Editor's note

You wouldn’t train a baby to pee outside, or check if their nose is wet when they are sick. But a Channel 4 documentary this week told parents that what’s good for training a puppy is good for raising a child. That includes training children to sit obediently and rewarding their good behaviour with treat foods and coos of “good boy!”

If that sounds barking mad, it is, says Amy Brown, a professor of child public health at Swansea University. But the dog trainer’s approach to parenting isn’t just silly, it’s potentially very harmful for a child’s development. One of the more worrying recommendations includes ignoring a crying baby and isolating them in a separate room at night, like a naughty dog that won’t stop barking.

Babies, like dogs, are limited in their ability to process and communicate what’s happening around them. But unlike dogs, babies are more likely to develop anxiety and emotional problems when they grow up as a result of this treatment. Isolating infants in a separate room goes against the best safety advice for parents. Conditioning children to behave a certain way, without them fully understanding why, can foster confusion and insecurity. Using food treats as a reward can cause kids to develop an unhealthy relationship with food that may end in obesity.

Responsive parenting – meeting a child’s emotional needs with hugs, love and empathy – treats babies like the tiny humans they are. In the long run, research has shown it helps children grow up emotionally healthy and with stronger bonds to their parents.

Meanwhile August 22 is the day chosen by the UN to mark religious persecution around the world, which is still rife. And England and Australia’s cricket teams resume their hostilities as the Ashes moves to Headingly in Leeds for the Third test. Let’s hope nobody gets hurt.

Jack Marley

Commissioning Editor

Top stories


Dog training for babies? Only if you want to raise kids who are anxious and unsympathetic

Amy Brown, Swansea University

Clicker training and treats aren't the way to raise a healthy and happy child.

Rohingya refugees in paddy field behind the border of Bangladesh in 2017. EPA-EFE/ABIR ABDULLAH

Five reasons the world needs a wake-up call on religious persecution

Ewelina Ochab, University of Kent

It will take a global effort to slow the rise in atrocities against religious groups.

Jofra Archer takes a breather during his spell of bowling to Australian captain Steve Smith. Mike Egerton/PA Wire/PA Images

The Ashes: Jofra Archer, Steve Smith and cricket’s dilemma of balancing safety with media spectacle

Richard Thomas, Swansea University

Extreme pace bowling has been thrilling crowds but scaring batters since the Bodyline tour of the 1930s.

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