I train dogs.
I started learning how to do it when I was in the Security Police during my Air Force days. I went through a 12-week school to learn how to train and handle police dogs. Later I had a couple of other jobs in law enforcement that involved the tutoring of canines. I learned that the Air Force trained dogs pretty much as they trained people. That is, they were quite demanding and they didn’t allow a lot of consideration for individual differences. They weren’t all that understanding.
I reacted against that because it just didn’t seem nice. Maybe it’s necessary when handling huge numbers of people or dogs, but it went against the grain for me. That’s why now I try to get to know a dog as an individual—like people, they really are all different—and treat him as an individual as we progress through training.
Unfortunately, I still revert to my Air Force training once in a while when dealing with my children. Rather than considering individual differences and mitigating circumstances, I tend to see things too black-and-white. You’re either obeying or not and I’m much more likely to notice if you’re not than if you are.
People need even more consideration than dogs. Dogs don’t have the spiritual side that human nature does. A child thinks and feels and has a conscience. You can hurt a child’s feelings unnecessarily and unintentionally. You have to be concerned with so much more than a simple stimulus-response program.
Why? Because we’re not just after habitual obedience. We’re not just after correct action. It’s about attitude and heart and motive.
You can use motivations from brute force to bribery to get obedient actions out of your children. But neither of those methods will create a heart of love and obedience that has a right relationship with God and man.
Are you teaching your child to obey from the heart? Or are you just using behavior modification like Pavlov? With his dogs…