Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Is a pet in your family's future? Pets can be wonderful additions to your family. My niece was here last week, and she was so animated and happy as she shared photos of her two cats. My college age children were so eager to reconnect with our family dogs as they spent their college break back at our home. But pets are a big commitment and adding one to your household should be a carefully thought out decision. I did not grow up in a house with any pets, and now we share our home with two dogs. So I have lived on both sides of the fence (as a non pet family and a pet lover). Here are a few tips to consider before you hit the pet store or animal shelter.
1. Pets require time and attention. Families must agree that the work of having a pet is a shared responsibility. And responsibilities help children to learn and grow. It is not always fun to walk the dog, or feed the cat, but it must be done. And in life, this is a VALUABLE lesson. It is not fair to take on a pet and then ignore it or make it suffer from lack of attention. So only get a family pet if you all are committed to taking on the responsibilities that properly caring for a pet requires.
2. Pets can help your children cope with outside stress. Studies have shown that petting an animal can lower a person's blood pressure. I have seen this as I have watched my kids cuddle with their dogs after school, or on a bad day. Therapy dogs have a purpose and a family pet can have a similar purpose within your home.
3. Pets can bond you with your children. My husband always takes our dogs to play frisbee on Saturday morning, and my youngest daughter gets up almost every weekend to go with him. These mornings have become a special time for both of them enjoy, which is rare for a dad and teenage daughter. I never dreamed that this wonderful benefit would grow out of having a dog.
4. Pets help children understand the cycle of life. Pets die and life goes on. It is a painful process, but also a learning and growing experience. "Tis better to have loved and lost than have never loved at all" is a profoundly insightful quote from Shakespeare that brings this one home!
5. Pets are expensive. Do not adopt a pet if you are not financially able to care for it. It will require food, equipment, vet visits, and care if you travel. So don't make the mistake of getting a pet you cannot afford. It will be extremely difficult to give up a pet once you bring it home.
6. Pets should not be impulse purchases. Adults must consider all the circumstances within a household before committing to a pet. Getting a pet and then returning it because it didn't work out is not fair to the pet, or your children.
7. Adopting a pet can be very fulfilling. Many pets are looking for good homes. Do your research on the internet if you are thinking about a certain breed or type of pet. Maybe you can give a home to a pet that needs you as much as you want him/her. This is a powerful message for your children.
8. Pets need training. Teaching or training a pet can help build a child's confidence. You may discover you have a "dog whisperer" in your household. This can prove to be a very positive experience for your child. But whether it is you or your children training your pet, you all need to be consistent and know that a well trained pet is a pleasure, a poorly trained pet...well not so much.
So give it some thoughtful consideration, and if you decide to add an animal member to your household, I wish you the very best of luck--and keep a camera handy!
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
The Key to Parenting Success
By This is How We Grow Author, Dr. Christina Hibbert
We all want our children to rise to their full potential, to become contributing members of society, to treat us with respect. And all of that is good. But the most valuable thing I have learned in my many years of parenting is that parenting is more about the parent than the child. We can discipline our kids and tell them what to do, or we can model good behavior and show them who and how to be. As I write in my article, Parenting Success, “Parenting is more about the parent than the child. That’s why it’s called parenting and not childing”
Children learn best by example. Think about yelling. Have you ever found yourself yelling, “Stop yelling!” to your children? Does it make any sense at all? Do you ever find yourself, in a fit of frustration, trying to teach your child about controlling their emotions? How can you teach them something you can’t do well yourself?
I learned this in an intense way when my family went through one of our toughest times. In 2007, my brother-in-law died of skin cancer. Two months later, my sister suddenly died. They had two young sons, my nephews, and my husband and I inherited those two boys. I was also pregnant at the time with our fourth baby. Our new sons came to live with us, I gave birth, and went from three to six kids in a matter of weeks.
The years after these events were tough—for all of us. Between trying to create a new family, dealing with difficult new extended family members and courts as we tried to adopt, and simply trying to help us all heal, needless to say, I was overloaded. I was faced with heavy grief and postpartum depression. I was desperately trying to be there for my husband and kids, who were also struggling to make sense of it all. At times, it became too much. I would take out my frustrations on my family, complaining that my kids weren’t “helpful,” or “responsible enough.” Soon, however, I would realize—it wasn’t my kids’ fault they weren’t helping as much as I wanted them to. After all, they were also dealing with grief. Also, I hadn’t been communicating and teaching them effectively what I needed them to do because I had been so overwhelmed. They needed my instruction and guidance before I could hold them accountable. And they needed my example if any of us were to get through.
As I write in my new memoir, This is How We Grow ,** I had to model for my children how to “choose to grow, no matter what life throws your way.” Through the years that followed, I continually reminded myself that parenting is about being a good parent, and being a good parent is doing my own work, then teaching my kids how to do theirs. (Read my article, Parenting Success Skills: #1 Do Your Own Work First ) I reminded myself that if I wanted my kids to behave and to become their best, I had to do the same. I shared my emotions with the kids and invited them to share theirs with me. We talked often. We cried together. When I made mistakes, I apologized and showed them how I can change and do better. And they have learned to do the same.
Yes, parenting is a tough job. We all make mistakes and say and do things we later regret, but what matters is, we try. We show our children we are in this together—that we are also trying to be better, that we are practicing what we preach. We let them see some of our failures and struggles and emotions, and then we let them witness how we work things out. We model for them, and they learn from our example. This is the trick to good parenting. This is the key to parenting success.
Dr. Christina Hibbert’s Brand New Book, This is How We Grow,
is already an Amazon #1 Bestseller!
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This is How We Grow Book:
Parenting Success Skills: #1 Do Your Own Work First:
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
"This is How We Grow!"
Blog Hop 2013
Our art table offered them a chance to "bedazzle" the letters of their names with shiny jewels and glue. As they sat and concentrated on the work at hand, they were making comparisons to the other letters in their classmates names, "Look Christopher ends with an er, just like my name, Oliver!".
Real life experiences never fail to illicit a reaction of excitement and positive energy in these precious little children. My concern is that we-adults, are robbing them of these experiences. We are allowing their little brains to be pacified with electronic devises rather than stimulated with real experiences of creativity and problem solving. We are handing out I-pads during restaurant visits rather than crayons and paper and plugging them in for cartoons in the minivan for the short drive to school.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
I am about to let you in on a HUGE parenting secret...and I only learned it through trial and error over the course of many years! Scheduling is a key to parenting young children!
Young children learn through experience, and the more safe and secure you can make their world for them, the more safe and secure they feel. And you can achieve this through scheduling or patterning their days. The bonus is a child who feels safe and secure is able to learn better, and exhibit self control, and in general is much more pleasant to be around. There are many obstacles to following a schedule that allows for your young child to feel safe and secure. We all have busy calendars and high expectations and so we end up racing from here to there often times completely unaware as to how this chaos is affecting our young children.
If you want your young child to feel safe and secure and calm and peaceful, you must make it a priority to offer them a schedule and commit to keeping it. The more you can slow the pace and offer an easy, predictable, rational daily schedule for your child, the better it will be. You not only offer the child a world that they understand, but you also are developing important bonds of trust because you allow your child to count on a schedule and in turn they count on you and your word to deliver what you promise.
There will be plenty of time as they grow older to be out and about and enjoy many activities. But when they are young, make a commitment to them and their best interest to slow the pace. If you have a nanny, cooperatively work out a simple, daily schedule that meets your child's needs and then commit to following it on weekends, too. If your child is in daycare, make sure that you find out how the day is spent, and try to loosely pattern your days in a similar fashion. Young children need naps and playtime and require feeding and hygienic care--as they grow there will be plenty of time for enrichment opportunities. But while your children are young, embrace simplicity and help to bolster their confidence by offering them a simple routine rather than a chaotic and upsetting schedule.