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!

 

_____________________________________

Grief, Anger & Pain – How Can You Help?

“Anger can be grief unexpressed.”

I read that somewhere recently and thought, “Wow, I never really thought about it that way.” I knew that anger is often linked to fear, but didn’t intuitively link it to grief. Most of us know that anger is a stage of grieving before you reach acceptance, but what if you or a friend or family member simply gets stuck there. Is there an appropriate time limit to mourning?

The answer is no.

I recently saw a lovely video about helping your grieving loved ones and knew I had to share it with you.

Check it out at Refuge in Grief’s video: How to Help a Grieving Friend. There are Spanish and English subtitles you can choose if you need them, and it was a brief and lovely way to convey some very important information.

If I were grieving, I would hope that the person trying to comfort me had seen this video, and if I was comforting someone, I would be glad I had seen it.

Take a moment and check out the awesome power of acknowledgment. It will feel awkward at first; I won’t kid you about that, but it really can help that person you love or care about.

Be radical.

Let things hurt and acknowledge that it hurts instead of trying to fix it, cure it, or argue those you love into happiness.

You can do it, and so can I…so let’s make a choice to handle pain, grief, and sadness differently and start today.

 

Being The Adult

canstockphoto44198158LenaRoAdulting is one of my favorite “new” words. It seems to capture the essence of watching our grown children taking on the responsibilities that we used to take care of for them (so seemingly effortlessly). We see them discover that being an adult is hard, frustrating at times, and just when your kids think they have it covered, that inner teen can pop out to remind them that they aren’t there quite yet. 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