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Criticism of “Train your baby like dog”: Can you raise children like dogs?

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A new RTL broadcast causes a lot of discussion. In the “Train Your Baby Like a Dog” format, which was broadcast for the first time on Sunday (3.1.), Dog trainer Aurea Verebes helps two German families raise their children. Their approach is the concept of “positive reinforcement” as we know it from dog training.

Clicker training is often used to raise puppies. It works as follows: First, the dog is conditioned to receive a reward, i.e. treats, when a certain click signal is received. He combines the click with a feeling of reward.

Later, there will always be a click when the puppy is doing something right, for example executing a command correctly. The dog only gets a click and thus a reward if it behaves “correctly”. The training method does not include coercion or punishment. Only desirable behavior is rewarded.

Practice the desired behavior with constant reinforcement

Aurea Verebes now also wants to use this type of training to support parents in raising children. In the first program, the two children Pia and Ayla should learn that they get a reward if they do something right. Ayla, who is often aggressive towards her family, can, for example, choose between a raspberry, a hug or a Hoppe-Reiter game on mom’s lap if she interrupts her aggressive behavior. Two-year-old Pia is supposed to learn through clicker training to fall asleep in her bed at night instead of in her parents’ bed.

The episode is accompanied by a media education specialist. RTL also presented the concept of the program to the district youth welfare office in Cologne. The program was approved by the youth protection of the FSF for the daily program from twelve years.

According to RTL, “some experts in the USA, Great Britain and also in Germany apply [diese Methode] already on – with positive results. ”However: The program“ Train Your Baby Like a Dog ”, which was broadcast on British Channel 4 in August 2019, met with a lot of criticism. The format is degrading, says a call for an online petition. Over 35,000 people signed the request to discontinue the British broadcast.

Pedagogue says: “Absolutely superfluous”

In Germany, too, not everyone is convinced of clicker training for children. Even before the broadcast began, there was a petition on the Internet to prevent broadcasting because the format violates the human dignity of children, as reported by the editorial network Germany. As of January 7, more than 34,500 people have signed up to date.

The Lower Saxony State Media Authority has also received 113 complaints from viewers. The shipment will now be checked.

Education expert Katia Saalfrank, also known to many as the “RTL Supernanny”, sharply criticized the new program on Facebook. She asked in a post not to switch on the show. “Wanting to train children with rewards and punishments is absolutely unnecessary,” writes the teacher. “You could get the idea of ​​asking yourself whether those responsible have no idea about children and their nature and development.”

Methods like these could inhibit development for children and their families and even be harmful in the long term, she writes. Above all, she seems to be bothered by the fact that the format is designed for the functioning of children – and not for exploring problems in relationships within the family. It is “actually not that difficult if we take the effort and take the time to understand children better instead of unpacking the whistle and waving the treat.”

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