Children, Families and Finances


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Teaching Confidence

To build their own skills, children need to have the opportunity to experience feeling capable and able.

From infancy through adolescence, parents can help their children grow to be confident by modeling, monitoring for safety, providing an appropriate environment, teaching skills, setting boundaries and being encouraging.

This comes from doing the hard work themselves. Whether that means learning to walk by standing up, taking four steps, falling and crawling back to the chair to get up again, or studying for the SATs more than once, children have to be in charge of their own competence to build confidence.

Parents can be present to cheer their children on for a while, but as children grow, they need their own internal cheerleader to take over - for life.

You will find more information about children and adolescents at:

Source: , NDSU Family Science Specialist, 701-231-7450

Photo provided by Pixabay

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Being a Role Model Doesn't Have to be Complicated

Start small. If you make a habit of brushing your teeth with the bathroom door open and then talking about how clean your teeth feel, chances are your children will do the same with less prompting.

One family lucky enough to have two bathroom sinks calls “toothbrush party!” and all three youngsters gather with their dad to brush their teeth as a prerecorded two-minute song plays in the background.

“It’s a little messy” admits the father, “but if it gets all of our teeth clean in two minutes with no fussing, I am happy to wash the sinks.”

This parent is promoting a healthful habit by brushing with his kids and making it fun.

Source:, NDSU Family Science Specialist, 701-231-7450

Photo credit to Pixabay

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Separation, Divorce and Children in the Middle

Parents Forever covers three areas of help for families.

NDSU Extension, in cooperation with the University of Minnesota, offers “Parents Forever,” an educational program for families in transition, as an online class available 24/7 and as an in-person class in some areas of the state.

Parents Forever covers three areas of help for families:

  • Taking care of yourself
  • Taking care of your children
  • Being successful with co-parenting

All three areas are important for parents to learn about as they consider separation or divorce and the impact this transition will have on their children.Visit for more information on the Parents Forever program. Online and in-person class information is listed in the brochure.

Source: Kim Bushaw, NDSU Family Science Specialist, 701-231-7450,

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Top 10 Tips for 2-Year-Olds

Advice regarding 2-year-olds.

Click here for advice regarding 2-year-olds and hints about behavior parents may expect from them.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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The Period of PURPLE Crying

All too often, we see news reports of a parent, friend or relative who was caring for a young infant and has shaken the child, causing lifelong disabilities, seizures or even death.

The reporter generally quotes the adult as saying, “The baby just wouldn’t stop crying.”

The “Period of PURPLE Crying” is that time in a baby’s development between 2 weeks and 5 months of age where, at times, the crying can be nearly unbearable to the child’s parents or other caregivers.

The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome has resources to help parents and other caregivers understand their baby’s crying to alleviate the frustration that comes when a baby is crying frequently and the parent feels hopeless to help. Parents who are concerned about their baby’s crying are encouraged to check with their healthcare provider.  To find out what PURPLE stands for, watch Dr. Ronald Barr explain more at

Source: , NDSU Family Science Specialist, 701.231.7450.

Photo by Pixabay

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North Dakotans Learn about Mental Health, Alcohol Abuse, Farm Stress

North Dakota has the lowest number of overdose deaths per person but the highest number of bars per person.

These were among the statistics participants heard at the third annual Behavioral Health for Your Family and Community workshop that the North Dakota State University Extension Service hosted.

During the three-hour workshop, mental health professionals from Prairie St. John’s in Fargo discussed mental health in the state’s aging population, the prevalence of alcohol use and abuse in the state, and the stress that farmers, ranchers and their families are experiencing as the result of last year’s drought and low commodity prices. The presenters provided warning signs of these issues and helpful resources.

To hear the recorded workshop, go to or search mental health IVN, NDSU. Instructions are included if you want to receive a certificate after listening to the workshop.


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Touch Important to Babies

Research during the past several years tells us that babies cannot be spoiled by being held.

Infants are armed only with sounds to get our attention, so crying when they want to eat, or need a pat on the back, a clean diaper or some good company makes perfect sense. When we answer their calls quickly and attend to their needs lovingly, babies learn to trust their caregivers and their world. When infants need care, we handle them, we touch them, we hold them close.

Brain research continues to uncover more reasons we need to pay attention to the important role touch plays in child development, plus all of the other benefits of touch to babies, children and even grown-ups.

For additional information on parenting young babies and children, check out our website at For information on research about holding infants and the impact on genes, visit

Source: Kim Bushaw, NDSU Family Science Specialist, 701-231-7450,

Photo by Pixaby

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Work on Environmental Wellness as a Family

Wellness is an important topic for everyone in the family.

The areas of wellness most commonly referred to are emotional, intellectual, physical, work, social, financial and spiritual. To have wellness in all of these areas, many people feel that environmental wellness is necessary, too.

One of the ways we can work on family wellness is to consider our own environments. Environmental wellness encompasses not only the health of the whole planet, but also your own living space.

To get started on your home environment, do a quick assessment of your living space. Is it healthy for all of the people who live there? Do you store food properly and clean your dishes after each meal? Can you think of these chores in a different way? The time you take to team up and clean up after a meal is time to spend talking to other family members about their day.

Of course, you have many ways you also can improve the Earth’s wellness: reduce waste, recycle, reuse, renew old items. Save natural resources by turning off unnecessary lights, repairing drippy plumbing, opening and closing blinds to conserve heat and cooling, and turning off the water while brushing your teeth. These tiny steps add up to a healthier environment for everyone.

For more information on wellness, contact your local office of the NDSU Extension Service and ask about “Overdone, Practicing Wellness in Busy Families” classes. 

Source: , NDSU Family Science Specialist, 701-231-7450.

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Teach an Attitude of Gratitude


Here are some ideas on how to model gratitude from Zero to Three, an online resource for people who love and care for children ages zero to 3:

  • Show appreciation to your children. Appreciation can be an even more powerful motivator than praise.
  • Show appreciation for others. Never underestimate the power of your words and actions. You set a great example when you model kindness, generosity and gratefulness in your own everyday interactions.
  • Use the word “grateful.” Children need to learn what this new word means.
  • Share “roses and thorns.” Even young children can talk about what went well (roses) and what was hard about each day (thorns). It gives them, and you, too, a chance to vent a frustration and focus on what is good in life.
  • Emphasize presence over presents. You can make giving the gift of time and activities, such as a birthday picnic and trip to a local park, a habit, as opposed to giving “stuff.”
  • Talk openly about donations and other “good deeds.” You don’t have to have a lot of money to make a difference. If you have money in your budget to donate to a favorite cause, share this giving with your children.

People who are genuinely grateful most of the time tend to have a more positive outlook on life. This should be reason enough to help our children learn more about gratitude.

For more information and a list of recommended children’s books on being thankful, check out the Zero to Three website.

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Homework Help

Here are some tips to help your child do his or her homework:

Casually time how long your child actually takes to do the work. The rule of thumb for early grades is to multiply about 10 minutes per day times your child’s grade, on average. If your first-grader is working more than 10 minutes a night, every day, or your fifth-grader is spending more than 50 minutes each night on homework, you likely need to talk to the teacher.

Get to know your child’s teachers. Attend school conferences and read everything your child brings home, including the handbook. Learn what the teacher expects and is looking for in your child’s work. Ask questions and learn how to check on your child’s work.

Design a homework-friendly space in your home. This area needs good lighting, school supplies, and limited traffic and noise.

Schedule a regular time for homework. Right after school? After a snack? During free time? Observe what works best for your family and stick to the plan as closely as possible so it becomes a healthy homework habit.

Write your own lists, read your own books, do your own banking. If your children see that you, too, are working and thinking at the table, they will be more likely to stick with their homework. Adults can help best by asking good-quality questions, reading directions and helping students realize that they will be able to do the work with thought and practice. However, don’t do their homework for them. Children need to do their own homework.

Help your child with time and project management skills. A quick review of the backpack will help determine if this is a short or long homework night. Start with the hard homework and end with the fun or easier homework, when energy levels are depleted. 

For more tips on school kids (kindergarten through sixth grade) check out our Parenting Post newsletters. 

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