Maybe you read this New York Times article about how the author used what she learned from researching a book about animal trainers to get her husband to stop hovering over her in the kitchen? It pretty much boils down to this:
"The central lesson I learned from exotic animal trainers is that I should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don't. After all, you don't get a sea lion to balance a ball on the end of its nose by nagging. The same goes for the American husband."
So this afternoon I thought I'd try this tactic on the American Kid. Jackson's behavior had been verging on aggressive-psychotic for a couple of days, mostly because one of his best friends had moved away and the only thing he could think of to occupy himself was to stand behind me while I was working on the computer and say, "Mom? Mom? Mom?" until I finally said, "WHAT?" and then he'd say, "You're stupid."
This because I asked him to spit out his gum and tell me what he wanted for lunch.
But it was nearly two p.m. and he really did need to eat something beside spearmint Orbit*. So, I cleverly decided to ignore the behavior I didn't like and reward behavior that worked!
Of course, we were at the point where none of his behavior was working.
So I shut him in his room.
I held tight to his doorknob while he yanked from the other side and cried, "YOU'RE A MEANIE!" for a good two or three minutes.
It wasn't long before he broke. "FINE!" he yelled through the door, "I'LL DRINK YOUR STUPID MILKSHAKE."
I made him a Monkey Flip, which consists of banana, peanut or almond butter, vanilla ice cream, chocolate chips, milk, protein powder (if you have it), and a few ice cubes just so the blender can lurch out of your wet hands at unexpected moments.
I poured it into his Lord of the Rings light-up goblet, gave him a straw, wrapped him up in his lap robe, and cuddled him up on my lap while advising him on how best to avoid an ice cream headache. I told him I liked how he calmed himself down. After wiping his tears on my t-shirt he drank his Monkey Flip with perfect docility, pausing at one point to remark quietly, "This is pretty good."
So, I don't know, I think he just wanted me to quit working and pay attention to him.
But perhaps, over time, the genius of Shamu will help keep us all from killing each other.
*Which contains Xylitol!