Kids, Pets, & Life Lessons

Say hello to the newest member of our family, Angel!

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Angel the Guinea pig has quickly found a soft spot in each of our hearts. In fact the first night in our home all 3 kiddos slept by the cage, it was precious.

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And for the first week our son slept next to the cage which resides in his room. He officially has a roommate! See, he has been begging for a roommate ever since we brought home our youngest daughter and the girls started sharing a room. He felt left out because mommy and daddy are roommates, the girls are roommates, but he was lacking a roommate. Finally, the problem has been solved. Lol!

But let’s be honest, that first week, or even month, with a new pet is amazing but then the novelty wears off a bit. And that is when the life lessons begin!

 

 

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Life Lessons Kids learn by having a pet…..

Responsibility:

Having a pet is fun and they are very cute and cuddly but they are also a lot of work. Having a pet teaches children that their needs will not always come first (what an invaluable life lesson!) they need to consider the needs of the pet. For example, the kids were blaring music upstairs and then they took into consideration the Guinea pig’s little ears and they moved the CD player to another room and turned it down. They are learning empathy and compassion. They are learning that their pets rely fully on them to provide for their every need. They are learning responsibility.

Commitment:

It is important for the children to learn that they have made a commitment to care for this pet for the rest of its life. There is no returning it to the store because they don’t like the noises it makes at night, or because they would rather go play with their friends instead of cleaning up after it, or because it is misbehaving, etc. Each of these reasons is an opportunity for the child to grow, to work on their problem-solving skills and to manage their time wisely (when to schedule time to clean/feed/play with pet). Bottom line, once a child makes a commitment they need to follow through with that commitment and this is a very valuable life lesson.

Consequences:

It is vital that children learn that their actions have consequences. If they do not feed the pets they will starve, if they leave chocolate out and the dog eats it he will become very ill, if the Guinea pig’s cage isn’t cleaned weekly then the room will smell, if the cage is left open the Guinea pig will escape, etc.

How to deal with Loss:

As a mom I want to do everything to protect my children from anything that may hurt them, even their own feelings, but that would be doing them a disservice as a mom. Which is why having a pet is the perfect way to address the fact that everything has a lifespan, there is a circle of life, and everything will die. Though the process can be a difficult one it is good to have the lines of communication open and discuss the good times had with the pet, and how much joy the pet brought into your lives.

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We recently lost our cat and our entire family found comfort in the happy memories we shared. And we all agreed that we would rather have had her in our lives for the limited time she was here then to have never had her in our lives at all. The pain of losing her, though intense, was worth it in order to have all the love and attention she brought into our lives during her time on this planet. And learning how to handle the strong emotions that come with loss is another invaluable life lesson!

Do your children have pets? What other life lessons would you add to the list?

Raising Responsible Kids

With summer just around the corner it can only mean one thing, Summer Reading Program!  My kiddos get so excited to see what the theme for the summer reading program is and the fun prizes they can win. Not to mention all the fun adventures to be had in a book!

And this year is extra special because we have a full-fledged reader among us, in addition to my husband and I, our 1st grader can read.  This is nice because it gives mom and dad a break. She can read to her younger siblings and she also models superb quiet time with a book. It is my hope that her younger brother and sister will follow her lead and one day naptime/quiet time will be reading time. But with 3 kiddos each checking out 10+books/items from the library how is one to keep up with all those?

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Well, I think I have come up with a fool-proof (hopefully) plan, Reading Responsibly Tubs!!  

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To make a Reading Responsibly Tub you will need:

  • 2 cups of coffee (for mom, optional)
  • 1 Tub (we used Rubbermaid tubs from Meijer’s, cost $2 a piece but I am pretty sure you can find them at most stores)
  • 1 pocket from kiddo’s old pants (we have enough around our house but you could get some at a thrift shop or garage sale)
  • Glue Dots
  • Fun stuff to decorate the tub with like: Buff paint, Glitter and Glue, Foam adhesive pieces, Stickers, you name it, just not washable markers because guess what? They will wipe right off.

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How to assemble the Reading Responsibly Tub:

  • Let kiddos decorate their tubs as they please.
  • Cutout pocket and use glue dots to place pocket on tubs.

 

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Here comes the responsibility part….

As soon as the kiddos arrive home with their books, CDs, etc. from the library they go directly into their own tub. In addition to the items they checked out their library card (all 3 of our kiddos have their own library card, yes, even our 2-1/2 yr. old…this is a superb way to start teaching responsibility from a young age….when given the proper guidance) and receipt with the names of the items checked out and when they are due back goes into the pocket.

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Fast-forward to a week later and it is time to go back to the library. Have kiddos take out their receipts and depending on their age; have them either count how many books need to go back and how many are in their tub, or, if you have a reader they can simply check off the books that are in their tub.  If there are any items missing the child is responsible for locating them.  We have a new rule in our home, if you do not return ALL items the next week you will not be able to checkout anything in the future until that/those items are located. And if there are fines that occur they can work off their fine by going above and beyond their chores and helping around the house.

A library card is a magnificent way to teach children how to be responsible!

Here are some additional sites I came across that have great suggestions for raising responsible children.

http://www.parentfurther.com/resources/enewsletter/archive/raising-responsible-kids

http://www.parade.com/features/doing-whats-right/raising-responsible-kids.html

http://www.examiner.com/article/parenting-toddlers-to-teens-tips-to-raising-responsible-kids

If you have any tips or resources, stories, experience, etc. please share

 

 

 

 

http://www.amamasstory.com/2013/04/mama-moments-mondays-link-up_8.html