Channel 4 aired its new documentary “Train Your Baby Like a Dog” on August 20, in which a expert dog trainer encouraged parents to use dog training techniques with their young children to shape their behavior.
There are calls to cancel the program, and the calls are correct. Parents who follow the suggestion and apply dog training to their babies may cause serious consequences to their babies.
What the program guest suggested
The expert dog trainer (why should the dog trainer care for baby training anyway) told parents to put a child in a different room when they “misbehaved” and bribe them with foods to encourage good behavior.
According to him, good behaviors include sitting obediently on the floor like a dog ad being called a good boy or girl, while bad behaviors may include waking and crying at midnight.
What’s not scientific in the suggestion
Babies and toddlers certainly don’t wake and cry at midnight to challenge you – they cannot control their emotions and behaviors and their brains are not fully developed. Loving support are needed to help them understand and regulate their emotions and behavior as they grow and learn.
So what should you do when your baby starts to cry again and brings you another sleepless night? In contrast to the program’s advice, evidence suggests that parents should be responsive to their child’s needs.
Being responsive includes recognizing when a child is tired and needs help sleeping, or is overwhelmed and needs help calming down. Studies suggest that children with love care from their parents tend to have fewer behavioral problems, higher IQ scores and better social interactions with their peers.
Meeting the babies’ needs in a gentle way helps them develop confidence, self-assurance and emotional well-being. By contrast, praising or punishing babies based on their behaviors can lead to higher risk of developing anxiety and other emotional problems in babies.
If the babies only know they will receive different attitudes when they do different behaviors, it’s easier for them to constantly worry about their behaviors, because they do not get help from their parents about why they do something wrong, and how to do it right.
In a nutshell, dog training is extremely improper for babies. Feeding your baby with your love is better than refusing eye contact, or cuddling, or other behaviors that may increase the baby’s anxiety.