Pets, Parallels and Principles

Indy, Cloud, & Murray

“There are many parallels between training dogs and raising children.”

I was reminded of this wisdom as my grown daughters have married and brought “fur babies” into their homes, both as puppies and as a slightly older rescue. The clarity and consistency of instruction that is required to make a dog feel safe, secure, loved, and well-behaved are often the same as required by young children, and for the very same reason.

When we feel safe and loved and our basic needs are met, we are able to perform to our highest potential.

Each dog has had its own individual needs and behaviors and as a mom of grown children, it has been fascinating to me to see our daughters applying many of the strategies and principles we used with them as they were maturing into toddlers.

  1. Lots of love and affection. Keep in mind, each child has his or her own love language and it is your job to figure out what it is and use it so that they are able to interpret and internalize the love you are expressing.
  2. Clear rules and boundaries. If you can’t explain it in a simple sentence, then don’t use it with your toddler. You don’t have to explain things to dogs, but it is difficult to remember rules that don’t have inherent logic, so why put yourself through that pointless mental exercise?
  3. Consequences. Express them simply, then apply them in a consistent manner. Children and dogs are all about precedent, so once you bend or break a rule, it is twice as hard to ever enforce again.
  4. Rewards. Yeah, this is the good part! Catch them doing something right and reinforce it with rewards. It works with dogs to train them and with kids to teach them a fundamental rule of life and society… Every action and decision they will ever make will have consequences, whether good or bad, and the good ones are more fun.
  5. Adequate levels of activity. Dogs and kids need to play to expend physical energy, promote good growth and socialization, and you get to share in the joy of their exuberant celebration of life. Both species suffer when there is not enough play in their daily routines.
  6. Realistic expectations. Believe it or not, this one often ties back to #5 in a big way. Whether you are dealing with a child or a dog, stress, pent-up energy, or over-stimulation will never make either easy to deal with and you need to be the parent or owner who anticipates, prepares, and then reacts fairly when difficulties arise.

You will think of many more parallels, and I hope you use them to your advantage so that the babies in your life, whether furry or not, grow to be confident, socially adept, and capable of loving you back as much as you love them!

 

_____________________________________

Making Moments Memorable

The Power of MomentsMy husband, a customer service expert, is adept at finding great sources of information that make very complex subjects more understandable. He recently shared “The Power of Moments” by Chip & Dan Heath, and I was struck not only by its applicability to a current nonprofit project I am working on, but how it validated “Rites of Passage for Your Children.” Continue reading

Considering the Second Child

A friend asked me the other day if the memory of the pain of childbirth goes away. I was kind of surprised and asked why he wanted to know.

“We are thinking about a second child, and I wondered if women just forgot the pain or blocked it somehow to make it possible to go through that again,” he said. Continue reading

2016 Election – What Do I Tell the Kids?

Election 2016Many people will be blogging about this, and they will come from many different perspectives. Everything from bullying, to racism, to sexism will be pulled out, examined ad infinitum, and tossed back into the whirling chum that is our media coverage. People will display an array of emotions, and some people who would have hesitated to air negative and acrimonious feelings and opinions in the past may feel this is the time to let it all out.

Just for a moment, take a breath with me and think about the children.  Continue reading

Blasting Brattiness

angry childI have been writing this blog for a long time, and over the years I have avoided the word “brat,” when referring to children.

I didn’t have a specific reason for that avoidance, other than the queasy feeling I get in my gut when unilaterally grouping a large number of misbehaving children under one label. Continue reading