Posts Tagged: Parenting

The PANK Perspective: Pet Loss & Explaining Death To Children

The PANK Perspective (Professional Aunt, No Kids) – by Diane Morris

My brother and his wife bought a pure bred Golden Retriever the year before they got married. Their dog was beautiful; long blonde hair, big paws and large brown eyes. She was rebellious and always got into trouble. She liked to eat food off the counter, maul you when you walked through the door and bark incessantly at the mailman. She seemed to mellow out a bit as she aged, but remained playful – especially with my nephew.

When he was born, the dog took to him. They became buddies; curling up on the couch watching cartoons together, camping out in a homemade fort of blankets and furniture cushions and swimming in the lake together in the summer. My nephew considered the dog to be one of his first friends.

Suddenly and without warning, the dog passed away while playing with my parent’s dog. The vet said it was a heart attack. My poor Sister-In-Law was home alone with her two boys when it happened. My parents were away, my brother and I at work. My SIL had to explain to my nephew what happened.

“Sydney got sick and went to heaven” she first told him. Questions ensued.

Thinking later that telling him that the dog was sick wasn’t the best choice of explaining what happened. She feared that telling him that would cause him worry whenever he caught a cold, or someone in the family fell ill. So, she told him that it was simply the dog’s time to go to heaven. She described a place of peace above the clouds and that Sydney would be watching over him, but wouldn’t be back to play. He was confused.

When I saw him the next day to give my condolences to my brother & SIL, my nephew blurted out, “Aunt Dee, we don’t have a dog anymore.” I told him that I knew and that I was sorry that Sydney had to leave. He just looked at me and then asked if I wanted to play tag. I chased him around the living room wondering if he missed being chased by the dog.

For a few weeks after, he didn’t mention the dog much. We figured that since he’s so young, losing the family dog didn’t affect him as much as it had his parents who had raised her over the past 6 years. Then one day he asked his Mom, “Can Sydney come home and play now?” With tears in her eyes she explained to him once again that Sydney was gone and living in heaven. She asked him if he had any questions about heaven and he said no. Then just moments later he said, “I wish I had wings like Buzz Lightyear so I could fly above the clouds and visit Sydney.”

He understood that heaven was a place above the clouds, that he needed to fly there, and that Sydney was there. But did he understand that Sydney had died?

It was heartbreaking to hear the news of the sudden death of a young dog, and to hear the honest and innocent wish of my nephew. But, there is a part of me that is thankful that his first experience with death was from the family dog and not from a grandparent. Trying to explain to a child that they will never see someone they love again has got to be one of the most difficult conversations to have with your kid. I think my SIL did a good job and pet loss was a learning experience for her to prepare her for more conversations and explanations to come about life.

How did you handle explaining death to a child? What does death look like to a 4 year old? How do you prepare for that explanation?

 

About the Author:

Diane Morris is a PANK; Professional Aunt, No Kids and works for Mabel’s Labels as the Sales Coordinator. She’s an Aunt to two boys, and an “Auntie” to her boyfriend’s niece and nephew. She’s a sucker for romance, country music and peanut butter.

Tough Transitions

I’ve often heard parents talk about difficulties their kids have with transitions. Sometimes it’s a change in routine, a change in wardrobe or a change in living situations. I’ve never had big issues with my kids and transitions. Even my child with autism didn’t struggle too much in this department.

I used to think parents dealing with normal transitional stuff were exaggerating the difficulty of it. Until now. My youngest is one of these tough “transitioners.”

It’s not so much a change in routine that gets to him- it seems to be mostly about clothing. This makes seasonal changes quite dramatic. Now that spring is upon us, you would think he’d happily put away his bulky snow pants. No such luck. My little guy runs around outside all day on Sunday in shorts and a t-shirt. Come Monday morning, he’s searching for his snow pants. Then there is his favourite winter hat. He would rather have his ears amputated due to frost bite than wear a different hat. This made for some tricky situations if that special hat got misplaced on very cold days.

The funniest quirk has to do with his school uniform. He loves his school uniform and happily wears it every day. However, if they have a special day when they can wear regular clothes, he refuses to participate. On Valentine’s Day, there was a school wide competition to see which class wore the most red clothing. This is how the day played out:

- He refused to wear red and went to school in his uniform;
- He came home and reported that he was the only child not wearing red;
- He was furious that his class didn’t win the contest for wearing the most red.

Yes, he was the reason his class didn’t win, and yet it angered him.

This weekend, my little tough transitioner turned five. He happily accepted a party and presents, but was not happy about giving up the age of four. My little man appeared to have an acute case of “Peter Pan Syndrome”. When people ask him his age, his response is “still four” and we were only allowed to put four candles on his birthday cake. I figure by the time he gets used to being five- years -old, he’ll be six.

Have you had a child who had difficulty with transitions? What ways have you found to help your child deal with change? Was it something that was outgrown?

Screen Free Week – May 5-11

When I mentioned Screen-Free Week to my 12 year-old son, his response was “Are you kidding me? That’s like Earth Hour BUT FOR A WHOLE WEEK!” The hardest part of Earth Hour for him isn’t turning out the lights (Flashlights and candles? Awesome!) It’s about no Netflix or X-Box. Playing board games by candlelight is fun, but about the 45-minute mark everyone, including us grown-ups, is sneaking a peek at the clock (see My Plugged-In Family).

In our house, we’re going to try and modify Screen-Free Week and make it Screen-REDUCTION Week.

Here’s the plan:

1) Estimate CURRENT Screen Time. Check in with family members in advance, and ask everyone to ballpark how much time they spend on screens daily.

2) Monitor Screen Time BEFORE Screen-Free Week. Ask everyone to keep track of their screen time for a few days to see how realistic their estimate was. Make it like The Price Is Right and have a small prize for whoever makes the most accurate guess. Even if it’s an astonishing amount of time, at least they’re aware! Baby steps.

3) “But I’ll have nothing to do!” Brainstorm some ideas of things to do together as a family instead of all being on separate screens, as well as some individual activities. Board games? Bike ride? Family hike? Curling up with a book? Cleaning their room? Yeah, sneak that one in; it’s worth a shot.

4) Get commitments. Ask everyone to pick a goal, either time-based or otherwise, and WRITE IT DOWN. Our son has already committed to live without his X-box for the entire week. Have some kind of incentive for whoever achieves their goal. I’m totally motivated by rewards; my prize could be relaxing and reading magazines for a whole hour! Have the kids figure out what their reward will be, encouraging them to think of ones that cost very little, if anything.

5) Have Fun! This doesn’t have to be a torturous week. Have your list of alternative activities handy. Make some Screen-Free signs with the kids and post them as little reminders (reduces the nag factor).

6) Follow-Up. After the week, sit down with everyone and find out how it went. Was it difficult? Easier than you thought? What were the positive things that happened? Will it change your behaviour moving forward?

Will you be participating in Screen-Free Week? Any ideas to share? Come back and leave a comment and let us know how it went!

 

About the Author:

Karen Pearson is one of the friendly voices you’ll hear on the other end of the phone when calling Customer Service at Mabel’s Labels. She enjoys writing about her family, which includes a husband, 3 kids and a rescue dog from Greece.

Related Posts with Thumbnails