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Friday, April 17, 2009

Animals and Kids, Kids and Animals


One of the best tools we have for teaching responsibility with our girls is animals.
When we first started out with Anna, she was just 5 and didn't know anything about how to treat an animal, or how to nurture a dolly. We decided back then the best thing was to get her dolls to learn on, and real animals to grow with.

I noticed right away that she started to blossom when given little responsibilities like feeding them or just making sure she was very careful with them.

The same has been true of all the girls, but Anna has a very special love for her animals.

She sometimes though struggles with the responsibility part, which brings me to what this post is about.

She had worked up to a level of being trusted to keep gates locked, knowing about how to feed, making sure water was clean and generally being in charge. That is, until she began to get a little lazy in that area. I started noticing food not being placed in the right container, water not being changed properly, and finally, not locking the gates.
Each time we would let her know that things had to change for the safety of the animals and because it was her responsibility. Each time she sincerely apologized and corrected the issue. But things weren't changing.

Four times last week I woke up to goats out of the yard playing in the driveway, on dad's trailer, and knocking over the feed barrels to help themselves. Four times I woke Anna and helped her remedy the situation, but it didn't seem to sink in that she needed to be more careful.

So, yesterday, it happened again, her response was sort of like, "oh boy, here we go again", she had that bored distant look of "talk to the hand cuz the head ain't listening"; so we took a little stronger action. We decided that she needed to be relieved of her responsibilities for a week. During that time Daddy and Sarah are caring for the animals. We are hoping this will help her to remember to be serious about her animal care. She took the initial shock with tears and sorrow, but quickly realized it was a natural consequence of not being careful.

I wasn't sure what to expect, and thought maybe she would be more mournful or maybe even pouty, but instead, she has been mature and apologized. She is looking forward to caring for them again, collecting her eggs and loving on them.

So while Sarah is being a good sport and helping with Animals, Anna is doing Sarah's morning job of sorting laundry. :)

I know this is a very important lesson and I hate to see her hurt, but in the long run, if she didn't learn this lesson, she wouldn't grow in understanding.

I'm just glad we are able to have animals to help teach us valuable lessons.

2 comments:

Lorraine said...

We just had to do a similar thing with our oldest. He and his girlfriend are very, very close. Actually way too serious for ages. The only good thing is that they live two hours apart. However they had both become very attached to thier nightly phone calls. They were also trying to get away with them being longer and longer, both taking atvantage of tired and/or busy parents. Lately his grades dropped, which will affect his getting into the college of his choice. So we grounded him from talking to her for two weeks. My son who never shows emotions was in tears. It hurt to do it to him, but we feel it was the right thing to teach him.

Mike and Christie said...

Anna's response to having her animal responsibilities taken away this week has been rather interesting. She has responded very positively and is trying very hard inside to be pleasant and helpful. She has taken over Sarah's laundry responsibility and is doing quite well with it.

She is counting the days until she can take care of her animals again, but in the mean time, she has taken full responsibility for what has been happening and is even helping Sarah and daddy with animal tips.:)

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