As the fingers of the coronavirus reach out to impact our lives, much uncertainty abounds. Every industry and beyond is at an unprecedented crossroads considering what comes next. Among those affected are the thousands of school closures sending faculty, staff, admins, plus many more students home as a precaution.
In the midst of this confusion it’s prudent to be proactive.
Focus points of interest help children and teens, because (re)directing disquieting thoughts can turn into positive adventures. Thus, there is no better helper waiting than your family pets, large and small.
So what can you do as a parent, mentor, guardian or teacher?
Keep your students (or child’s) attention focused during times of unrest. And, one solution is to interact with animals! For many pet owners, nothing is more emotionally stabilizing- and healing, than the unconditional love offered by our pets. Or just as significant, times spent in nature observing and enjoying wildlife.
Offered here are some ideas, suggestions, and educational opportunities,
for students who may need a healthy diversion, or a schedule for stability:
- Have children attend the family pet needs. Animal care tasks not only instills responsibility, it provides purpose and a secure place of belonging when routines are disrupted. Pet care should not stop at daily feedings. Have your child exercise the family dog(s), or play with their cat. This time is beneficial for both pets and their humans to decompress. Make sure to consider animal disposition to a child’s capability in terms of a good fit, so a positive outcome results in bonding.
- Now may be the time to forgo the household ‘pet rules’. The unconditional presence of animals helps to absorb and quell angst. Allow the family dogs to cuddle on the couch with your kids. Or sleep in bed with them. Apply the same with cats. Although, often cats never wait for an invitation because they train us! 🙂
- If you have farm animals, or have access to a neighbor’s ranch enlist their help. Often farm friend’s welcome help with feeding, stall cleaning, grooming and much more. There is an abundance of joy in the spring when kid goats, baby lambs, calves and foals are born. A fresh perspective is a true gift to give to a child. Along with the possibly of a new charge to look after, or even becoming a hired helper. It’s wise to call your neighboring farm first, before showing up on their doorstep!
- Animal shelters and pet rescues welcome an extra set of hands. Many shelters need dog walkers, groomers, feeders and assistants. This is a perfect opportunity to expose students to other animal breeds, and possibly a future career. Wildlife sanctuaries specialize in a variety, or a specific species. From bobcats and bears, to raptors and birds of prey, or even possums, raccoons and skunks! Check shelter websites for visitations and volunteer policies before assuming they are open to the public during this time.
- A simple bird seed- or hummingbird feeder hanging by a window can offer hours of restful watching. Wildlife happens everywhere if you look for it. Even in the city. Or propagated. Such as setting up a fish tank, getting gerbils or guinea pigs. As well, backyard chickens can supply fresh eggs! There are many animals waiting to provide charitable opportunities to humans needing a calm repose, relaxation, and/or renewal.
Often simple solutions are gifted to us from our 4 legged- or feathered friends. Animals impart healthy wisdom by living in the moment of NOW and ACCEPTING WHAT IS.
An excellent lesson at this time that we all should heed. Wendell Berry provides an appropriate summary to this article with his insightful poem, “The Peace of Wild Things”.
“The Peace of Wild Things”
by Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me and
I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Copyright 2020 by Patty Ann – PattyAnn.net. Article Reprints Granted by Permission Only.