Friday, March 13, 2009

"Any Interaction is Training"

Professional animal trainers believe that every time you have contact with an animal, you are teaching it something, either intentionally or unintentionally. Animals never stop learning from their environment, and humans are part of their environment. Inadvertent lessons can sometimes be quite hard to overcome. If a trainer reacts positively by smiling because an animal does something funny, the animal may continue to repeat that behavior, even if it is not a desired behavior. Then, the trainer is in the unenviable position of having to train an animal to stop doing a behavior that the animal just learned.

So, animal trainers learn to monitor their behavior and develop a great deal of self control. They know that their animals are watching them every minute and could learn bad habits from observing the trainers.

Today I put Sabrina down for a nap and fifteen minutes later I put Catherine to bed. Because the girls share a room, I always tell Catherine that she has to be quiet because Sabrina is sleeping. Contrary to my advice, Catherine still enters the bedroom talking and giggling. Thankfully, Sabrina is a heavy sleeper and doesn't even flinch. So, I thought Catherine didn't hear my instructions.

But, today as I was carrying Catherine into the bedroom, just about to give her instructions, she told me "Shh! Be quiet! Sister is sleeping!" I was so impressed with her memory.

At the same moment, I was humbled ... reminded that she is watching and learning from everything I do. I have to be so careful what I say and do around my children!

This post was inspired by the book "What Shamu Taught me about Life, Love and Marriage" by Amy Sutherland.

No comments: