a very good dog

Tech & Media

‘Train Your Baby Like a Dog’ Parenting: It’s Real and People are Angry

Aug 20, 2019

Kids love How to Train a Dragon. That’s a fairly well-believed truth.

But do kids love it when you train them like dogs?

Relevant Reading: Are You a Free-Range or Helicopter Parent? My Advice is to Get Over It

That’s unclear, because up until recently, the “train your baby like a dog” technique wasn’t widely known or practiced. It’s also unclear if anyone else employs this technique outside of the animal behaviour specialist Jo-Rosie Haffenden, the host of Channel 4’s new show Train Your Baby Like a Dog. She says she used dog-training techniques to raise her son. 

The internet, to put it mildly, isn’t too happy about the parenting style.

Haffenden says, "If everyone parented their child the same way we're training our dogs, we'd end up with much more caring and compassionate human beings."

What this translates to is reward-based click training, a very common approach to training dogs to behave. 

Parents of autistic children take issue with this, and have started a petition to get the show cancelled. It has already been signed nearly 25,000 times and the show hasn't even aired yet. 

On the petition page, the group writes, "There are also reinforcers in clicker training such as taking a child's favourite object and using it to bribe a child into doing a chore or task." 

Also, the petition notes, "Clicker training is used in the behaviourial therapy Applied Behaviourial Analysis, used on autistic children. It is shown to cause PTSD in adults that were subjected to it." 

In the trailer for the show, Haffenden says, "I believe this will work," but parents worldwide aren't so sure — in fact, they're angry. They don't understand why parents should train their kids to be submissive and docile. 

Others were just really surprised to read the title of the show. 

Part of the training is rewarding good behaviour with treats, and using praise cues like "good boy" or "good girl" when they follow instructions. Haffenden says in the show, "Whether or not I’m working with a dog or a child, they all want to be good boys."

And not everyone is alarmed by this brand-new parenting style. There are some who think kids could benefit from it. 

And because it's so new, and it's hard to know if it works or not, some people are interested in letting it ride. 

But like free-range, helicopter and snow-plow parenting, this is just another broad parenting technique in a sea of broad parenting techniques. The question is: is it for you? 

Would you try this? Or is it, as the petition states: "dehumanising to children"?

We promise not to click a clicker when you've commented below.

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