Friday, May 16, 2008

What is Wrong with The World

When did No become a bad word? When did the concept of reasonable boundaries for behavior get lost? When did negative consequences for negative behavior become mean and cruel?
Kids, dogs, at some point the adult humans abdicated authority and discipline and decided that rude out of control behavior is not only normal and acceptable, but "cute". This load of crap is stuffed down our throats by the Purely Positive crowd, implying that expecting and enforcing good manners and calm behavior somehow stifles, nay, abuses, the little creature.

I was in Kohl's the other day. Walking past the flip flop clearance racks, I see a woman turn to her misbehaving young son and say "Jason, I am going to count." Jason continues screwing around. I couldn't help myself. I slapped my hands to my face and cried, "Oh my God, she's going to count!" If looks could kill I would have burst into flames. I couldn't help but laugh. It was obvious Jason knew he could do whatever he wanted and Mom had no authority. He also knew that if he persisted long enough Mom would give in, give up and just let him have or do what he wanted. Had Jason been my child I would have taken him firmly by the arm, drilled him with my eyes and told him in no uncertain terms what would happen if he didn't straighten up right now. If he persisted I would have immediately followed through with my threat. I really don't care if the little brat likes me, nor do I care what the other shoppers think of me. It is the responsibility of the parent to teach and enforce the boundaries of good behavior.

We all live within enforced boundaries every day. They are called laws. Break the law, there will be a consequence somewhere between a ticket and jail. Of course the adult humans are now setting a fine example with the attitude that if there are no cops around it is ok to drive twice the speed limit. Our kids see this and think Cool, do what you want just don't get caught. Persist long enough, learn to be sneaky and the No just goes away. Dogs learn the same way. Ok, not the driving part, thank Dog.

Dogs are being ruined by the millions by the same people who won't control their kids. Having been fed the PP party line about their kids, they now try to apply that to their dogs. And there are a lot of trainers out their that have swallowed the hook that Purely Positive is the only way. There is even a movement called Totally Dog Friendly. These folks truly believe that corrections and any negative consequence is mean and cruel. They have excellent marketing people writing their propoganda. They even say they use "operant conditioning" to train dogs. The truth is they don't. Operant conditioning has 4 quadrants, the final one being punishment for a negative response. Google it. If you can filter all the PP websites, you will eventually find a real scientific outline of Operant Conditioning.

Discipline does not mean punishment. It comes from the same root word as disciple and means to teach. Discipline is not something you do, it is how you live. Teach the rule, enforce the rule, praise the compliance, punish the non compliance.

I am not avocating abuse, just discipline. As a former abused child I have a serious problem with an adult having a meltdown on kids or dogs. If screaming and beating worked I wouldn't have a job. Screaming and beating will definitely screw someone up. But there is a vast gulf between firm clear correction and screaming and beating.

Perhaps it is that the adult humans have abdicated a disciplined lifestyle for themselves. Oh, they may manage to shower and brush their teeth everyday mostly. But they truly desire, wish for and seek out instant gratification for themselves. So long term goals are kinda vague and not really important. Sorry folks, raising kids and dogs is not for your instant fuzzy gratification, it is a job with the goal of turning out well adjusted adult creatures able to fit into society.

I simply cannot advocate a method that condemns a dog to death or the pound because it has been labeled "Untrainable" when only one method has been tried. Especially when the owner has been told that that one method is the only humane method, and that introducing corrections and consequences are cruel.

So what is really cruel? Enforcing a No, setting clear boundaries now so everyone can live in peace and stay together? Or is it allowing undiciplined out of control behavior to become an adult lifestyle?

I bet you can guess my answer.

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