How to Make Parenting a Positive Experience for You and Your Kids
Publication date: 11/01/2009
Bestseller over 30,000+ copies sold
Redirecting Your Thinking about Parenting
AS A PARENT, have you ever had a child throw a tantrum or refuse to go to bed on time, eat good foods, or share toys? Do you find yourself scolding or yelling at your child and overusing the word no? Have you despaired of training your child to use the potty? Do you struggle with getting a child to do homework or chores? Do you deal with teasing, fighting, or poor manners? Do you need better methods for setting limits and handling time-outs and discipline?
Parenting can be trying. As challenges pile up, it’s easy for a mom or dad to get into a rut and become locked into a negative, downward spiral that makes the relationship unpleasant for both parent and child. At such times it’s difficult even to imagine that there might be a better way. But that better way is precisely what this book offers. Simply put, it’s a way to feel good as a parent—good about yourself, good about your relationship with your child, and good about life at home again.
Whale Done Parenting contains a formula that is positive and based on principles that are scientifically validated. Most important of all, it works! This is a book about bringing to the parenting of children the behavioral principles that have succeeded spectacularly in marine mammal training. The principle is a familiar one: Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. It’s actually simple, but it is anything but easy.
Much of the book focuses on children up to the age of five, but later chapters explain how the same techniques can be applied to older children, including teenagers. Indeed, the Whale Done approach works with people of all ages because it is based on universal principles of behavioral science.
Most new parents model their approach on what their own parents did. In some cases this turns out okay; more often these parents perpetuate the negative aspects of parenting they remember. The results can be disastrous. The principles and techniques presented in Whale Done Parenting are taken not from memories of childhood or armchair speculation, but from solid behavioral science principles.
As we described in the first book, Whale Done!, modern marine mammal training is based on positive reinforcement. It wasn’t always so. In the early 1970s animal training was a different world. At that time, there was very little science in the approaches animal trainers used.
Animal training at that time was a male-dominated profession. In most cases, individual trainers forged their own styles and strategies with limited success and with limited attempt to cooperate or share ideas with their fellow trainers. Back then we weren’t purposely ignoring the science of operant conditioning—we simply didn’t know what operant conditioning was!
SeaWorld animal trainers began to think there must be a better way. They undertook a thorough examination of the field of behavioral science. The result was that Sea-World was instrumental in pioneering the reinforcement-based training now used throughout the world.
We were very limited with the kinds of reinforcement that we used. The use of one reinforcer—food—was limited in its ability to develop deep, lasting relationships with the animals. Gradually SeaWorld trainers—using a wide variety of things whales liked, to reward and reinforce desired behaviors—evolved stronger bonds that eventually allowed us to get in the water with the animals. This led to the spectacular performances you see from these animals today.
As Thad and Chuck were learning about training killer whales, Ken Blanchard was observing the negative effects of command-and-control leadership on people in organizations. Ken was suggesting that the key to developing people was to catch them doing something right. Serendipity brought Thad, Chuck, Ken, and Jim together, and the result was Whale Done! The Power of Positive Relationships.
Since its publication in 2003 Whale Done! not only has achieved extraordinary success, but it also has changed lives in the process. It’s a story of how a man established good relationships with his family and company by applying the same set of principles used by professionals to train killer whales. In the years since bringing out Whale Done! we have often been asked, “Can the principles featured in that book be applied to parenting young children?” It became very clear that a second book was needed that would provide a resounding yes to that query. Applying Whale Done training to children is a natural process. In fact, it’s much easier and more lasting than with adults.
Whale Done is much more than a set of techniques. It is an entire philosophy, one that is sorely needed in the world today. Simply stated, what we call Whale Done is a way of looking at people and seeing the best that is in them. Our hope is that this book will educate and inspire mothers, fathers, grandparents, and others who help raise children to look at their roles with new eyes. And we trust that as you read the story of Amy and Matt and their son Josh, you will recognize what you knew all along: there’s power in being positive.
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