Would You Publicly Humiliate Your Child As A Punishment?

No. I wouldn’t. But other parents are doing this with increasing frequency, as described in Lisa Belkin’s recent column in the Huffington Post. I urge you to read her column for the details – but the bottom line is that it’s becoming chic for parents to punish their kids by having them stand in a prominent public space wearing signs such as:

  • “I like to steal from others and lie about it!”
  • “I am a thief. I took money from a family member.”
  • “I was sent to school to get an education. Not to be a bully … I was not raised this way!”

Look, I get that out there in the world, you can find parents who do all kinds of things. What got my attention was her assertion (which I agree with) that this is becoming a trend – another form of extreme parenting that goes hand in hand with the tendency for promoting what I’ve described as Shock Parenting in books and articles. And this troubles me. Why? Because I’m seeing behavior that makes me feel that parents don’t really treat kids like they are dependents. Yes, dependents. They depend on us to treat them fairly, to respect them, and to shape their behavior in appropriate ways. Sure, this includes providing consequences to inappropriate behavior. But – and this is just my opinion – I doubt that having a kid wear a sign in public is any more effective than rubbing a dog’s nose in their poop to teach them to not mess in the house. Any reputable dog trainer will tell you that the dog only learns to fear you when they poop in the house – it teaches the dog nothing about going to the door as a signal that they have to go outside. And that’s because there is no training involved. Punishment only tells you what not to do – kids need to learn about the consequences of their behavior in a way that they learn what they should be doing, and why they should be doing it, so that they not only stop doing what’s wrong, but start doing what’s right.

I could go on and on about this, but I’d rather hear from you all. Would you use this form of punishment with your kids? Do you feel okay knowing other parents are doing this? Oh, and one other question. If you think it’s okay to do this … do kids get the option to ask parents to wear a sign in public when they mess up??

Image of question mark via Shutterstock.com

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  1. by Jo

    On April 20, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    That is horrible! That just leads to resentment of the parents, opens the child to ridicule from peers that see them and teaches then un loing ways to treat their own children

  2. by amira

    On April 20, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    yes I would especially in the bullying situation! All the kids committing suicide cause people want to be cruel in order to build an imaginary peadastool. I was a victim if bullying, for my eclectic style, unwillingness to be an airhead&ability to mesh w/guys.My grandparents even bullied me in some ways&I’m in my 20′s still getting over it! If we are aware of the pain of ridicule perhaps we’ll be more compassionate.

  3. by Helene

    On April 20, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    I agree with you. The only thing a child could possibly learn from this is to fear the parent who enforced the punishment. I think it’s toatlly awful!
    Amira, I can understand why you would feel that the people who did that to you would deserve such a punishment, but wouldn’t it be better to try to come up with something that could teach them not to bully? I strongly doubt that this would make a difference…In fact I’m quite cirtain that it would only make things worse.

  4. by Carma

    On April 20, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Have you ever heard the phrase if you don’t respect me then you better fear me. It is not your job as a parent to be your childs friend it is your job to teach them respect, responsibilty, and right from wrong. While I don’t nessecarily agree with thier methods you don’t know the entire situation maybe this was a last resort. You can’t judge unless you walk a mile in their shoes. When it comes to raising kids each one is different so never say never.

  5. by Lynn H

    On April 22, 2012 at 7:51 am

    I would and I have many many years before it was “The In Thing” to do. Although in my defense, my humiliation was a threat of it, not the actual humiliation. My boys were teens (I have 2) and they refused to stop certain behaviors or I would do something horrendous that would embarrass them to DEATH.
    IE) You will go to class, each and every class or I, your mother will….dress in her old ratty fuzzy blue bathrobe, put lots of pink rollers in her naturally curly hair, draw new larger lips on her face, drive you to school and walk you to each and EVERY class and Kiss you goodbye at the door.
    Thankfully the threat was all that was needed…since they both knew that I was crazy enough to actually do it. The one that skipped a class, never skipped again and his brother was so horrified he toed the line for his entire school life.

  6. by Cathy

    On August 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Of course this is not okay! It just shows ignorance. What most shocks me is how many people do agree with this and think it’s good parenting. The ignorant bit is that they do it because the child has humiliating them as parents, which is not a good thing, but humiliating their child is a good thing. I honestly wish there would be a law against this!