What to Do When Kids Are Mean: Success Skills for Kids

Join us in this heart-warming series in which Dozer the Dog and Dr. Lori teach children how to truly believe in and love themselves so they can go out into the world and be strong, and make good, kind, and loving choices. Let’s teach children these success skills so they can stand up to those bullies, so they can do what’s right, even when it’s hard, so they can trust themselves in difficult situations, and so they can be empowered to live any life they can dare to dream for themselves.

In this video, Dozer learns what to do when kids are mean, and how to say a Love Pledge to himself to remind himself that he is special and lovable, no matter what others might say to him.

To watch this video now, just click here:

For more information about Dr. Lori’s literacy program for elementary schools, featuring adorable Dozer the Dog, please visit www.howdogshelpkids.com today!

Congratulations, Sunny Sands Elementary!

Ok, so I’ve never had children, but I’ll never forget one of my best friends saying to me once that when you have a child, it’s like your heart is suddenly walking around out there in the big world, and you just don’t know what’s going to happen – how your child will be received, treated, liked, or loved. You spend years of your life investing time and nurture in that child, hoping and praying that everything will be ok, that they won’t experience rejection or hurt.

Being an entrepreneur is kind of like that. You create something from your heart, and then you put your heart out there and then – you just don’t know what’s going to happen – how your idea will be received, treated, liked, or loved. You spend years of your life investing time and nurture in that idea, hoping and praying that everything will be ok, and that you won’t experience rejection or hurt.

The differences, of course, are obvious. But much of the time you really don’t know, as a business owner, how your ideas and offerings will be accepted in the world. But this morning – this morning was one of those rare moments when I felt like it’s all been worth it. When the careful nurturing, the hours and hours and hours of focused attention and love I’ve poured into my offering, came back to me in spades. I imagine it’s the business equivalent of seeing your child get nominated for “Student of the Year.” That moment when you think, “Oh thank God, some of it is finally paying off. I’m not a terrible parent after all!”

This morning, Sunny Sands Elementary School held their 2nd Grade Reading Celebration and Adoption Ceremony as the culmination of the program I crafted from my heart and have loved from it’s beginning: “How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed in the Classroom.” Over 130 children and a sprinkling of parents streamed into the large room, the children clutching the little plush dogs they have named and “fostered” over the past ten weeks, holding them close to their hearts, and proudly displaying their bright, yellow Adoption Certificates. I watched from a distance, taking it all in, until one of them recognized me.

“Hey! It’s the lady from the videos!” said one little boy. “Yeah! It’s the dog lady!” said another (no, that did not insult me in the least, if you are wondering), “Hey everybody look, it’s Dr. Lori!”

One hundred heads turned, and then chaos broke loose. Everybody needed my attention, instantly. One young boy with dark, serious eyes held his dog up to me and said, “Dr. Lori, I give my dog tons of respect. On the way here, I used my Adoption Certificate to keep him out of the sun because it’s too hot for him.” Another boy rocked two dogs in his arms. “I’m babysitting for my friend,” he explained quietly. And then voices came from everywhere, “We LOVE your videos! Thank you for your videos!”

I was almost in tears from this outpouring of gratitude when I got up on the stage to lead their Love Pledge – a right of passage before these students would earn the privilege of taking these dogs home with them to “adopt” and become a part of their forever families. I asked the students to place one hand on their heart, and to please repeat after me:

By accepting this certificate, I promise to always be kind to my dog. I promise to love my dog no matter what. I promise to never pull my dog’s tail or be mean in any way. I promise to tell my dog these things: I am so proud of you. You are so special.You are so smart, and I love you – just as you are.

After the ceremony, I planned to wave to the students to say good-bye. But instead, I received over fifty hugs from thrilled, smiling new “pet parents” as they broke away from their teachers to embrace me in a rush of gratitude. I wish I could show you some of their beautiful, beaming faces.

It was one of those moments when it seemed like everyone present could feel the positive energy in the room, the elevated sense that this is what matters, that this is a slice of the good in the world, and what Aristotle must have had in mind when he wrote, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

There are moments, as an entrepreneur, when it feels like I just want to give up. When it feels like the mountain is just too big to climb, the goal is just too big, when I wonder if it’s all worth it, and when I wonder if any of this is making a difference at all. Today, these students reminded me that it absolutely is worth it, and that we really are making an incredible difference in this world, one heart and mind at a time.

Thank you, Sunny Sands teachers, for your amazing work with these children in literacy and in compassion for animals. I am deeply, deeply grateful for your time, for your commitment, and for your invitation to attend today and remind me of what really matters. You are the real reason for this program’s success, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support.


Featured Book: Maggie’s Second Chance

51Sz8IatmNL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_If you have ever been lucky enough to have a rescue dog rescue you right back, this book is for you. This is an incredible story about a beautiful Lab mix named Maggie who is left behind when her family moves. It illustrates, with heartbreaking images and text, the sad reality that so many dogs face when the family they love turns their back on them. Maggie is left alone in the icy, dark house with no blanket, food or water.

When she is rescued (thankfully), it is clear to the animal services workers that Maggie is pregnant. She is taken to a place where she gives birth to her puppies, is fed, and is given what little love busy volunteers are able to find time to give her. But because she was black and difficult to see in photos, she didn’t get adopted.

But Maggie’s luck changes when a young boy sees her picture in the newspaper and asks the question, “What happens if Maggie doesn’t find a home?” When he realizes that Maggie would likely be euthanized, he engages his classmates and teacher in creating a plan to propose an animal shelter at the next town council meeting. When the plan passes, the entire class gets involved to help. Maggie is rescued at the very last minute as she finds a new, and hopefully temporary home, at the new shelter.

This is a wonderful book to help open children’s eyes to ways they can get involved in helping animals in their own community, and may inspire classrooms of children from across the nation to do their small part. Just imagine the impact we could make – and how many dogs’ lives we could save – if everyone did just one small thing.

Thank you, Nancy Furstinger and Joel Hyatt, for such an inspirational and meaningful book for children and their adults.

Teachers and parents, if you are looking for a wonderful addition to your library, this is it!

To order your copy of Maggie’s Second Chance, just click here. If you would like to read more books by this author, please visit Nancy’s homepage here: http://www.nancyfurstinger.com

Just a little update: I contacted Nancy Furstinger to let her know how much her work has impacted the 125 children who participated in the pilot of this program, and I wanted to share her response with you! She wrote that Maggie’s character was inspired by the real life story of a dog named “Jolly,” and the class of fourth grade students featured in the book created this incredible organization, “Dawgs n Texas,” which has saved over 7,000 animals to date! To read more about these inspirational students and how they are making a difference, “One animal at a time, One child at a time, One day at a time,” just click here.

The Invisible Link Between Child and Animal Abuse

37e2255f75a4a95a258385f34e6e538bAs an elementary school teacher for ten years in North America and teaching children in Hong Kong, Australia, and Japan, I’ve come to understand that a child’s behavior towards him or herself, others, and animals is intimately connected to the way they have been treated by the adults in their lives. Too often, when I’ve witnessed a child being cruel to another on the playground, when I’ve seen them spit, hit, or bully another child, it later becomes clear that that child has himself been the victim of bullying, neglect, or another form of abuse. Children are the ultimate imitators – whether or not we are aware, they are constantly watching the behavior of the adults in their lives to learn patterns of behavior for themselves. And sadly, when adults in these young children’s lives are abusers, too often, children tend to become abusers themselves.

The American Humane Association clearly documents the connection between animal abuse and domestic violence, and has found that “71% of pet-owning women entering women’s shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims; 32% reported their children had hurt or killed animals.” Further, “68% of battered women reported violence towards their animals,” and 75% of these incidents occurred in the presence of the children to psychologically control and coerce them.

Children who have been abused tend to imitate their parents behaviors in an effort to re-direct their anger onto another victim. And because pets live most frequently in homes with children, with 64.1% of homes with children under the age of 6, and 74.8% of homes with children over the age of 6 having pets, animals can become the ancillary victims of children’s re-directed hurt and anger.

Bob Ferber, former Animal Abuse Prosecutor and Los Angeles City Attorney, states that the FBI has found that animal abuse is one of the greatest indicators of future violence. He notes that because of this strong connection between child abuse and animal abuse, we need to do all we can to help prevent animal cruelty. To learn more about Bob Ferber’s incredible work, please watch the 7 minute video below.

In all my work with children, it isn’t uncommon for me to witness or to hear stories about children interacting with animals in a way that might not seem humane, but often, children just don’t know any better, or haven’t observed a positive model for how to develop a kind and compassionate relationship with the pets in their lives.

How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed In the Classroom teaches children to act in compassionate ways towards animals by helping children to understand that just like us, dogs have feelings, and that dogs can feel lonely, scared, and vulnerable, just like we can. We teach children that it isn’t ok to hit or hurt a dog when he or she makes a mistake (and it’s not ok for us to hit another person when we are angry with them). We help children to understand that it is our responsibility to take care of our dogs’ unique needs by ensuring that they have fresh water and food every day, by teaching them that they need love, companionship, and a warm, clean, and comfy place to sleep. We teach children that dogs need to see their own kind of doctor, a veterinarian, not only when they are sick, but to help prevent them from becoming sick, and that dogs need to be spayed and neutered so they don’t have unwanted puppies who later end up in shelters – or worse.

But we don’t stop there. This program also encourages the parents of these children to become more compassionate towards animals by engaging them in weekly “BoneWork” challenges that provide a natural extension and application of the lessons their children are learning at school. For example, the children are challenged to write a list of 5 ways they will show love and appreciation for the animals in their life that week, and then receive a star from their parents for each action they take. The parents are also challenged to show love and appreciation for their children in 5 ways that same week. Encouraging this ongoing cycle of love and compassion offers families a positive model for how to shift from possible pain and neglect to empathy and respect for the incredible and vulnerable animals in their care.

As Mahatma Ghandi so eloquently said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” To learn more about How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed In the Classroom and to find out how you can get this program in your child’s school, please click here.