The instructor called it puppy training.  We found it to be people training and the lessons were valuable.

Before we had children, my husband and I got a puppy and decided to take it to puppy training classes. By the end of the classes we realized they hadn’t been puppy training classes at all!  The instructor didn’t teach our puppies anything!  Instead, he taught us how to teach our puppy. 

The most informative class was the orientation.  The instructor taught us to how to understand dogs, their needs, and how best to communicate with them.  He also taught us about a dog’s sign of submission.  When a dog is corrected or scolded it shows submission by giving a simple lick of its tongue.  Giving the sign of submission means the dog ‘got it’ and that he/she is acknowledging his/her master.  The instructor said it’s very important to stop the discipline or command at that point.  Otherwise, we’d be over-correcting.  Over-correcting too much could cause personality and/or behavior problems in the puppy. 

It wasn’t long after we got a puppy that we finally became parents.  That lesson on the sign of submission has come in handy many times, since.  You see, people give signs of submission when they’re corrected and disciplined, too.  Just like puppies, people can also be affected by too much over-correcting. 

Avoiding over-correction is something I strive for when I discipline my children.  I have a tendency to work myself into loud and lengthy lectures when I lose my patience with my kids.  What starts as a reasonalbe act of discipline or correction becomes over-correction by the time I’m done.  It’s best for me to watch for their signs of submission indicating they ‘got it’, and then promptly stop myself from continuing.  Continuing with my verbal correction is over-correction and can lead to anger or hurt them emotionally, both of which could lead to other problems. 

According to our puppy training classes, we were to move on after receiving a sign of sumission from our puppy – not continue with our correction or discipline.  Moving on after submission means giving positive reinforcement for submissive behavior and going on to the next task. 

So what is a human sign of submission?  It might be a look in the other person’s eyes, change of facial expression, the face becomes red with embarassment, their gaze looks away, or a sign of nervousness (fidgeting, fiddling with their fingers, etc.).  The sign of submission is different in each of my children. 

I was reminded of this earlier today when someone corrected  me.  I immediately apologized, acknowledged the correction, and thanked them for the information.  Recognizing my submission, the man softened his attitude and sent me on my way in a kind manner.  However, the woman remained authoritative and kept a stiff front, causing me to become a little irritated and in need of a Christianity-check!  It made me  aware of how important it is to be mindful of signs of submission in others.  After all, a sign of submission means the other person is submitting to our correction and/or authority.  Isn’ that what we’re seeking?  If so, then mission accomplished.  Give positive reinforcement and move right along.   Most likely, favorable results will follow!