When a young elephant is being trained, it is tied to a huge chain that is staked to the ground. The young elephant will struggle against the chain for a long time. When the elephant learns that the chain will not break and the stake will not move, it will stop struggling against his bonds. As the elephant gets older, a trainer can tie twine around the elephant’s leg and tie it to a pencil pushed into the ground. The elephant will not attempt to break the twine or move the pencil, because it has learned that it cannot be moved. If the trainer were to try to teach a grown elephant about the immovability of a stake, he would have a difficult time.
When Samantha’s son turned 12, he began to get stronger than her. He had always hit her before, but now she was starting to become scared of him. Samantha decided that she was going to crack down on her son’s aggressive behavior. The next time her son threatened to hit her, Samantha told him to go to his room. Samantha’s son responded by breaking holes in the wall and beating up his mother.
Jamie could tell that her son was going to be a big boy. His father had been big and violent, also. She left him after two years of physical abuse. Jamie was determined that her son was not going to be violent. Her little son was easily agitated and angered. She knew that it was hard for him to control his anger, so she helped him want to control his anger. Every time her son expressed anger in an aggressive manner, the son received a very quick consequence. He was praised for expressing emotions in a good way. It was hard for the son to control his anger, but he soon learned that it was harder to receive a consequence. By the time her son was 8, he had gained more self-control and was able to control the way he handled his strong emotions. He knew through years of experience that it was better to control his anger than to receive a consequence every time he was aggressive.