i love you
alex, the parrot
a parrot training technique is rivalry. parents and children may greatly benefit from it.
parrot experts, such as dr. irene pepperberg, have recognized that “one on one” training has limits. thus, to train parrots, rivalry training was instituted. rival training involves bringing an additional person in the room to act as the parrot’s rival or competitor. in this setting, the parrot observes the teacher-rival interactions and reactions. the parrot learns to incorporate the words and actions into their own behavior. for example, the parrot can learn that certain words or reactions can make their teacher happy. the parrot, wanting to make the teacher happy, will copy the rival’s actions.
this rivalry concept lends itself to teaching children. parents may want to bring their children in settings where additional people are present. children will then have opportunity to observe parents interacting with other parents, children, neighbors and workers. these interactions can be used to teach children how to behave. likewise, this concept can work with animals as well. children can learn from the parent who to properly interact with pets.
thus, parents, when with their children, should remember that their children are learning while observing these interactions. thus, knowingly they are being observed, parents should act morally and values based when engaging in these activities. for example, acting in a respectful manner to others.
this technique has been studied with respect to children within the autism spectrum.
in an article, it was noted “social attention is core to social functioning and may reflect affinities, and promote, the acquisition of social skills. in normally developing children social attention is sought from an early age and is generally reflected through visual attention. ” nature.com
a study involved placing autistic children in a room with a dog trainer and a dog. it was found ” the results show that asd (autism spectrum disorder) children are sensitive to the direction of (visual) social attention and may act, physically and visually, in order to regain it. when the animal trainer concentrated on the dog, the overall visual attention of the asd children increased, suggesting a heightened awareness towards their environment. they oriented more towards the animal trainer and the dog, contrarily to the control group. ” another conclusion was that ” asd children do care about and seek human visual attention. they show an ability to adapt their social behaviour, which questions whether their known deficits in social competencies are hard wired or whether the deficits are in their expression. ” nature.com
does this work?
dr. irene pepperberg’s most famous colleague was alex, an african grey parrot. it is reported that his final words before dying was “i love you.” did rivalry training teach alex to express his emotions? dr. pepperberg’s reaction in recounting may answer that question.
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