Parenting, Educators & Dog Training – Follow the same strategies for success

If you are a parent, teacher, or dog trainer, all of these responsibilities are fulfilled best by using similar strategies. 

Parents want their children to grow up safe, healthy, successful, and happy. Teachers want their students to be enthusiastic learners that also grow up to combine their academic skills with great character. Dog-trainers want the dogs they work with to have respectful manners while they feel the love of their owners. 

The framework for all three jobs is pretty much the same. 

Know what you want

Parents, what do you value the most, what are your non-negotiables, and what is the outcome you would like to see for your children.

Teachers, what do you want your students to learn academically? How do you expect them to behave in your classroom? What do you see as your responsibility to build character while they are learning the lessons in class?

Dog-trainers, you want to know what is allowed in the house and when you are out in the community. What is the personality of the dog and how can you balance their personality with what is acceptable for the owners and community.

Set your expectations

Parents want their children to know what the rules are in their family. They need to know if eating cookies before dinner is allowed or not allowed. What are the rules for electronics in the family, what are bedtimes and a whole host of other things depending on the age of the children?

Teachers want to know what their classroom rules are for the best learning environment for the subject they are teaching. Discussing them regularly and posting them in an area that can easily be seen for all students will be a good reminder of expectations

Dog-training is the same except they cannot understand the language you are speaking (though some dog owners believe they are able to understand). The dog must learn if you will allow jumping on you, getting on the sofa, begging at the table, etc.

Agree on consequences

Parents need to express what the consequences are for breaking the rules ahead of time and make them clear to everyone in the house. The expectations and consequences should apply to everyone in the home. Then parents will want to be consistent in applying the expectations and consequences.

Teachers will also want to be consistent with the application of consequences. Whatever our expectations are when applied fairly will be respected by the students. Knowing what to expect takes away the opportunity for manipulation or anxiety of the unknown.

Dog training is pretty basic. The act is committed and this is what happens. The dog learns to do things that result in what they are hoping for.

Recognize teachable moments

Parenting is not just about pointing out what is wrong. Teachable moments can be found when family members are living their values and demonstrating their good character. On the other side of this coin, when mistakes are made a teachable moment is about learning and not about punishment. Punishment is about what has happened in the past, consequences are the results (natural or logical) of the action, discipline is what is hoped for in the future. 

Teachers in the classroom do well to recognize when students have put forth the effort, worked with determination and have shown excellence. These are all teachable moments, just as much as when mistakes are made on a math problem and a student learns what they missed or overlooked. 

Dog training is all about rewards of attention, treats, and walks. If we are constantly yelling or hitting a dog for bad behavior they may begin to behave or not, but it would be out of fear. (so true for parenting and teaching too)

Honor the spirit

Parenting is hard. Between the responsibilities parents have, the costs of raising a family, what others want to tell us is the right way to do it, and the differences in parenting styles that we can have, we must take the time to celebrate all that we believe in and the growth of each family member in being their best.

Teaching is hard. Taking time to honor each other, celebrate successes, appreciating the potential in each student brings joyfulness and unity to the classroom. Each person in the classroom can be seen for the character and virtues they are showing.

Dog training is hard. It deserves having fun with your pet though and appreciating the service they bring to us, always there, excited to see us even if you were gone for just 15 minutes. They are a part of our family that holds no grudges, sees the good in us all the time, and forgives even when we step on their tail.

Real dog trainers can probably tell us more about how raising a dog is similar to raising children. I just know that it is similar, except NEVER crate your child. It just won’t be good for them or you. Do you see other correlations of parenting, teaching and dog training?

I help parents and teachers bring out the full potential and long term success in their children with workshops, seminars and personal coaching. I do not coach on dog training. Joe Van Deuren

Will you know if your child is being picked on?

How would you know if your child is the target of bullying?  Most of the time your child will not announce it to you, out of fear of embarrassment, belief that they can or must take of the situation or out of fear of retaliation.  Parents and teachers  need to be aware of changes in the attitude or conduct of a child so we can take action.

DistressIf we see a pattern develop with a child of being more anxious, especially about particular situations, there may be something happening that is not comfortable for them.  If they become anxious about going to school, scouts, a sport activity or any place where there are others around – they may be experiencing some aggression.  Please remember it need not be from just other young people.  There may be an adult that makes them uncomfortable.  I have seen this happen with adults (teachers / coaches) where a child was being treated with sarcasm that caused anxiety and academic issues.

Other ways of telling a child may be a target of aggression, include depression, sadness, or safety concerns.  Anytime there is a change in the personality, just be aware and take extra time with your child to talk.  What should you ask?  How do you approach this conversation?

Most of the time asking if they are getting picked on in school is not going to get a response that helps you understand what is happening.  Neither is asking how it is going in school today.  You most likely will get the “fine” answer or the “good” comment.  Our conversation must be ongoing, general  giving them the opportunity to feel safe telling us / without telling us.  Here is what I mean.

Children are not going to be in a rush to embarrass themselves by telling us that they are having relationship issues in school.  On a daily basis – know your child and who their friends are.  Do not interrogate, but ask questions that you can put the pieces together.  If you know that a child typically plays with Sally and then all of a sudden Sally is no longer in the picture – then that is a warning sign that there may be some relationship issues.
jw4Without becoming Jack Webb (do you remember that show?)  we can learn what is on their mind.  What to do at that point is the subject of a seminar I do for parents titled “What to do if your child is being bullied?”  This includes how to deal with your child, the school system (public or private) and with the parents of the aggressor.

If you have a specific issue I am available as an advocate or consultant in this subject.

Bully prevention: First step for – What if my child is the bully?

One of the hardest phone calls or face to face conversations a parent can have is the one from a teacher or a friend that accuses a child of being the aggressor (bully).  Just for the record, it is never a good idea for a parent of the targeted child to try to have that conversation with the parent of the aggressor.  One reason is that as soon as it begins, in the majority of cases, the defenses go up, the denials begin and the disbelief sets in.  Once those things happen, it is not likely that anything will happen besides hurt feelings at best.

At times though as a parent we recognize that our child is aggressive and may even have certain friends that have decided not to establish play dates for a while.  We may have recognized that they seem to pick another child out – even a sibling – and you may see the fear in the targets actions.  What should you do?

There is actually a lot that you can do, but the first step is take a deep breath.  You are not a bad parent and social skills come at different rates.  Some children take a little longer to develop appropriate behaviors. With careful consideration though, your child can develop the social and friendship skills required to overcome any past actions.

parenting confidenceHere is just one of many steps we can take as a parent.  No matter the age, have honest and serious conversations with your child.  If they are very young 6 and under the conversations will be about friendship. If they are 7 and above help them to understand just what bullying is and that it is not OK.   Many children may not fully understand that what they are doing is bullying.  

They have watched different sources of media that displays behavior that are aggressive.  They most likely have even seen us as their parents displaying aggressive, bullying behaviors and have learned that this is the way you react to situations.  They may be the target of bullying by others in the classroom or at home.  So many times we see children who are the target of sibling bullying or abuse – who become the aggressor (bully) at school or in other areas of their life.

If the child is older we may even be able to discuss with them that those who repeatedly are aggressive towards others grow up to having increased depression, anger and conflict with other adults including being far more likely to be convicted of crimes on one or more occasions.

Having this firm conversation with them is one of the first steps.  Included in the first steps though is not just this conversation – but must also include our love and caring for them to get them back on track.  Remember it is the behavior that we dislike – not the child.  As you talk and listen to them, listen for what needs they have that are not being filled and how they might be suffering also.  When a child or anyone demonstrates anger or aggression, generally we are reacting to our own fear of being hurt or not getting something that we desire or need.

Finding the answer to that question is part of helping our child grow into a peaceful person, both with themselves and others.

Mr. Joe Van Deuren is a recognized bully prevention expert that offers classes and private help for students, parents, teachers and schools who would like to create a culture of peace in their family, school or community.

Is Yelling Safe?

If more than half of all parents are yelling at their kids, what are the results?  Is yelling any different than physical abuse?  Here is an interesting interview that is based on research done at University of Michigan and Pittsburg.


Your Child is Feeling Anxious, Now What?

separation-anxiety-in-children-300x300In helping our child with any kind of anxiety that they may be feeling, first the child wants to know that we understand what they are feeling. The most important step as a parent is to listen to our child and ask questions about their feelings. Using our active listening skills by repeating back to them what we heard them say, determining their feelings and putting words to those feelings will be very helpful for the child to feeling understood.

The next step is to assure the child that they are not alone, others have similar feelings and you may even tell your child about a time in your childhood. Be careful though not to draw too many comparisons. Your experience and their experience are different and right now it is not about you. Assure your child that  the feeling is very bad and it is temporary – even if it does not feel that way now. The telling of your experience may end with an upbeat ending and how you were able to overcome your fear or anxiety.

Give them the support, encouragement and your own example. If we present ourselves as being very perfect to them, it may make them feel like they cannot live up to the bar you have set. This may be a cause of anxiety for them. As you model facing fears and coach your child, allow them to work at their pace. Pushing too hard can increase anxiety of trying to please while trying to suppress the fears.

Now the hard one.  Avoid giving too much reassurance.  The more reassurance you give by saying things like, “It is going to be OK.” When we are constantly reassuring, we are not giving them the opportunity to learn or gain the strength to cope with their own issues. Of course this is about balance, but reassuring them that they can use their coping skills to relieve the pressure they are feeling is a better way of helping them. will give them even more courage to be bold in overcoming anxiety.