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Learning from Penguins

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I took my seven year old son to a marine life educational and entertainment park for the day. We went to the killer whale show, the dolphin show, and nally the penguin show. The penguin's name was Fat Freddie. He did amazing things. He jumped off a twenty -foot diving board; he bowled with his nose; he counted with his ippers; he even jumped through a hoop of re. I had my arm around my son, enjoying the show, when the trainer asked Freddie to get something. Freddie went and got it, and brought it right back. I thought, "Hey, I ask my son to get something for me, and he wants to have a discussion with me for twenty minutes, and then he doesn't want to do it!" I knew my son was smarter than this penguin.

I went up to the trainer afterward and asked, "How did you get Freddie to do all these really neat things?" The trainer looked at my son and then she looked at me and said, "Unlike parents, whenever Freddie does anything like what I want him to do, I notice him! I give him a hug, and I give him a sh." The light went on in my head. Whenever my son DID what I wanted him to do, I paid little attention to him, because I was a busy person. However when he DIDN' T do what I wanted him to do, I gave him a lot of attention because I didn't want to raise a bad kid! I was inadvertently teaching him to be a little monster in order to get my attention. Since that day, I have tried hard to notice my son's good acts and fair attempts (although I don't toss him a sh, since he doesn't care for them) and to downplay the mistakes. We're both better people for it.


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