This column is the opinion of a 3 year old African Grey Parrot named “Simba” who has an extremely high intelligence level. While he does not possess a degree from any college or university, he does have a strong opinion of himself and feels that he is the best candidate to answer the complex questions of today’s discerning pets…and the humans they own…
I must say I thoroughly enjoyed your last column about “Operant Conditioning”. I was fascinated on how a wild animal can modify its behaviors with the association of a “treat” when it has not been domesticated. I know this works with dogs, cats and other pets, but it would be fantastic if it could somehow work with my adolescent son. The presence of high school has him dropping grades and he seems a bit distracted. If you have any advice on how to get him focused I would certainly appreciate it.
Focused on Distraction
Au contraire my friend…Operant Conditioning does work on humans! I use this method on my Administrative Assistant all the time. I wave a dollar bill in front of her while she is writing my column and it instantly reminds her that “time is money”!
Now, as far as teenaged sons are concerned I would assume that the last thing you want to do is wave a video game in front of him while he is trying to do homework…so, let’s approach this in a more conventional manner. Teenagers are very complex creatures. They are in between being a child and being a young adult. So you must approach parenthood in a most diplomatic fashion. Thank goodness I do not have any chickadees of my own; I give you parent folks all the credit in the world on this one. Rewards are stimulating and should be in proportion to the behavior that is expected (let me know if I’m losing you here). For instance, you wouldn’t buy your son a brand new $3500.00 gaming computer if he takes out the garbage. That is totally ludicrous! However, how about a reasonable allowance at the end of the week if he gets all of his chores done everyday…now that I can handle. With good grades at the end of each semester, you can host a party for him and a few friends. Those are adequate stimuli.
So you see, when it comes to Operant Conditioning in humans, it’s not much different than in animals. I hope this helps you out a little. Now I must get going…my human is waving an almond in front of me…looks like I’m going to have to put my little basketball in the hoop for her again.
Simba is owned by Christina Giordano. If you have any questions you would like Simba to answer, please email them to: Ask [email protected]