No, this is not an acceptable way to get your child to eat

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

Imagine having something you love and cherish, something that provides you with security and comfort trashed in front of your eyes. Sound unnecessary and upsetting?  Well, for some parents it's clearly not, especially if it means their child will eat. 

A recent video that's been viewed over 16 million times, shows an uncle trying to feed his nephew. When the toddler refuses, the uncle offers the food to a Mickey Mouse toy. However, when Mickey 'refuses', he responds by punching him repeatedly as the toddler watches on.

The toddler doesn't hesitate to take the food when it's offered next.  And who can blame him? The poor guy is likely scared to death.

"kids don't wanna eat… this is what you gotta do," user @rudyhernandez_ captioned the video along with laughing emojis.

Worryingly, some viewers thought that the video was funny. Scarily, some even followed suite, uploading their own versions in a trend that thousands have called disgusting, violent and traumatic.

I couldn't agree more.

I'm far from the perfect parent and I've made many mistakes along the way. I've offered bribes and given consequences when behaviour or "listening ears" aren't up to scratch. But I've never put my sons in a situation whereby they felt threatened.

I've never used violence or intimidation, even when they've tested me the most.

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What kind of environment would that provide them? How is that teaching them right from wrong?

Watching this video was enough to make my heart break. The look on the child's face shows that he understands the consequence of 'Mickey's' refusal, and it also reflects the fear he must have felt when watching that play out.

"Little children don't know the difference between fact or fiction, real or imagination," says psychologist, Marny Lishman. "Beating up a toy (particularly a well loved one) as a learning tool causes great psychological trauma for the child and isn't teaching them what the parent thinks it is."

Lishman notes that, regardless of whether it's done in good fun or whether the parent is angry, this action role models violence.

"It's often not what parents say to their children, but it's their actions that kids absorb in their formative years," she says. "If these parents are doing this in a public setting, it frightens me as to what they are doing privately."

Most of us can agree that the video is completely inappropriate and tasteless. In fact, Twitter user Christopher Duett was so disgusted that he posted the perfect video in response.

He captioned the clip, which has since gone viral, saying: "Hey dumb f***ers using stuffed animals to exhibit negative reinforcement to get your kids to do something, watch this..."

His tactic for getting his son to eat is gentle, caring and very effective. Rather than "refusing" a food offering, his son's penguin toy tries it and likes it. The result? So does his son!

No surprises there.

So, let's move on from resorting to or suggesting any tactics that aren't positive for our children.

There's only one thing we can take from that initial video and that's the concept of refusal. Refusal to accept that this is ever okay.