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Public Shaming: A Parental No-No?
7/8/2013 1:59:22 PM

The increased popularity and visibility of social media has become an alluring venue for parents who want to discipline their children through public humiliation. A mother in Ohio made her foul-mouthed daughter post a cover photo of herself with an ‘X’ over her mouth and the phrase I do not know how to keep my mouth shut. In Florida, a girl’s parents made her stand at an intersection for more than an hour holding a sign that said, ‘I’m a self-entitled teenager with no respect for authority … I have 3 Ds because I don’t care,’ and the image quickly went viral.

As frustrated parents see public shaming used as a disciplinary example on places like Facebook and YouTube, news outlets have reported an increasing number of public shaming tactics outside the Internet, as well. In Utah, a mother forced her daughter to wear thrift-store clothes to school after learning that she’d been bullying other students. In Colorado, another parent made her child wear a T-shirt that said ‘THIEF’ after her kid was caught stealing.

Some parents applaud their efforts, and most of them defend their actions, saying that their wayward kid eventually learned their lesson, so obviously the punishment worked. But what lesson are they really learning? According to Vicki Hoefle, author of Duct Tape Parenting: A Less is More Approach to Raising Respectful, Responsible and Resilient Adults, the lessons being learned aren’t good ones.

Hoefle joins the numbered ranks of parenting experts who deride the use of humiliation as a valid form of punishment. She provides these reasons why:

· Children should trust their parents and feel safe with them.

· Public humiliation creates a long-standing memory that isn’t easily erased. The highlight of your son or daughter’s childhood—the thing that people (including your child) remember most—won’t be the winning goal or the academic trophy. It’ll be the time you made her wear a sign on the corner or post an embarrassing photo on the Internet.

· Public humiliation is, in itself, a form of bullying. Ask yourself: What would I do if someone forced this on me? What if the teacher at school made my child do this? What if my boss forced me to wear this sign? Double standards should not be considered wise punishment.

· Parents should be mature role models for their children, which means showing empathy, respect, tact and integrity.

· It teaches your child to be submissive and accepting of humiliation. Would you want your child to submit to humiliation from anyone else, including their future spouse or boss?

· Respect never comes from disrespect. You have to give respect to gain it. Otherwise what you’re actually getting is fear, submission, avoidance and compliance, which aren’t the same thing.

· It jeopardizes the future of your relationship and your child’s confidence to navigate the world. Shame isn’t easily erased.

Rather than exposing your child to public humiliation, use the opportunity to teach valuable life lessons in a real way—through dialogue.

What do you think? Tweet your thoughts to @ThriveMagSWLA.

Posted by: Erin Kelly | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Parenting  |  Relationships

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