Updated: Jun 26, 2020
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Rats are amazing animals, who are often given a bad reputation. Although people often criticise them for feeding on rubbish and spreading disease, they are actually very good at cleaning up waste – rubbish that people leave behind. Rats are very sociable and need company. They are very loving pets, who love to cuddle and be close to their caregivers and family. Rats care for any sick or injured members of their family. They love to learn new things, explore new places and play. They are very agile and love to climb and sneak into small holes. Rats are very resilient. They are very adaptable and can live in any environment, they persevere when trying to solve problems and they use creativity and intelligence to help them find a solution. Although rats get a lot of negativity from people, they are able to continue regardless without letting the judgements of other people bother them.
The key things that rats can teach us are to be adventurous and resilient and to value your community.
Resilience is the ability to continue to work towards a goal, despite any difficulties that you may have to overcome in doing so. Rats are very good at this. If they set their minds on something, they are very adaptable and creative in finding a way to achieve it, no matter how many times they may fail in their efforts.
Difficulties present themselves in many different ways. They can be physical or mental difficulties, they may be caused by other people or even created by your own mind. This week I started yoga. I found it hard and realised that I don’t have the strength and stamina that I thought I had. However, with determination and repetition, I know I can absolutely build that up. Doing that will take a great deal of resilience on my part, as it’s hard to do something that you struggle with.
This is the same for children. We are all learning all the time. As adults we generally know where our strengths and weaknesses lie and quite often, where possible play to our strengths. In schools, however it’s not that simple, as children have to learn a wide range of lessons and generally have to take part in lessons that they struggle with alongside other children who excel in that area. This can result in a number of mixed feelings – shame and embarrassment about not being able to do it as well as other children, worry about what people are thinking about them – or saying and a dislike of the subject. Combined, these thoughts and feelings knock the child’s self-esteem (see Help Your Kids Find Their Tiger Power) and can result in avoidance. If they don’t try they have an excuse to fail.
These are strong emotions and they can have a huge impact on your children’s adult life. If children learn to opt out of things they don’t like or struggle with, how are they going to develop resilience as they get older? Resilience is the key to future success. Resilience helps you to overcome problems and find solutions, it helps you to see failure as a learning opportunity to support growth (see A Mouse’s Guide To Mighty Kids) and it helps you to achieve your goals and dreams. This is a skill that can be easily identified in leaders and successful entrepreneurs. By nurturing this skill in your children, you will be setting them up for more success in later life. The best way to teach this is through encouragement, rewarding effort and from leading by example.
Be Part Of A Community
Rats demonstrate a great example of how a community works. They love company, they like to play together, they work together and they take care of their sick and elderly members.
After years of begging, we finally gave in and allowed my daughter to get three pet rats. They were great fun and for small animals they had huge personalities. They cuddled together, groomed each other, played together and worked together to achieve an end goal. In order to get some treats out of the little plastic drawers they were kept in, we watched them try, individually, to pull out the drawers, nudge them from the other side and try to chew at the plastic. Within a few days of trying we had to laugh at their eventual success, which came from a coordinated effort of one rat pushing from behind, whilst the other pulled from the front. This showed not only resilience, but the value of working together. As they got older and reached the end of their life, I also saw how their brothers and newer family additions groomed them and cuddled into them more to keep them warm. This was truly beautiful to see.
Community comes from belonging to a group of people, who live in the same area, or who share common interests. This can include clubs and societies, schools, friendship groups, religious groups etc. Within a community children can learn to share, to learn from each other, to build positive relationships, to care about others and to work together to achieve a common goal, whether that is to win a sports competition, complete a project or pray for a positive outcome. I mentioned above that we all have different strengths and weaknesses. The beauty of working together is that people can succeed by utilising the strengths and ideas of others to compliment their own strengths and weaknesses, thus enabling the development of something that wouldn’t be possible if attempted alone.
Such small animals, who are very undervalued by society, understand so much about how to live peacefully together, work together and care for each other. This is such an amazing attitude to instill into our children, which will impact hugely on their ability to live a happy and more successful life, in which they feel valued, connected and supported.
Life isn’t all about working, but it is nearly always about learning. Learning doesn’t have to feel like work though. Every experience and encounter brings with it new learning. One of the best ways to develop new skills and experiences is to step out of your comfort zone and explore new things. Rats are naturally curious animals, who love to explore new things and new surroundings. They are very intelligent creatures and they learn a lot from their explorations.
As humans our brains are wired to help us stay safe. As such many of us like to stay within our comfort zones and stick with familiar places, activities and routines. Ironically, the more safe and secure a child feels, the more they will want to explore and seek adventure. Their limits are often your limits. How many new places do you try to visit, how often do you push yourself out of your comfort zone? When you see life as an adventure, with much to be explored you will experience so much fun and character growth and you will learn new skills and knowledge that will help you to live a happy and fulfilling life. That is definitely something to nurture in your kids and can be developed whilst having lots of fun.
New countries would never have been found without a desire to explore new territories; companies wouldn’t have been set up without the courage to try new things and take some risks; books wouldn’t have been published, if people hadn’t been brave enough to step out of their comfort zone and take a chance by putting their ideas out there. Success and fulfilment can’t be found by staying safe. They are often a result of taking chances, exploring opportunities and learning new things.
The Route To Success
You could argue that the lessons rats teach you can really show you a route to a happy and successful life. Resilience, cooperation, teamwork and a willingness to learn and achieve by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, can equip you and your children with the skills necessary to succeed and the satisfaction that can only be gained from overcoming difficult or personal challenges.
Watch the Video
The Author of this blog has created Llama Meditation, an animal-themed movement and meditation course, which nurtures emotional wellbeing in children aged 6-11 years old, equipping them important skills and knowledge, (including those listed in this article) that they need to develop positive self-esteem, a positive mindset and the ability to solve problems and work well with other children. To find out more click here.
The image above gives you a sneak preview of a guest star.