I was talking with one of the other school moms this morning, and we were both singing the praises of our intrepid Girl Scout troop leader. She is like this dervish of glitter and badges and healthy snacks and perfectly organized Excel lists and always has every activity immaculately planned, plus she loves rescue dogs to boot. I mean, could we get any luckier?
I am co-leader, I guess you could say Vice Leader, and much like the Vice President I don’t do much. I offer moral support and occasionally hand out a band-aid, but that’s about it. But this other mom is very kind, and gave me the compliment that “you’re really good with kids.”
I got this once before, last year, and it always catches me off guard, because I feel like I am pretty much the worst person in the world with little kids. They are a complete bafflement to me. Last week I was helping with Field Day and some little girl’s hat fell into a bucket of water. I tried to console her, but she was beyond consolation.
She cried so hard she got a bloody nose, all while I stood there with my head cocked trying to explain that it’s just water while looking in vain for something to staunch the stream of effluvia. I felt little sympathy for her plight. She needed a little perspective, really. See? I’m a bad person. I also volunteered to stand on the sidelines at the jogathon with a big water mister to spray the kids in the face as they ran by, and I was malevolently cackling like an old man hiding in the bushes with a hose the whole time. (They loved it.)
The only reason I can fake it with any semblance of authenticity is because when I’m confused as to how to handle a situation, I usually revert back to my own area of expertise: dog training.
Screaming? Like barking for attention, it is ignored, as is begging, whining, and cajoling.
Both dogs and children who chase cats get a time out.
Food is useful as a reward, especially when given intermittently. Verbal praise is slathered on generously.
Mental and physical stimulation are essential components of avoiding destructive behavior.
We do our best to set up environments for success. We also keep expectations high and assume success.
No matter how frustrated I get, I never, ever hit.
I don’t do this because I’m some parenting expert who has ingeniously extrapolated the connection between dogs and kids. It was a technique born out of desperation because it was all I knew, and I just kind of stuck with it because it seems to work pretty well, crate training notwithstanding.
In retrospect, there is where I failed the little bloody nose kid, by skipping my Dog/Kid (Dig? Kog?) Behavioral Principles 101 and doing something completely ineffective with both 5 year olds and canids: resorting to reason. They do not listen to reason. And when we’ve gotten into a positive feedback loop of escalating unwanted behavior, any dog trainer worth their salt would have told me the same thing: Remove and Redirect. A popsicle would have probably solved the whole darn thing.
So, I’m riding the What Would Victoria Do wave until it stops working. I imagine this paradigm will fall apart by the teenage years, as I don’t recall any episodes where she had to deal with an unruly dog who talked back, then wrecked the car.