Okay so I scared you a bit with my title didn’t I? Marrying into the last name Bates comes with it’s share of comments about Norman, motels, etc… My favorite has always been “are you going to name one of your kids norman?” While I see the humor in all of this, let’s face it, it can get old. My solution was to name the dog Norman (which, yes, makes me Norman’s mother)
My husband and I consider Norman to be our first born, rescued from the pound as a puppy, he was the center of our universe. We spoiled him and therefore had quite a bit of difficulty with obedience training, actually training of any kind. A large, shepherd-husky mix, Norman was very strong but fortunately very intelligent. The people who needed training here were his owners and nothing made this more clear than enrolling him in puppy obedience class. It was at a puppy obedience class that I learned a very simple concept, however one that has made me not only a better pet owner but also a better parent. The puppy obedience teacher said this, “Do not encourage any behavior that you do not want to see again!” That’s it, following this simple statement changed the way I treated my dog but more importantly gave me a simple concept to follow in raising my children.
I have countless examples where this statement has come into play and I still use it today with teenagers. (There will be a future post “Norman teaches potty training). Like the puppy, fundamentally, our children aim to please. From a young age they are experts at reading our body language and demeanor. If you laugh they laugh with you and do it again, if you are stern, they can read that also as danger, parent not happy with frozen waffle in the dvd player”. You get the picture.
As for teenagers, the concept is still the same, I do believe they are still aiming to please, however we also know that they are testing the waters on a daily basis. What can I wear, say or do that will get a reaction, and what kind of reaction will it be? I can think of one recent example where I relied on my puppy obedience training. Child X gave me a very common teenage reply to something I had said, and that was “whatever”. Now, you may think that’s harmless, they all say it. But for me, the “whatever”, complete with tone and attitude was a quasi-appropriate response to hide the true meaning. As calmly and deliberately as I could, I responded with “you may talk to your friends like that all you want, but you may not use that word with me or any other adult, period. It’s been a couple of years, and I have not heard “whatever” again, behavior discouraged!
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