Have you seen Channel 4’s latest parenting show?
If you haven’t seen it the chances are you’ve heard about it, or more specifically the controversy surrounding it.
How to train your baby like a dog sees dog trainer and animal behaviour expert Jo-Rosie Haffenden transfer her dog training skills to the children of parents desperate to get a handle on their kids’ behaviour.
She uses a clicker more commonly used in the training of dogs to demonstrate how to identify and reward good behaviour, and uses the same methods at mealtimes that she applies to her dogs and their bowls.
Before the show even aired 25,000 people are reported to have signed a petition branding the show ‘dehumanising’, and since then complaints have flooded social media calling the show ‘utterly irresponsible’ and an ‘appalling failure’. And I’m sorry, but I simply don’t understand the controversy.
How to train your baby like a dog: what’s the big deal?
I watched the first episode from start to finish – unlike, I suspect, many of the people waxing lyrical about it on social media – and I simply don’t understand what the big deal is.
Perhaps it’s because I’m a journalist myself and I know that using the most sensationalist headline – or in this case title – is simply how it works but having watched the programme, Jo-Rosie’s approach made perfect sense to me.
Ignore bad behaviour, reward good behaviour and build an environment in which the child feels safe and secure is the gist of it, all of which she manages to do by treating the children as she does her dogs (don’t worry, no bones or kennels are involved).
There are no punishments, no naughty steps or corners and no shouting: just simple techniques to help the families involved lead a happier home life. Yet criticisms include ‘taking a child’s favourite object and using it to bribe a child into doing a chore or a task’ (I’m sorry, but isn’t that what parenting is about?)
It wasn’t all that long ago we were leaving babies to ‘cry it out’ thanks to the likes of Gina Ford’s sleep training techniques, and plonking them on naughty steps on the advice of Super Nanny, both of which, in my opinion, are far more dehumanising than treating a child with the same respect you would a dog.
So, I’ll be watching the next episode with interest, and if you haven’t seen it yet I’d recommend reserving judgement until you have. Because you never know what you might learn!
What do you think? Have you seen or heard about How to train your baby like a dog? I’d love to know your point of view!