Nearly every day, someone posts a viral, shame-based punishment clip or photo online. But how effective are they? Is it really smart to publicly humiliate your kids? Not in my book. It's cruel, insensitive and self serving. It's more revealing of the parent's psychological make-up than the child's. These are parents who never quite grew up. In fact, I can see them clearly, running around shouting, "I told you so," and declaring themselves "number one". It's sickening, really. Shame-based punishments may work in the short term. In the long term, they're a vicious cycle.
1. Shame-based punishments teach kids not to trust their parents.
Kids should be able to trust their parents with their biggest mistakes and pitfalls. A parent's job is to provide loving guidance, not humiliation. When parents publicly humiliate their children, they risk losing trust. When kids don't trust their parents, they stop sharing things with them. They stop confiding in them. What comes next? Parents lose touch with their children. So, when important issues arise, they render themselves powerless to help.
2. Shame-based punishments teach kids to devalue themselves.
You may be tired of hearing about self esteem. That doesn't make it any less important. Kids with high self esteem simply have things easier in life. They have self confidence. They have a larger network of friends. They have courage and fortitude. Not so with kids whose parents insist on shame based punishment. Lowering kids' self esteem shows parents have control issues. Problem? Parents won't always be there. Kids with low self esteem grow up to be adults with low self esteem. Push a child down too often and they remain down for life.
3. Shame-based punishments cut deeply and bleed forever.
What kind of parent takes pleasure in hurting their child, emotionally or physically? A parent who received the same treatment as a child and has never gotten over it. The job of a parent is to build their child up. Parents are there to prepare their kids for life as an adult. By using humiliation as punishment, parents repeat a cycle of abuse and self loathing. Don't believe me? Just ask one of these public humiliation proponents if their parents would have done the same to them.
4. Shame-based punishments exemplify bullying.
It's pretty awful being a victim of bullying. What's worse? When your own parents are the bullies. It's not funny, cute or clever to pick on your child. Life is not a Facebook post. Kids experience the very real feelings of sadness, anxiety and humiliation when parents use shame based punishments. Why would any parent choose to hurt their child that way? Have we become that desensitized to our own kids?
5. Shame-based punishments are about the parents, not the child.
Parents with low self esteem often brag about humiliating their kids or keeping them in line. Why? Because they're trying to boost their own deflated egos. It's easy to spot a person with low self esteem. They're the biggest braggart in the crowd. In fact, they're so determined to get on that soapbox, they completely disregard the feelings of their children. Are shame based punishments effective? Not all all. In fact, they do more harm than good.
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