The hugely popular parents on YouTube's "The LaBrant Fam" are being vilified for posting an "April Fools' Day prank" in which they tell their 6-year-old daughter they are giving away the family dog. The devastated child sobs and hides her face from the camera.
Her mother, Savannah LaBrant, is seen smiling broadly as her daughter weeps inconsolably. Then, the parents tell her it's an "April Fools" joke and they aren't giving away Carl, their fluffy Pomeranian.
Child psychiatry experts told InsideEdition.com that lying to children can have devastating effects on their development. And it took only minutes for social media to blow up with posters calling the video cruel and abusive.
The episode "went too far," Maureen Healy, author of "The Emotionally Healthy Child" and parent coach at "Growing Happy Kids," told InsideEdition.com. "Mom was laughing and smiling as her daughter was crying because she told her they were giving away Carl, the family dog," Healy said. "How can a child begin to trust you when you prank her about one of her most beloved family members, and tell her that you're giving it away? This can really hurt a child."
Cole and Savannah LaBrant, who live in Southern California, have more than 8.7 million followers on YouTube. Everleigh is Savannah's daughter from a previous relationship and also has her own Instagram account. Baby Posie is couple's biological daughter.
This isn't the first time their series has been criticized. In August, after posting they had to evacuate their home because of wildfires blazing across their state, neighbors posted there were no evacuation orders given in their area and accused the couple of profiting from the losses of others.
The channel's April 1 post was titled "We Have To Give Our Puppy Away ... Saying Goodbye Forever :("
"We didn't think Everleigh would be this sad about it," the couple wrote under a photo of Everleigh crying in her mother's arms.
“We just had to inform her of some bad news and sad news that she didn’t know about,” her stepfather says to the camera. Savannah solemnly explains that Carl, their puppy, isn't getting the attention he needs, and when left alone, "he'll just poop and pee all over the place." The family is constantly busy filming their YouTube series, she says, and doesn't have enough time for the puppy.
Her stepfather tells the child she will be in charge of picking Carl's new owners. The little girl sits with her arms around the tiny creature, dripping tears. Everleigh doesn't speak, and at one point, buries her head in the family's couch cushions.
"Why would parents want to make a child distressed?" clinical psychologist Asmaira Maker told InsideEdition.com. Everleigh "becomes anxious and depressed and said," she said, because "something that she is very attached to its being suddenly, abruptly, being taken away from her. Not only that, she's being given the responsibility of giving it away."
It is paramount for children to learn trust, and to feel love and protected by their parents, she said. Otherwise, little ones fear "the world could fall apart tomorrow. The sky could fall down."
Cole and Savannah should ask themselves "Is this really the message we want to be giving our children at such a young age?" she added.
The couple has not publicly commented on the fallout from their video. The comments section has been disabled for the episode. An email sent to the couple by InsideEdition.com received no reply.