Betty and Doniese

Family Life Instructors at Avera McKennan

Doniese Wilcox:

As a child development and family relations major at South Dakota State University, I knew I wanted to work in the childcare education field after my first human development course. And now I have been working with children and families in various settings ranging from preschool to parent education for more than 35 years. I love my job as a Certified Family Life Instructor at Avera McKennan because I have the opportunity to work with both children and adults in diverse situations. Some days I might be teaching babysitting courses and others I might be presenting a puppet show to children to educate them on burns. Every day is different and I love that.

My husband and I have three grown daughters and we are the proud grandparents to two young grandsons. In my spare time I enjoy reading, baking, sewing, traveling and relaxing with our family cat, Callie.

Betty Barto-Smith:

I believe that parents are a child’s first and most important teachers, so I am happy to be providing knowledge as a Certified Family Life Educator at Avera McKennan. With a BSN from the University of Texas at Arlington and graduate work in human development at SDSU, I have been working in parent/family education for more than 20 years. Having children of my own really helped me see how important the first years are in a child’s development and how choices parents make can direct their child’s behavior. I love helping parents understand ways to encourage their child’s growth and development.

I have three grown sons and one grand-dog, a black lab, and she and I are best buds. In my spare time I enjoy bicycling, reading and cooking.

Author Archive | Betty and Doniese

Understanding Your Child’s Temperament: Sensitivity

There’s probably nothing more frustrating to a parent than to be in a hurry to get somewhere (and aren’t we always in a hurry to get somewhere?!) only to have a child who melts down because his socks feel wrong. Seriously, how wrong could socks possibly feel? Read More »
Child Development · McKennan

Understanding Your Child’s Temperament: Quality of Mood

What is the first thing you do when a small child looks up at you and breaks out in a big grin? Typically we grin back at him. This interaction is important for a child even though the adult responds with hardly a thought. Read More »
Child Development · McKennan

Understanding Your Child’s Temperament: Persistence

While watching my toddler grandson try to insert an octagonal shape into a circular shape-sorter slot, I was reminded of the persistence trait. He was determined to make the piece fit even though he was not being rewarded for these attempts. Read More »
Child Development · McKennan

Understanding Your Child’s Temperament: Intensity of Expression

Ever notice how some kids can stub a toe and cry for half an hour while another can fall and bloody his nose, but just gets up, wipes his nose and goes on as if nothing happened? These would be examples of the opposite extremes of the intensity temperament trait. Read More »
Child Development · McKennan

Understanding Your Child’s Temperament: First Response

I observed a group of kids playing the other day and commented to one of the moms how wonderful it is to see a group of little ones playing so well together. “It hasn’t always been that way. When we first joined this group, my son, Jackson, wouldn’t have anything to do with the other kids. Read More »
Child Development · McKennan

Understanding Your Child’s Temperament: Distraction Level

Distractibility refers to how easily one can be drawn off task or how much concentration he can apply to the task at hand. Some children may be right in the middle of something interesting and their attention gets pulled away by something else entirely. Read More »
Child Development · McKennan