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Opinion & Essays - Jun, 1996 Issue #40 

(Or one way to view the acting-out adolescent 
with greater understanding and compassion)

By: Linda Shaffer, Educational Consultant
Sandpoint, Idaho 
 (208) 263-8394 

Puppies and "new kids" are SO alike--
Scared, curious,
Endearing, fatiguing,
Sweet, growling,
Boisterous, withdrawn,
In the mud, cleaning up,
Accepting, barking,
Testing limits, compliant,
Confident, confused,
Dramatic, hiding out,
Trying to eat electric cords,
And loving to be hugged. 

Most important to remember, in the midst of the tornado that puppies and new kids in emotional growth schools can bring with them, is their potential, (And some days that potential can be easier to see in a voraciously chewing puppy caught with his teeth in the living room couch than in a snarling adolescent). Energies and actions of both teens and pups need guidance. And they both need to experience love, acceptance, nurturing, consistency, consequences, companionship, and fun. 

Puppies and new kids are trying to figure things out. What are the rules around here anyway? What happens if I snap at someone? Who's in charge? Are there consequences for efforts at relentless negative attention-seeking. Is it okay to chew on (carve on) the table? Why do they seem to appreciate "my voice" sometimes and other times tell me "No! Stop!" Both the struggling adolescent and puppies, by their actions, let the world know they need guidance and education -- both academic and emotional. Seems to me the world would benefit from seeing that whirling dervish "struggling new kid" with the same open heart and understanding most can have for the sometimes whirling dervish puppy caught trying to chew his way through the house and any available socks. My experience with new kids and pups is that there is something beautiful in there just trying to continue blossoming trying to figure out how to be a rose without too many thorny parts. Potential -- it shows all over their peaceful sleeping faces, right? We can say they're too much trouble; or, we can love them, educate them and share in their in their "joy of life," great leaps into the air. 

(Note: The Shaffer household recently - with loving anticipation - brought home a furry, 6 week old golden retriever puppy. "And we're off!"). 

Copyright 1996, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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