You might not think training a 10,000-pound killer whale to jump
out of the water and potty-training your toddler have much in
Chuck Tompkins, a longtime whale trainer at SeaWorld and father
of two, would beg to differ.
Along with Ken Blanchard, Thad Lacinak and Jim Ballard, Tompkins
has written a new parenting book, Whale Done Parenting,
(Berrett-Koehler Publishing), which applies techniques he used for
years with whales to raising well-adjusted and well-behaved
"People train kids to have temper tantrums," says Tompkins, now
curator of zoological operations for SeaWorld Parks &
Entertainment, SeaWorld's parent company. "They don't naturally
In a desperate attempt to end the screaming and crying, parents
are often tempted to give in to a child's demands-and that's all it
takes, Tompkins says.
"You've stopped the behavior in the short term, but you've also
reinforced it," he says."
Tompkins says getting your child through the candy aisle and
getting a killer whale to fetch a ball all come down to the same
"If you reinforce behaviors, they increase; if you ignore them,
they decrease," Tompkins says.
But remember, that advice goes both ways. So it's not enough to
just ignore your child's bad behavior; remember to reward good
"A lot of times in our minds, we see things going the way we
want and we ignore it," Tompkins says. "Our kids are being quiet
and (we think), 'Good, that's the way they're supposed to be,' and
don't say anything. Big mistake."
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