Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Misplaced Identity

On the commute back from work, I heard this infomercial spot on a local radio station that made me wonder if J's pediatrician might really be a dog trainer. The woman on the radio introduced herself as a celebrity dog trainer.

As far as I understand, this describes an individual who has made a career out of training dogs owned by celebrities. I am not aware that there are professional "child trainers" - celebrity or otherwise. So anyway, this woman is on the air giving listeners a quick tip on housebreaking toy-dogs or other dogs that weigh less than 15 pounds.

She advises dog-owners to put food in the bowl for the dog and let it sit there for no more than twenty minutes. If the dog eats great otherwise its tough luck for him. The food will be taken away and the next window of opportunity will come around only at the next meal time. The idea is to reinforce to the dog that meal time occurs at a certain frequency and lasts no more than 20 minutes each time. She goes on to add that allowing food to be available all day for the dog to eat is certainly not going to result in a house-broken dog.

Now to J's pediatrician. If you replace dog with child, there is absolutely no difference in the advise she offered me as far as getting J to fuss less and eat better. I refused to pay any attention to the doctor and kept following J around the house with food, as she occupied herself with a variety of activities - dancing, singing, playing, jump-roping, reading, hiding under the blanket to name a few. I did not give up with the last morsel of food was put into her mouth and her stomach was full. The process took between one to two hours setting me dangerously outside the recommended "twenty minute" window.

Her doctor, told me in no uncertain terms that I was doing the worst thing possible by letting J get away with such blatantly non-compliant behavior - soon she would be trying to push the limits in other areas of her life to see if I would cave in similarly and let her have her way. In short, I was making sure J would never be "house-broken" or learn how to eat. This was a couple of years ago. I am glad to report that J is not nearly as fussy or fidgety at meal times as she once used to be. We manage to sit in one place and finish our meal.

It seems to me that the rules for dogs and those for human children might need to be a little different - while both are God's creatures, they are not exactly identical. It was a strange experience listening to a dog-trainer who sounded like she could have easily traded places with J's pediatrician.

1 comment:

ggop said...

Pediatricians recommend schedules as early as 1 month old baby :-) That said I saw a 70 year old specialist in neurosciences dept yesterday and she said just continue feeding baby throughout the day. I was heartened to hear that.

I'm glad J outgrew her long meal times. Its just a phase for most kids.