The death of a pet can be an experience of sorrow, confusion and growth. If you’ve never discussed the life cycle before, it can be tricky to know where to start.
Pointing out happenings in nature on a regular basis is a great way to encourage discussion around all parts of the life cycle, such as when the seasons change or when a plant or insect dies.
If the subject comes about suddenly, here are some valuable tips to help you begin:
Don’t be surprised if they play ‘death’ for a while. Also, it can be helpful to make a memory book about the pet or to do a small ceremony to mark the death of the pet. Your child might have some wonderful ideas about how to do just that.
The holiday season often brings an encouraging nudge to involve our children in charity. This is a great time to start teaching it, beginning a yearlong family habit which extends throughout the child’s life.
At Parenting Power, we believe that children live what they learn and learn what they live, therefore, the most productive way to teach charity or generosity is to practice it often. When we model it for our children, they see our words in action.
Linda Kavelin Popov, a best-selling author and inspirational speaker, defines generosity as: ‘Giving and sharing freely because you want to, not with the idea of receiving attention, a reward or a gift in return. It is awareness that there is plenty for everyone. It is seeing an opportunity to share what you have and then just giving for the joy of giving.’
This definition makes it easy to teach our children. What do they have that they can give? Do they commit a portion of their allowance to charity? Perhaps they don’t yet have an allowance. Families can begin to brainstorm things to give and share: snow shovelling, a picture, a hug, a smile, help with baking cookies, helping with the chores, a song, etc.
There are many charitable gifts that families may choose to give throughout the year. World Vision, Plan Canada and many other organizations allow you to give a donation in the name of your child’s teacher or another recipient.
Unfortunately, many parents today reward their children for giving—with a celebratory dinner or a little gift for the child. Linking an external reward with the process of giving can easily distract a child from recognizing the natural, internal reward. When your child practices generosity, if you feel the need to say anything, you can notice the act and/or ask how the child feels about the process rather than judging and over-praising the child. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to allow them to experience the joy of giving.