Parenting Lessons from Puppy Kindergarten

parenting lessons from puppy kindergartenAbout a year ago we took our new puppy Baja to Kindergarten. I knew the class would be good for him, but I really wanted to go so that Mr. Eco Incognito and I could learn how to be good dog parents. Little did I know how much it would apply to my quickly growing toddler, too!

Now that Hannah has fully entered the Todzilla years, she acts more and more like a puppy each day. She’s chewed a bunch of household items, peed on the floor, and dashed out of my reach at any chance. I realize that we had to go through all this so that she could learn her boundaries. After all, she’s just like my husband and he won’t learn how not to cross the line until he plays jump rope on it. Truthfully, it’s been entertaining, intriguing, and stressful. (Let’s not forget that I generally wear Audrey while this all takes place.) I didn’t have much experience with spirited kids before Hannah came along, so I feel that my parenting style is mostly triage.

What can I do, this minute, to get through the day?

Well, it may or may not be wrong in the long run, but I’ve been treat training Hannah. We walk through the backyard on a leash and then I offer her biscuit bits at random intervals. Ok, that’s not true at all. The version of “treat training” that I do with my kid is to let her have frequent access to food, to participate in and learn how to procure her snacks, and to bribe the heck out of her to get her to sit in the car seat without screaming. I feel like it’s good for Hannah because she is very motivated by food. I’ve realized there is a reason that she flocks to certain kids and parents in group settings. She smells their food! She is just like a puppy!

Being the concerned, over-researching parent that I am, I questioned my judgement until I found a credible source that suggested something similar. Dr. Sears said to make kids an ice cube tray of portioned, healthy snacks to offer throughout the day. It works perfectly with what Hannah likes, so I’m all for it. If she’s hungry, she’ll eat. If not, she’ll eat later.

I think that toddlers, like puppies, are just motivated by instincts to survive. They will chew through walls (fact) or dig through leaves (fact) in search of nourishment. Now that I’ve got a great list of suggested snacks for my kids thanks to my Facebook page, I’m happy that we’re all eating healthy foods. It doesn’t really matter to me if it takes all day to do it. I’ve also realized that, like a puppy, Hannah will turn down a snack 8 times at breakfast only to guzzle it down two hours later. We don’t go overboard on variety any more.

Once our food needs are fulfilled, everything else falls into place. We have fun being active and we sleep better. Plus, we all wag our proverbial tails when Dada gets home and he couldn’t be happier.

Dr. Sears recommends snacks like this for kids:

Carrots with hummus
Trail mix

Read More from Dr. Sears:

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