Monday, March 9, 2009

Nothing in Life is Free

I just watched a three or four year old girl have a complete meltdown in Starbucks because her dad wouldn't buy her a pastry. Screaming, sobbing, stomping her feet. What did Dad do? Pulled her into his lap and gave her hugs and kisses.

I am going to be a mean mom.*

For the last three and a half years, we've practiced a version of something called Nothing in Life is Free with Pace. In its broadest sense, NILIF is about reducing manipulative behavior in dogs and reinforcing a dog's (submissive) role in your relationship. We use it more to convince Pace the world isn't going to kill him. Basically, we ignore the bad behavior. We've taught Pace a few tricks and praise him to high heaven when he performs them. But when he's shaking/drooling/freaking out in general, we ignore him. We don't comfort him, we don't praise him. If need be, we'll put him out in the back yard to prevent Lake Pace from forming in our living room. We aren't punishing him for his "bad" behavior; we just aren't acknowledging it. The dog eventually realizes that "bad" behavior doesn't get results, and stops those behaviors. Its working pretty well, too.

What, you think its mean to apply dog training methods to a kid? Obviously I'm not talking about infants here, but that three year old at Starbucks? I would have ignored her.

*I'm pretty sure my mom, whether she did it consciously or not, practiced something like this with me. I don't think she was mean, so I'm not really too concerned about it.


  1. you could do what my mom did, and use my fears against me- like when i was 4 and hid in clothes racks when we to stores, and when the beeping system for employees would go off, she would say it was the incredible hulk coming after kids who didn't stay with their moms. and she did this at eye level which was even worse.

    then again nilf sounds like a great idea. maybe you should go with that...

  2. Evil children. And stupid Dad. Your work with Pace is bound to pay off :)