Way back in being-a-parent-to-three young kids land, I went to a lot of parenting classes. We won’t say what it was about those three young kids that led me to parenting classes, but let it suffice that there were at least two occasions where I put them out of the car on the side of the road and threatened to drive off without them.
Eventually I got around to teaching parenting classes, having concluded that walking through the fires of hell gave me the street cred to do so. My son helped by acting up before every class so that I’d have a fresh story to lead off the session with, god love him. It was fun. I got lots of support.
But the overall message that came through, strong and clear, was that you NEVER said “Good boy” to your son if he did something good – you were to praise the action and not the person, blame the action as if it came from somewhere else. Not, “that was bad, setting fire to your sister’s hamster”, but “Setting fire to a hamster is bad.” The argument was that a person was neither good nor bad, but their actions could be.
I’m not sure about that.
In any case, this is the only explanation for my response to my dog this morning when I told him to sit and wait while I took off his leash and he actually did.
I told him, “Chutney, that was GOOD LISTENING!”
I often find myself offering this sort of comment to the dog, who of course hears “blah blah blah GOOD blah blah blah blah”. And he’s a poodle, with a fairly large vocabulary, including car, beach, bow-wow (his camp), bath, dinner, bedtime and treat. He doesn’t care about the words around good or bad. He just wants to know if I’m cross or happy and if there is going to be a tasty treat involved.
Probably like my kids, when I come right down to it.