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!

 

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Asking the Right Question in Relationships

Image courtesy of 89studio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of 89studio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I am working on a member survey for one of my favorite nonprofits and it has occurred to me that many times, whether in our jobs or our lives, we are asking the wrong question.

Why do we do that?

Is it fear of the answer, or is it a failure to think it through and determine what information we are truly seeking? Continue reading

Parental Abuse

 

Angry BoyThere is not a clear-cut management parallel in this post. Punishment and abuse of children are in the news lately, and this is a completely different, but related slant on the issue.

Recently I was in a supermarket, rolling cart peacefully down the frozen food aisle when I witnessed something disturbing.

A young mother was pushing a cart full of groceries with her son in the seat of the cart, facing her. Evidently, the young man either took exception to something she decided to buy or to something he wanted and she decided not to buy.

As I walked near them, he started to beat her.

Continue reading

Using Your Parental Toolbelt

Child with toolbeltWhen I started this blog, I was systematically listing the parallels I perceive between parenting and management. They are many and varied, but after talking with a young mother of two the other day, I thought this one was definitely worth re-visiting. This is basic advice I would give any couple, new parents or parents to be.

In every job, there are a few basic tools.

As a title insurance escrow officer, I made it my business to make the closing an educational process. In the 80’s that was a rather risky thing to do, because I was closing adjustable rate mortgages with steep initial buy downs that lacked caps on the negative amortization. Those things eventually changed, but it did not change the fact that even when the government enacted 125% caps on negative amortization and 1 or 2% caps per year on how much the payment could adjust; buyers were still going to be in for a payment shock. I explained that their payment could go up hundreds of dollars between one year and the next, exclusive of what taxes did independently of their mortgage. They were still blinded by house lust and signed away. We all know what happened a few years later when interest rates went higher than we had ever seen them go before.

What does this have to do with parenting, you ask? Here’s what I learned that I took home with me. “Invest in the hard stuff up front and the way will be easier later.”

Well, that sounds pretty darned obvious, doesn’t it? But it isn’t easy. Just as it isn’t easy to save up a down payment large enough to avoid paying extra for mortgage insurance or interest buy downs, or picking a house that isn’t your dream home because it is the one you can really afford with only one income; it isn’t easy to do the hard stuff up front with your kids.

Why?

Continue reading