Parenting, Educators & Dog Training – Follow the same strategies for success

If you are a parent, teacher, or dog trainer, all of these responsibilities are fulfilled best by using similar strategies. 

Parents want their children to grow up safe, healthy, successful, and happy. Teachers want their students to be enthusiastic learners that also grow up to combine their academic skills with great character. Dog-trainers want the dogs they work with to have respectful manners while they feel the love of their owners. 

The framework for all three jobs is pretty much the same. 

Know what you want

Parents, what do you value the most, what are your non-negotiables, and what is the outcome you would like to see for your children.

Teachers, what do you want your students to learn academically? How do you expect them to behave in your classroom? What do you see as your responsibility to build character while they are learning the lessons in class?

Dog-trainers, you want to know what is allowed in the house and when you are out in the community. What is the personality of the dog and how can you balance their personality with what is acceptable for the owners and community.

Set your expectations

Parents want their children to know what the rules are in their family. They need to know if eating cookies before dinner is allowed or not allowed. What are the rules for electronics in the family, what are bedtimes and a whole host of other things depending on the age of the children?

Teachers want to know what their classroom rules are for the best learning environment for the subject they are teaching. Discussing them regularly and posting them in an area that can easily be seen for all students will be a good reminder of expectations

Dog-training is the same except they cannot understand the language you are speaking (though some dog owners believe they are able to understand). The dog must learn if you will allow jumping on you, getting on the sofa, begging at the table, etc.

Agree on consequences

Parents need to express what the consequences are for breaking the rules ahead of time and make them clear to everyone in the house. The expectations and consequences should apply to everyone in the home. Then parents will want to be consistent in applying the expectations and consequences.

Teachers will also want to be consistent with the application of consequences. Whatever our expectations are when applied fairly will be respected by the students. Knowing what to expect takes away the opportunity for manipulation or anxiety of the unknown.

Dog training is pretty basic. The act is committed and this is what happens. The dog learns to do things that result in what they are hoping for.

Recognize teachable moments

Parenting is not just about pointing out what is wrong. Teachable moments can be found when family members are living their values and demonstrating their good character. On the other side of this coin, when mistakes are made a teachable moment is about learning and not about punishment. Punishment is about what has happened in the past, consequences are the results (natural or logical) of the action, discipline is what is hoped for in the future. 

Teachers in the classroom do well to recognize when students have put forth the effort, worked with determination and have shown excellence. These are all teachable moments, just as much as when mistakes are made on a math problem and a student learns what they missed or overlooked. 

Dog training is all about rewards of attention, treats, and walks. If we are constantly yelling or hitting a dog for bad behavior they may begin to behave or not, but it would be out of fear. (so true for parenting and teaching too)

Honor the spirit

Parenting is hard. Between the responsibilities parents have, the costs of raising a family, what others want to tell us is the right way to do it, and the differences in parenting styles that we can have, we must take the time to celebrate all that we believe in and the growth of each family member in being their best.

Teaching is hard. Taking time to honor each other, celebrate successes, appreciating the potential in each student brings joyfulness and unity to the classroom. Each person in the classroom can be seen for the character and virtues they are showing.

Dog training is hard. It deserves having fun with your pet though and appreciating the service they bring to us, always there, excited to see us even if you were gone for just 15 minutes. They are a part of our family that holds no grudges, sees the good in us all the time, and forgives even when we step on their tail.

Real dog trainers can probably tell us more about how raising a dog is similar to raising children. I just know that it is similar, except NEVER crate your child. It just won’t be good for them or you. Do you see other correlations of parenting, teaching and dog training?

I help parents and teachers bring out the full potential and long term success in their children with workshops, seminars and personal coaching. I do not coach on dog training. Joe Van Deuren

The benefits of kindness for provider and recipient

Let’s talk about the benefits of kindness. We depend on the acts of kindness from others for our survival. From the time we were born and then again at the end of our life we are decidedly in need of others caring for us. Kindness is among the principled things that make life meaningful and bring joy and happiness to both the provider and the recipient.

Kindness creates in us a feeling of belonging, warmth, and openness that allows us to communicate to others. All parties involved get the feeling of friendship and trust. We can get rid of our feelings of doubt and insecurity while we can relate to others more easily. The benefits of kindness mean a more peaceful world, and happier life, and a life of meaning.

When practicing kindness for others, it is done with other virtues at the core, including honesty, forgiveness, trust, mindfulness, empathy, patience, respect, loyalty, gratitude and service. When others extend kindness to us, we see these same virtues in them, and soon we realize that we have all of these virtues in us already and it is a matter of digging them out, acknowledging them and educating ourselves in the best ways to use them.

The opposite is true when there is a lack of kindness, even mean-spiritedness. Individually we may not show kindness in some ways, sometimes inadvertently. When that happens, our conscience cries out to us to develop a virtue that we have already mentioned. We may have been responding to a selfish act toward us, or it might be shown as a result of fear, anger or frustration.

However, when we slow down and consider what we want to be known for, we can choose kindess. Our survival both as an individual and as a human race depends on acts of kindness practiced by humans. Kind teachers help students learn; kind parents reinforce their unconditional love for their children, individuals willing to feed the hungry, care for stray animals, play music for the elderly, cleaning a park, sweeping the floor, reading a story to a child, smiling at a stranger.

None of these can be done out of guilt or compulsion though. Kind acts come from our very best selves doing what we can do and become who we are – Kind individuals. So don’t let the problems in the world, the billions of people suffering from hunger or injustice overwhelm us from cultivating kindness in our world. A kind society begins with us as one individual showing kindness to one other individual. This is our starting point. Think Kindness!

Thoughtfulness gives opportunity for random acts of kindness


Every year there are days set aside for everyone to concentrate on kindness to others. The World Kindness Day held in the fall, Random Acts of Kindness day in the winter, and the whole month of February is devoted to kindness. It is great to have those special occasions, but it is those random acts and sometimes anonymous acts that pleasantly surprise us and create a desire to “pay it forward,” doing the same for others.

What can we do though, what are the opportunities we have to be kind that come up for us unexpectedly that we do not plan for or may not be encouraged to do. All of us have these opportunities, and our children can look for ways to be a part of doing kind acts this way.

An act of kindness may be done without prompting or without thinking about it too much on purpose if we are practicing thoughtfulness. When walking into a store, we may thoughtfully look around to see if someone is near us that we could hold the door open to let them in. We may be even aware of not letting the door go back into their face as we are leaving. Or letting someone in line ahead of us if they have fewer items than ourselves. That would be thoughtful and use courtesy.

Our act of kindness may be as simple as a smile directed to someone we pass on the sidewalk, or the recognition of a homeless person. Little recognition’s of visibility can make a big difference in a person’s life, so how do we show that we see and value people? Every time we do a kind act for someone we are saying to them, “I see you.  I value you as human.” So it could be a smile, question or a helping hand.

How could we show kindness at home not connected to what expectations of sharing responsibilities? What could you do if a family member was sick, how could you be helpful? It might be as simple as being more quiet than usual, or asking what they need that we might bring to them? We might show them we are thinking about them by getting or making a card or delivering flowers to their side to cheer them up.

At school it could be noticing the new person in your class, inviting them to join your lunch table. Maybe you have seen someone that is alone and not engaged with others. Do they need a listening ear, a friend, or just an acknowledgment? They may be sad about an event in their life, or they may be getting picked on by aggressors. What could you do to be kind?

How would you show kindness to your pets? How could you show kindness to others in the community, seniors, handicapped, homeless?  If you are a parent, think of areas of life that you would like to see your child show more kindness or show it differently and ask them “What would kindness look like in this situation?”

When we take care of others when they are in need or least expect it, we are practicing kindness. Our goal is to THINK KINDNESS.

The number one rule to build self-reliance in kids

Self-reliance is the goal of parents for their children so that when they get older and out on their own they can function and accomplish the day to day tasks of life. There are several virtues needed to attain this life skill of self-reliance. Our child will be building their confidence, independence, dependability, patience, flexibility, and trust – self-trust.

When our child is very young, just a baby, they depend on us for everything. We feed them, dress them, and get them from one place to another. Later they learn to crawl and walk, start using eating utensils and dressing while becoming self-reliant. They start making choices about what they will wear, who they want to be friends with, and make judgments about what is right and wrong, fair or unfair. While we are excited to see them growing up it can be difficult too. As they take on these new areas of life, they are building their self-reliance.

From the parents perspective helping our children grow their self-reliance requires us also to be confident, patient, flexible and trusting. The number one rule in building self-reliance is not to do for a child what they can do for themselves. What we know as an adult is that every new thing we try may not come quickly at first. With practice though, a few mess ups and coaching we can improve.

When helping our child develop their self-reliance, we will give them the opportunities without judgment to try new things, practice, mess up while we coach them through the process. Setting our expectations at a developmentally appropriate scale and allowing mistakes and imperfections as learning experiences will build their confidence. Even while the child is learning to make judgment calls, we can coach them through the process of decision making and allow them to deal with the consequences that come up so they learn to make choices that will be the best for them.

Building self-reliance can be a bit messy while in the middle of the process. However, the result of seeing our child making choices that are best for them, taking care of household chores on their own, getting up in the morning by themselves and other things without prompting from us the parents is worth celebrating. Self-reliance is about depending on ourselves and trusting our choices. Parenting is about educating, guiding, correcting in a way, so our children grow up with self-reliance.

Gifts of Character: Self-Reliance – The Definition

Each month we will discuss one life skill with all of our students. This month’s skill is Self-Reliance. This life skill will be defined in the following ways for our students.

Young students:  “I can do it by myself!”

Older students: Self-trust, relying on your own judgments, powers or abilities to get things done.

We are not your typical after school activity, in fact, we are an education center, working with students on physical self-defense skills while empowering families to bring out the best in our children and ourselves – through the martial arts. We believe every child has 52 gifts in them already. They only need to be taught how to grow and use them in their life. Balanced Life Skills serves parents, teachers, and students to reach that goal.

 Get the list of 52 Gifts of Character / Virtues!