I am so very privileged to have such an amazing and beautiful son. I love you so much Sammy, that I don’t even mind when you wake me up in the middle of the night needing cuddles. Because I LOVE cuddles with you. Except for the time you dreamed you were weeing & peed all over me… Not so much then….
Let me come right out and say it, my dog is not Lassie.
Not even a little bit. Not. Even. Close. But she is mine, and I love her to distraction, even if she is naughty, even when she barks like a savage beast at people & frightens the life out of them. She’s still my baby, and part of my family. We’ve gone to puppy school, we’ve gone to manners, we’ve gone to agility (and still do, its our ‘special time’, just Pips & me) and yet, she still fails to be a super dog. But thats OK, it just illustrates that everyone, people and dogs,are individuals. That our imperfections make us who we are and make us beautiful. Most dogs are not super dogs, most are just ordinary dogs, and many have some kind of hang ups or issues, mostly our own doing sadly, and often just because that is our own perception- they’re just being dogs, humans are the ones who reckon bones should not be buried in the yard nor shoes chewed by bored canines. And kids are the same, unique individuals, with their own personalty quirks and short attention spans.
So, to be brief: things I have learned from dogs about kids
keep it short
keep it fun
keep it simple
finish on a high, with them wanting more, rather than pushing too long and losing the fun or waiting for a mistake.
Be patient (even tho some days this takes superhuman effort, I promise that it will be worth it).
Repeat to remember (boring, but true)- let them practice new skills.
Give them the gift of time. Time to be kids, time to dawdle, time to run, time to climb, time to draw, sing or dance, time to get frustratingly messy & wreck all your clean washing.
listen to them- and I’m not just talking about words, I’m talking about body language and expression, if they look uncomfortable, or are clingy, take a moment to ask them if they’re OK. IF they need you, then give them you, if your kid is clingy, its probably not likely that ignoring them will make them magically independent, it will probably just make them more upset & escalate a bad mood. Remember, they are all different, just because one person’s kids is outgoing & doesn’t fuss on their own doesn’t mean yours has to be as well.
Make sure you schedule in ‘special time’. It doesn’t need to be a lot, but make sure they know that they will have your undivided attention for a period of time, and make that time FUN! Let them do the choosing of activity, clothes (who cares if the go out in their batman PJ’s, I mean, all the kids will be so jealous!) etc.
Don’t think that ‘toughing it out’ will work, kids (and dogs) are all different, while some might learn & embrace changes, others will develop fear responses, which is not good.
Reward based training does work more effectively than punishment based training. And I’m not talking treats & toys, I’m talking enthusiasm, cuddles & praise.
Praise the effort, not the person- don’t go around saying your kid (or dog) is more special or clever than everyone else, just tell them that they did a REALLY great job and that you are proud of their efforts. Even when they don’t quite hit the mark, encourage them to keep trying, and that their efforts are worthwhile. After all, if someone you admire tells you you are doing something wrong and not encouraging you, you are probably more likely to give up before you get it.
Everyone needs quiet time sometimes, and everyone needs time to yell and run about. Everyone gets stressed out, overwhelmed or hyperactive sometimes, its how we show them how to cope with it that’s important. Give them a chill out zone.
Give them lots of cuddles and make sure they know how much you love them. Always.
NEVER leave kids & dogs alone together. I don’t care how good your kid is, or how good your dog is, it only takes a small miscalculation and a microsecond for an accident to happen, a step on the tail or paw, a finger in the eye, a pencil in the ear and it all ends in tears, and sadly, often ends permanently for the dog. Just don’t people! TEACH your kids how to behave around dogs, and teach them to LISTEN to dogs by watching their body language and respecting their boundaries.
And I guess we should learn to do that with our kids as well, treat them with respect, and they will learn to treat others with respect.
And finally, it is your duty and your PRIVILEGE to teach your children (furry or not) how to navigate this great big world. Nobody was ‘born knowing’ how to behave, or what the rules are, that’s a Mummy & Daddy’s job, not a kids job.
Life is short. Running makes it seem longer.
this is so very, funnily, sadly true…
Video producer and father of four, Nathan Ripperger, has caught himself saying the darndest things to his kids. It’ just another day in the life of a parent, only Nathan decided to illustrate his most ‘introspective’ quips.
The series has become so popular that it has spawned a series of prints (8 x 10 and 16 x 20) that you can purchase from Ripperger’s Etsy Store. You can also view larger versions of each illustration on Nathan’s Flickr profile.
Now for the parents out there, what’s the darndest thing you’ve said to your kid?
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Well the morning run was hard work. Lead legs, stiff and painful lower back (hence the lead legs) and just not that impressive really. It was especially hard to get out the door.
But you know what? It was fantastic because I DID get out the door, and I may not have broken any records (even my own modest PB’s) for distance or speed, but I got out there and did it, so its a win. And I got to run in the beautiful Maleny countryside, another win.
Some days are just like that, hard bloody work. Some days I don’t even make it to the front door, with this that and Mr 3 clinging on crying that he doesn’t want me to go out, EVER (contrary little bugger that he is, happy enough to amuse himself unless I appear to be getting on with my own work, or god forbid enjoying myself, then desperately needs my full and undivided attention). But its OK not to get out the door sometimes, its OK not to be 100% 100% of the time. Heck, its good for you to have a quiet day every now and then, power down & rest, gather to reboot. Take these opportunities when you can! we’re all so busy nowdays, multitasking, running hither and thither like chooks with our heads cut off, it can be quite daunting just to slow it down, take it in and do one thing at a time. Especially with littles demanding and needing our very souls every single minute of every single day. So sometimes we get to do our thing, sometimes not. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t get to train, just keep plugging away, doing it when you can. It will get better.
Just don’t forget, to take some minutes, every day, just for YOU. and do what YOU like doing. Read, write, draw, paint, sing, dance, run, jump, play or just veg out, you need it, and you deserve it.
Oh, and, I just have to say, that I am blessed that I get to go for a run in this beautiful place. and that I am blessed just to get out the door by myself, in the fresh air every now and again. Thank you daddy, for looking after the little while I gather myself, I needed that.
A snippet of what the kids have been up to in March.
This months theme was ‘me’, and the kids built a book about themselves. Class time was devoted to different body parts and what they can do (eg. hands, feet, heads, next week will be bodies). Lots of writing, drawing, some beautiful colouring in and quite a few stickers were involved! We also read books with the group as a closing activity to tie in with the days theme and activities.
For the fundamental movement skills we practiced kicking, throwing and catching and obstacle courses. We also had a great game of football with the kids as a warm up for the mums before their exercise session. A lot more of the adult warm ups will involve games with the kids, so everyone is participating- also, its lots of fun!
Here are a couple of pictures from Sam’s ‘me’ book. I will post up pics of what the other kids have been up to in the next week or so.
Train Your Brain
By Simon Usborne
‘We don’t need to be told that exercise is good for us. We know that it combats cholesterol, we know boosts our hearts and we know it stops the pounds from piling on. But, beyond the obvious physical benefits of a good cycle, run or swim, a growing body of evidence suggests that getting breathless can also build the brain.
“Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain,” which will be published later this year, shows how even regular brisk walks can boost memory, alleviate stress, enhance intelligence and allay aggression. John Ratey, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston and the book’s author, says that exercise stimulates our gray matter to produce what he calls “Miracle-Gro” for the brain. “I can’t understate how important regular exercise is in improving the function and performance of the brain,” he says. “It’s such a wonderful medicine.”
If the mere thought of trudging round ice-bound playing fields at school was enough to bring you out in a cold sweat, the idea that exercise makes us happy might sound perverse. But, beyond the (potential) mood-lifting effects of fresh air and scenery, evidence suggests that pounding the pavement can also change the way our brains work to make us happier, or even stave off depression. “Exercise is as good as any anti-depressant I know,” Ratey claims.
Last December, scientists from Yale University wrote in the journal Nature Medicine that regular exertion affects the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for mood. Tests on mice showed that exercise activated a gene there called VGF, which is linked to a “growth factor” chemical involved in the development of new nerve cells. Tests show that this brain activation lifts a person’s mood. Participants in one recent German survey were asked to walk quickly on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day over a 10-day period. At the end of the experiment, researchers recorded a significant drop in depression scores. Scientists are now working on a drug that mimics the effects of the VGF gene to market it as an alternative to conventional antidepressants.
If, by around 4pm, it feels as if a stressful day at work has turned your brain to blancmange, it might not only be due to overwork or a shortage of double espressos. We respond to stress in the same way our ancestors did — by adopting a “fight or flight” response. Adrenalin and other hormones are released into our bloodstreams and our muscles are primed for response. The problem is that, these days, stress is more likely to be brought on by a tricky PowerPoint presentation or a job interview than an attack by marauding lions, so the toxins that build up for a physical response have no outlet. The results can be good; the cardiovascular system is accelerated and we can work harder (for a while, at least), but others are not so good; stress slows down the gastrointestinal system and reduces appetite, and can overexcite the brain, fuzzing our thought. By responding to or anticipating stress with fight (kickboxing or judo, say) or flight (30 minutes on the treadmill, say, or 50 lengths of the pool), blood flow to the brain is increased, allowing the body to purge the potentially toxic by-products of stress. According to Ratey, exercise also helps in the long term. “It builds up armies of antioxidants such as Vitamins E and C,” he says. “These help brain cells protect us from future stress.”
Observers of sports might refute the claim that exercise leads to greater intelligence — and they would be partly right, says Ratey. “Exercise doesn’t make you smarter, but what it does do is optimise the brain for learning.”
Physical activity boosts the flow of blood to the part of the brain that is responsible for memory and learning, promoting the production of new brain cells. Several schools in the U.S. and the Netherlands have taken note. Pupils at Naperville Central High School near Chicago, for example, start the day with a fitness class they call “Zero Hour PE”. Equipped with heart monitors, they run laps of the playground, and teachers say exam results have soared since the keep-fit initiative kicked off.
Meanwhile, in Amsterdam, a test involving 241 people, aged 15-71, compared physical activity with the results of cognitive tasks. The researchers documented improved results among people who were more active, especially those in younger age groups.
Yet more research suggests that exercise boosts intelligence in the very, very young. Experiments on rats at the Delbrck Centre for Molecular Medicine in Berlin showed that baby rats born to mothers who were more active during pregnancy had 40 percent more cells in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for intelligence. If the same is true in humans, we can expect Paula Radcliffe’s baby, Isla, to be a genius; Radcliffe was training for the New York marathon until the day before she went in to hospital to be induced — and won the race just nine months after giving birth.
A few rounds with a punching bag or a game of squash are great ways to release pent-up aggression, but exercise does more than “get it out your system,” says John Ratey. “People assume exercise reduces aggression by burning energy. In fact, exercise changes your brain so you don’t feel aggressive in the first place.”
The frontal cortex is the part of the brain that decides whether you throw a punch or take something on the chin. Reduced activity in the region, a trauma or abnormal development can result in an inability to control violent urges. “This area makes us evaluate the consequences of our actions,” Ratey says. “It’s the part of the brain that puts the brakes on when the ref makes a terrible decision and you want to beat him up.” Exercise increases activity in that area, boosting rational thought, which makesus less likely to lash out.
Most of the competitors at the annual World Memory Championships could hardly be described as the epitome of physical fitness but, according to Ratey and other scientists in the field, a good workout does much to boost recall, especially as we clock up the years.
“When we’re exercising, we’re using nerve cells in the brain which help build up what I call brain fertilizer,” he says. Ratey is talking about new research that suggests exercise increases blood flow to the part of the brain responsible for memory, and improves its function. In MRI scans on mice, conducted last year by neurologists at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, the animals were shown to grow new brain cells in the dentate gyrus, which is affected in age-related memory decline.
Research on humans is ongoing but Ratey is convinced that physical activity has a similar effect. He says: “Exercise does more than anything we know of to boost memory.”
Smokers keen to quit cigarettes probably won’t celebrate the news that exercise could be the key to a cigarette-free life. But research by British scientists suggests that as little as five minutes of brisk walking can reduce the intensity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. In the tests, researchers asked participants to rate their need for a cigarette after various types of physical exertion. Those who had exercised reported a reduced desire to smoke. “If we found the same effects in a drug, it would immediately be sold as an aid to help people quit smoking,” Adrian Taylor, the study’s lead author at the University of Exeter, said last year.
The principle is that exercise can stimulate production of the mood-enhancing hormone dopamine, which can, in turn, reduce smokers’ dependence on nicotine. “Dopamine works by replacing or satisfying the need for nicotine,” Ratey explains.
Whether the findings will lead office-based smokers to dash out for a jog remains to be seen. After all, you wouldn’t want to get addicted to exercise.
How Much Do You Need?
You don’t have to become a marathon runner to benefit your brain. The mainstay of exercise is simple, brisk walking, Professor Ratey says.
You’ll feel the benefit even from a 30-minute walk. “That’s what people need to be doing as a minimum, ideally four or five times a week. If you want to do more, then great.”
Professor Ratey also recommends interval training — really pushing yourself hard for between 20 and 30 seconds while running, cycling or swimming, so that you are momentarily exhausted.
Do, say, two minutes of walking, 30 seconds’ sprinting, then two minutes of walking again. It doesn’t have to be a lot for a long time, but you will really notice the difference. “The side effects on the body aren’t bad either — I lost 10 pounds in no time,” Professor Ratey says.’
to view the original article: http://johnratey.typepad.com/