Train Your Baby Like a Dog: New UK Show Sparks Outrage
There are a lot of controversial training methods parents use, but one in particular is currently at the center of a heated debate. It’s all thanks to Train Your Baby Like a Dog, a new show airing this week on Channel 4 in the UK.
The premise of the show is simple. Dog trainer and behaviourist Jo-Rosie Haffenden believes parents should apply dog training reward techniques to their kids to get them to behave the way they want them to. For example, one method includes “clicker training,” which is a method of positive reinforcement training used on animals, according to the American Kennel Club. The clicker, or whistle, tells animals that whatever they’re doing at the time they hear the click or whistle is correct and will earn a reward. In the pilot season, Haffenden tests her method with a toddler with sleep problems and a tantrum-prone three-year-old. Check out clips from the series below.
Needless to say, the upcoming series has sparked outrage from parents. A petition on Change.org to cancel the show has already received more than 20,000 signatures. The page was started by Autistic Improvement Meets (AIM), a not-for-profit organization designed to enable families of children with autism to “get out into the community and socialize in an accepting, inclusive environment with like-minded peers.” AIM provides support and advice to families and individuals, promotes acceptance of autism through education and awareness initiatives and protects those with autism.
In the petition, AIM specifically calls out Haffenden’s use of clicker training on the children. It says when clicker therapy was used on individuals with autism in a previous study, adults who were subjected to it showed signs of PTSD.
“Children are not dogs…The children, as far as we know, in this show are not autistic, however no child should be treated like this,” the petition states. “The children are shown no dignity or respect in clicker training behaviorism, and will be a prime target for grooming in the future, as they will have been taught to comply to an adult’s demands, regardless of their own comfort or autonomy for reward.”
Train Your Baby Like a Dog is set to air on Tuesday, Aug. 20 on Channel 4. AIM is calling on the network to consider its arguments against the show, and in turn cancel the series altogether.