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A new trend has popped up around the web that has some wondering whether it could cause long-term psychological damage to their babies.
Videos have been tweeted of parents hitting stuffed animals of children who refuse to eat, essentially spooking them into eating the formerly rejected food.
One tweet shows a child shaking his head “no” at a spoonful of food. It’s at this point that the child’s father grabs a Micky Mouse Toy, and begins to beat it with a closed fist against the dinner table.
The child glimpses back at his father, and then eats the spoonful without any hesitation.
Multiple videos have popped up online since the original went viral. Some children have a look of shock and awe on their face, others don’t react too much.
One childhood consultant interviewed by CTV News, Julie Romanowski, called the act “disturbing,” and confirmed what many fears, calling it a “psychological punishment.”
“To have anybody beating anything for any reason is a hard ‘no’ when it comes to children,” said Romanowski. “Kids absorb everything.”
“I would think that a majority of children would probably think, ‘Oh gosh, that’s coming to me next or one day,’” Romanowski explained.
Romanowski stated that the fear-based approach communicates to a baby that “if you don’t do what I say, something bad is going to happen to you, your teddy, or whatever.”
She also says that the tactic also communicates to babies that hurting someone, or damaging items, is okay when you want to get a point across. The aggressive tactic, claims Romanowski, can form the “foundational basis of bullying.”
Though the trend has gone viral lately and has been called a “new” form of feeding, the principle of damaging something personal to a child in order to get them to eat is a practice as old as dirt.
According to the CTV, the tactic mirrors “whipping boys,” a term that was used as far back as the mid 17th century. They were real children who were taught alongside young royalty, who were punished for the royals’ behaviour. Though the evidence for this practice is dodgy, it has become a common part of parlance.