unpredictable.

Lori Hayungs:

Yeah, I think the hardest thing is probably the idea that well, are we giving in? You know, are we by not having a rigid schedule, are we then giving in or some people have used the term spoiling. Well, you're spoiling them by giving in and I would argue that when it comes to temperament, watching and responding to their cues is not giving in. We can teach our children, you know, acceptable choices, healthy choices. We can teach our children to stay at the table till we're all finished. Yes, but we actually can't control how much food goes in their mouth. And so rather than have this, you know, mealtime that is fraught with anger and argument and controlling. You know, actually, if you're not hungry, we just want you to sit here with us and enjoy our company, and we want to have conversations with you. And you know, the meal that's on your plate, we'll save it for later. But in the meantime, we're not going to demean and argue with each other about how much literally goes down your throat into your belly. We're gonna have a really great conversation about how was your day? What was the fun thing about your day? What was the hardest thing about your day? And then when your body tells you you're hungry, you know, I have dinner, it's still here for you. It's hard.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, it is. And it is a matter like you said in the beginning, it's giving up control and sometimes control that parents think they're supposed to have. Exactly. And so we're giving you permission, right? We talked in a previous episode about balancing warmth and expectations. Control is neither of those words. It's right. The appropriate expectation is that your child does eat right. At some point, they nourish their body with food. Yeah. And so my daughter is literally at the point some days, she knows and she'll dump her plate, like if she ate quite a bit of supper. And some days, she might say, I don't know if I'm done with this. And it might sit there till bedtime, and she might come back to it. And she might not. But some days she dumps the plate, some days it goes on the counter or in the fridge, but that's a skill she's working to build over time. And I also advocate, we don't need to have control of it because as a grownup I get to choose, right. So sometimes when I ask myself like, Oh, is this a thing that I'm giving in to, you know, am I spoiling? Like, okay, what if an adult wanted this? Okay, it would be really reasonable. If I had a moment he's like, you know, I'm not really that hungry. I wouldn't say, you'd better eat at least 15 bites? Yes. How many? How old are you? How many bites do you have to take? I'd be like, okay, well, you know, can we sit together? And so we can give our kids that same grace. Exactly.

Lori Hayungs:

So let's do this little idea of what's wonderful. So what's wonderful about an irregular child or an irregular temperament? And what's wonderful about a regular or a rhythmic temperament? You start.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Okay, so I feel like it's a little obvious. I feel like I've been talking about this the whole time. But one of the great things about irregularity, so being less regular, I think the flexibility, right, and the ability to sometimes like, I'm not that tired, I could stay up, you know. And so having that opportunity for flexibility and with my child that's irregular like, oh, it's kind of close to your nap time But like, yeah, you're gonna be okay. Knowing that she can get by with less because her body is a little more irregular. So that flexibility. What would you say is wonderful about being less regular?

Lori Hayungs:

Spontaneity. The ability, like you said, to be spontaneous, flexible, to be okay with not having a rigid schedule. Like that's okay.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, yeah.

Lori Hayungs:

Okay, so I'm going to go first on what's wonderful about a regular rhythmic, scheduled rhythmic temperament. And I think that it's that ability to anticipate and predict so I felt that that was wonderful. That I could predict and I knew if I had snacks that they would be eaten or, you know, whatever, that predictability. How about you?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Okay, I was gonna use the same word, but I wanna - selfish parent. So this is about how I look as a parent. This is not necessarily about my kids. My very regular child makes me look good. My very regular child makes me look so with it when I'm like, oh, he must be so tired. Oh, he's just so hungry. And it almost makes me cry a little bit because I do think so often with our irregular kids, you talk about that shame. And so my regular child makes me look like a super competent parent because he's so predictable. Yes. Which also was challenging with my less regular child that people make you feel bad.

Lori Hayungs:

Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Not that nobody makes you feel bad if you have a highly regular child. Um, but like, there is a level of people like, Oh, yeah, you know, your child so well. It's like, well, it's easier to know him. It's easier, he's predictable.

Lori Hayungs:

That's why 80% of the people think that the book I'm about to write is going to be genius. Because 80% of kids are probably going to fall into some kind of schedule.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So yes, that predictability and then, yeah, it does. It makes me look like I know my child so well. Well, yes, because it was pretty easy to put the puzzle together this time.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly. They were pretty big pieces in that puzzle.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So, that kind of brings us to this place of what we call the your reality. So told you about the temperament trait of regularity or rhythmicity, whichever word you like. And so it brings us to some strategies. No that we understand it, what do we do about that? What do we practice with our kids and in our parenting to adapt and accommodate and anticipate with their natural regularity?

Lori Hayungs:

So several of these ideas come from Mary Sheedy Kurcinka's book, Raising Your Spirited Child, and then we've you've heard us kind of allude to them throughout this episode. But the first one is to prepare ahead of time to anticipate. And this goes with both sides of the continuum, the irregular child or the regular child, just prepare ahead of time. If you know your child is going to be needing a snack, then bring a snack. If you know that your child may not eat dinner out, bring a snack. You know, just preparing and anticipating that ahead of time.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, absolutely. And knowing my child is going to be tired, right, my regular child will be tired at this time, I probably shouldn't play an X activity or you know what, my child did not really nap today. And they might be, because they're regular, they might be tired right at the time when we would normally get ready to go somewhere. So yeah, prepare for that ahead of time. And the other one being using words. Yeah. Right. So I think using the words in order to explain to help your child to understand their own temperament. Oh, I know in the Raising Your Spirited Child book, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka talks about how we talk to our kids about their temperament. So the word say, you know, maybe to an irregular child, instead of being like, well, I just never know what you're going to need. Instead, we use positive words like, you know what, you're flexible. Or you might be able to do a really important job like being a police officer overnight, or a firefighter, overnight nurse, a pilot. And so putting positive words to help them understand their own temperament.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly. So the next one then is creating cues. So not only recognizing the cues that your child has, but creating cues with them. So you might give them a thumbs up when you recognize that they're starting to get antsy. And you're thinking, oh, they're playing with their friend, you give them a thumbs up that says to them, oh, you know what, I'm getting antsy, I might need a snack. I feel agitated. I'm thinking I'm hungry, and I'm not realizing it. So the idea of creating cues, but also creating routines around those cues.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And I think that routine piece in particular, like that routine part is such an important part of this regularity.

Lori Hayungs:

Absolutely.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And so then the last one, which I feel like we always are talking about, is having those self help skills, helping them understand that temperament and like what feels good to you, what helps you feel calm. I'm not gonna lie. Sometimes when I stay up till 2am the next day, I'm like, oh, my gosh, why did I do that? I'm so tired. But it felt really good to work on the thing I was working on. Um, you know, and so it's not necessarily always about being impulsive. Knowing and helping your child understand, like, okay, if you do this, what will happen? What are the skills that you need, right, you're going to get enough sleep, because you have a test tomorrow, or a lot of those things. So those self help skills to navigate with their temperament?

Lori Hayungs:

Absolutely. Just the idea of accepting, accepting their natural rhythm is so important. We had a little conversation about making choices that maybe go against their natural rhythm. And so a couple of things we talked about was, you know, sometimes as a parent, we want to stay at that family gathering later. And we know that our regular child is then going to be going to bed later. Which means that there could be a parent power struggle, either at 2am or at 6am. And so what we talked about was that idea of, you know what, I as a parent, I can still make that choice to go against or, you know, to bump up against my child's temperament. But because I made that choice, then that just means that later, when the consequence of that choice is happening, I need to also be the adult and recognize, you know what, this is not my child's fault. This is not my opportunity to demean their temperament. This is where I say, yes, I chose to keep us up later so that we could spend more time with family, and I knew that I was going to get to spend this time at 2am with my child, and this is also an opportunity at 2am. And I think that that's, you know, again, the idea that these three areas are so value driven, that we just have to continually remind ourselves that it's this biological pattern rhythm, you know, inside of our physiology.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Mm hmm. And I think that point comes along with, you know, we say like, well, now you know temperament, right, now you're the grown up. We're not saying, you know, we are encouraging you to accommodate and help teach your child skills, accommodate their temperament and those things. We are not saying you never get to pick what's good for you, right? We're saying you get to make the choice. The choice can be like, right, I can choose to keep my child up because I want to stay, right? I want do this. I can choose that sometimes. I don't always but I know when I'm choosing because I understand temperament. I know I also might be choosing that like, my child might be tired and cranky the next day. My child might be having a hard time and I might say, you know what, it's worth it. I really want to be where I am right now. And that's okay. That's okay. Yes. Okay, I have one more. This isn't really like from the official list. Right now, okay. As I think about biological rhythms, I think about this concept of the division of responsibility. So this is terminology that our nutrition counterparts often use when they're teaching about feeding and meals and things like that. That our job as the adults, when it comes to food, right, we provide healthy meals, we provide snacks, you know, the things that we're okay with our children eating, that's what we're in charge. When it comes to sleep, we come up with routines that we are okay with keeping, right and when it comes to potty training, and all those things associated with that. So our job is to come up with those things we're okay with. Ultimately, it's our child's job to choose to eat. And ultimately, it's our child's job to get to sleep, right. We can do everything in the world, even as a tiny infant, we can be doing everything. and that baby might not sleep. We can be doing everything and that teenager might not be ready to go to bed. And so I think understanding that division of responsibility, like my job is to create an environment where you have access to food, right? And where I provide food for you, or to create an environment where you have a routine that helps you get sleepy, or bedroom that's the right kind of environment to help you fall asleep. And so dividing that responsibility, like these are things I control. I don't control whether they actually eat or sleep.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly. You as much as you want to, I'm going to disappoint you and tell you, you don't.

Mackenzie Johnson:

But I also think that there's a little bit of grace in that. Like to say to yourself, I did everything I had control of as a parent. I made food, I provided it, it's on their plate, they got to choose how much they wanted. Well, they took three bites. Okay. Right, my child's not hungry right now. And that might mean they'll be hungry in 40 minutes. And okay. And then I'll provide something I'm okay with them eating.

Lori Hayungs:

Absolutely. Something I'm okay with them eating. Absolutely.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So division of responsibility. That's one that kept coming to mind for like, can't control these things, but we can be in charge of these.

Lori Hayungs:

So I love that. Yeah. All right. So let's bring in Kenzi, our producer. She is going to take this moment in time to have our Stop. Breathe. Talk. moment. We have no idea what she's going to ask us. We often try to get her to tell us what she's going to ask us. But this is her time to kind of come up with some question regarding regularity.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Here we go.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Here we go. Alright, so my first question is, if I'm regular enough to need a nap every afternoon, am I allowed to take a nap at like two o'clock every day?

Lori Hayungs:

Um, are you asking from a child perspective? Or adult/employee perspective?

Mackenzie DeJong:

Me. Oh, never mind. That's not my question. My question actually is so as I was thinking through this, I realized that often we talk about, I mean, Mackenzie will talk about specifically her youngest child being one way or her oldest child being a certain way. And then I realized that we never really talk about that family dynamic of having multiple kids who might be on opposite ends of the spectrum. And we could talk about this and in terms of any of the temperament traits, right? Oh, yeah. But I guess I'm asking it in terms of this one, specifically, how do you make plans? How do you get into those routines that are so critical? How do we meet those needs when you have two kids on opposite ends of the spectrum? Because it's easy to say, oh, you just need to have a different routine, or oh, you just need to have a different schedule for that child. But what if, like Mackenzie, you have a very regular child and you have a very irregular child. How do you make those two meet? How do we line that up to have a good fit?

Mackenzie Johnson:

I have an answer. The division of responsibility.

Lori Hayungs:

There you go.

Mackenzie Johnson:

But okay, so I know that's not exactly.

Mackenzie DeJong:

But explain to me how that works with your two kids.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. So also, I love this question because I don't have enough on when we have kids with different needs. So I will say in our house with my very regular child, he still uses a booster or a highchair. So I literally think about that kid needs to be clipped into the highchair at 5:30. That is who he is. And so we strive, like I said, I'm an irregular parent, so we strive to meet that need to feed something by 5:30. And sometimes he is getting a different meal than us if supper is not going to be ready. Sure, but having other things on hand that we are okay with him eating. So I will say we strive to meet that regular pattern. And for my irregular daughter, that might mean, she might come home and be ready for a snack at five. And she might be still eating that snack at 5:30. She

might devour supper at 5:

30 one night, and then the next night take three bites. Um, and so by dividing, I'm gonna provide my kids food. My daughter, my very irregular daughter, might not choose to eat much of it. And like, okay, that's her choice. And so like I said, she might put that plate on the counter, and then at seven, right before bedtime, she might run and grab that plate. I think even when we were doing more outings and stuff before the pandemic it's just a matter of with my son, I knew I could predict those nap times. With my daughter, okay, she might nap in the car, all right.

Mackenzie DeJong:

And I want to say you picked meals. I guess in my head, I was thinking like, how do I plan it? Well, right now no trips being planned. But how do you plan a trip? Like with kids of two different ones?

Lori Hayungs:

I would say it almost ends up sort of being developmentally, which child's needs are going to rise to the top. So developmentally, if my youngest child was absolutely going to need a nap, absolutely need a nap, then my older children could have snacks to tide them over. Or developmentally, if we were at a big family gathering, I would pull the nap needer out of the family gathering, which meant that maybe I was missing out. Or we all left and my older daughter and I would have a conversation about, you know, yes, sometimes we have to leave things early. And so sometimes those decisions are based on the developmental need. And sometimes those decisions are going to be based on the need of the parent in terms of, I know that I don't have any help right now. There's only one of me and I know that in 30 minutes, there needs to be two of me if I don't take care of this. And so, you know, I think that idea of multiple biological rhythms being completely opposite at different times, that's a reality and right. So the lucky thing is that if you can anticipate the regularity, or anticipate the irregularity, just knowing about it allows you the opportunity to anticipate and plan and create success somehow.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Okay, and I would actually almost say, now granted, I only have the kids I have. Um, so I would say that having a child that's irregular, and a child that's regular, almost kind of works out I feel like better for me, because one of them is flexible. Versus if I had two very regular kids needing things at the exact same time. But I wouldn't know for sure. That's somebody else's reality.

Lori Hayungs:

Right. And families that have multiples, you know, I know that families that have multiples talk about how the schedule saved their life, right? Absolutely. And so the idea is that provided, what you talked about Mackenzie was providing the environment. I can provide the environment to set you up for success. And so for parents who have multiple children of the same age, providing that regular consistent schedule, they provided the environment for success. Now, that environment doesn't work for every kid, it doesn't work for every family, so it's not for us to feel badly. Yes. You know, set that same exact environment up. Mm hmm. Yeah.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, that's a really great question though, Kenzie, because in terms of like being on the road. So and so's gonna need to stop around this time, this person's not.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Or I think this one will be flexible to like be out on the boat, but the other one, they're gonna need a nap. Well, some kids are okay taking a nap on the boat at their scheduled time, but some of them have to be in a bed, right? So yeah. Yeah, how the heck do you plan for all of that? You guys, you guys are superheroes.

Lori Hayungs:

I have been known to be slightly annoying to my family members and extended family, because I will be the one that says, okay, but what time is lunch? And what are we having for lunch? Okay, well, that will work because I know that I have a very regular child and I'm very regular. And so I know that if you don't want me to be hangry later, I've got to plan for, are we going to be back in time to avoid the hangrys, right?

Mackenzie Johnson:

And I think ultimately, Kenz, I think it comes down to understanding that temperament. And I mean because there are so many different scenarios, right? Every family is going to have their own reality with this trait, and the variation they have in their family. So if you have a clan of irregular kids and you're irregular parents, right?

Mackenzie DeJong:

Oh, gosh, I just realized, what if you have a whole bunch of irregular kids. They're all irregular? Oh, man.

Mackenzie Johnson:

But if you're irregular which chances are, right, it's genetic these traits. Or at least one of the parents is irregular. I actually really enjoy my daughter's irregularity. Um, because like, we went to the store the other night, we're wearing our masks, you know, and all ready and stuff. And it was like, oh, I guess it's kind of close your bedtime and I didn't really think about it? Well, okay, well, like she's fine.

Mackenzie DeJong:

I'm just imagining like 10,000 different snack times throughout the day. A whole bunch of irregular kids that all want a snack at a different time. That snack basket is gonna be in their reach so that they can get it themselves.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I have a friend who's the best at

Lori Hayungs:

Yeah. preparing snacks like that. And I do think, I think part of it is she like has all these healthy snacks. Oh, you're so with it. But she has several irregular kids. Oh, she's like, I know they're probably not gonna be ready to eat lunch at whenever we're ready to eat lunch. And so I want to make sure I have snacks on hand that I'm okay if that's all they eat. Thanks for the question, Kenzie.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Love that question.

Lori Hayungs:

Great question.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Bye.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So yes, regularity or rhythmicity, this kind of natural pattern when it comes to biological functions like eating, sleeping and elimination. We know that we either got a lot or we got a little and that our role as parents is to help kind of develop this goodness of fit with our kids' temperament. We want to hold appropriate expectations while responding to their needs and their cues. So again, the difference I think that another episode, we're seeing this big difference in routines and schedules play out and why some work really well for some, and some maybe not so much.

Lori Hayungs:

Exactly. So thank you for joining us here at The Science of Parenting. Remember to subscribe to our weekly audio podcasts on Apple, Spotify or your favorite podcast app. Watch the show each week on video, on Facebook, and every once in a while you can join us live where we might take your comments and questions.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So please come along with us as we tackle the ups and downs, the ins and outs, and the research and reality all around The Science of Parenting.

Narrator:

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 questions and comments to [email protected] 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 nondiscrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext