The latest Milk Bone ad is troubling me. Each time I see it, my annoyance increases. I’m not against dogs, although I don’t own one, but apparently I’m emotionally attached to this commercial. You know, the one where the mother gets home from work and greets her dog with a Milk Bone dog biscuit. Have a look:
Let’s follow this path in terms of parenting, because there are many lessons in the world of dogs that also apply to children. Now here me out, I’m not suggesting our children are animals and need to trained as such (although I sometimes feel like a zoo keeper!). Our children are God’s gift to us, we endeavor to raise men and women who will change this world, and we are to have dominion over all the animals. Uh oh, my apologies to my pet-parent friends who would counter that their dog is like an equal member of the family. .. Ummm, Can we concede that a very large aspect of both pet and child parenting is training? Agreed?
The tagline reveals, “Nothing says I’m happy to see you too, like a Milk Bone biscuit.” Really?!
Doggie, upon hearing the familiar click of the key turning, bounds over to mom and showers her with loving licks because she has been truly missed all day. Would that dog still greet mom day after day for her delicious company? Hopefully. Possibly the pup is salivating for the gain of the biscuit. Digest this: How about our children? Do you ever catch yourself saying things like “If you’re good at the grocery store mommy will get you a cookie.” Is your child behaving similarly, salivating only for cookie? Or because of a genuine hunger to please you.
Would you need to keep candy in your pockets to encourage your children to come to you? Notice that neither son nor husband appeared to welcome mom home; maybe she needed to keep a stash of goodies at the door or give out gift cards.
Here is the real test- Stop Supplying Biscuits! Does your pet still come? Even more important, do your children? Does the cookie crumble when it’s futile to strive for bounty?
But wait, you implore, these are rewards! Parenting books, teachers, and talk shows encourage us to use reward charts. Stickers, toys and candy are all endorsed by SuperNanny to teach appropriate behavior. Yes, they are often successful. There is a very fine line, however, between rewarding and bribery.
Interestingly, the music underlay sings “I can see your heart through your eyes”. Now that is some good parenting advice! Present your best self to your family. Entice them to your side with contagious smiles and laughter, not a short-lived sugar rush. Your eyes will inspire them more than any amount of charts or stickers, and have lasting results.
In my next post I’ll be discussing what I believe is the proper use of reward charts. I’ll show you how to reach the hearts of your children to crave honor, not cookies.
What do you think is the difference between a reward and a bribe?