Friday, September 2, 2011

raising dogs vs raising children.

Lord help the squirrels when Claire is around. She saw one on the front porch when we got home today and, as you can see, was so excited about it that she stood on the end table and pawed at the window while whining like crazy. For a half an hour. Even after the squirrel was gone. Basically, Claire threw a temper tantrum. [Side note: I wonder what a squirrel smells like to a dog. It triggers the same kind of reaction that I have when I smell a cheeseburger. So, yes, what I'm saying is that if you see me hitting the window of a restaurant and whining, you'll know what I'm asking for.] The only thing that could get Claire to stop whining about the squirrel was something equally delicious: a marrow bone. When I'm craving chocolate and don't have any, my friends typically "distract" me by giving me something else that's yummy instead. There is much to be said about the power of distraction - I'm just saying!

I am guessing that a lot of the same techniques that people use to train dogs can translate to teaching children good behavior. I don't have any children, which may be painstakingly obvious by my previous statement. But let me give some examples in addition to the one above, and perhaps you'll find similarities too:

Potty training
Parents typically give some kind of reward to their toddler when they are learning that they can't spend the rest of their life in a diaper. Families that I have nannied for have used candy, stickers, and positive reinforcement charts. When I was potty training Claire, I used treats.

Good manners
Parents teach their children to say "please" when they want something. Once they use The Magic Word, they get what they have asked for. Claire gets what she wants once she sits or lays down.

Naps and bedtime routine
Young children behave better when they are well rested, so many parents implement a schedule of naps to help ensure that they have a pleasant child. (I behave better when I'm well rested, too). I have had to do this with Claire, as well. Nap time is in the middle of the day, bedtime is at 9pm. And when she misses a nap or stays up too late, she gets grumpy, has less patience, and forgets how to share her toys.

Security blanket
My grandmother made a blanket for me when I was born and I slept with it all through childhood - it made me feel safe, and I couldn't sleep without it. Most kids have a special toy or blanket that they snuggle up with and carry with them when they're growing up. As most of you know, Claire has her Blue Elephant. If it's not sitting on my bed when 9pm rolls around, she will search the house for it until she finds it. [I hope I can find another one, because this one is well loved and might need a replacement soon].

Playing nice is pretty important - for both children and dogs. Teaching methods may be different among parents, but the end result is hopefully the same: children/dogs cannot be aggressive when a friend takes their toy from them. Using their voice by talking/barking to indicate that they would like it back or that their friend may not take it because they were using it is fine - they are learning to be assertive. But no hitting (for kids), and no biting (for dogs).

Alright, so there are some examples for you. Let me hear your thoughts - do you see where I'm coming from? Yes? No? Maybe? For those of my followers who have children and dogs, what other similarities have you found while raising them?

1 comment:

  1. I also do not have children, but do have a dog and I work with children and their parents most days of the week. I believe that children, much like dogs, are a product of their environment. The laws of behavior are quite simple, but apparently baffling and complex to many parents of annoying children and dogs. Roxie and I are not miffed by these rules, unless there is a bird she can chase...then I just can't get her to listen, poor birds.