Discipline and Social Media: Have We Gone Too Far?

We have all seen images of parents humiliating their child posted on social media and while they may be creative ways to punish, have we gone too far?

From shaving a child’s head to forcing them to stand on a busy street corner with a sign stating their crime, parents are turning to eccentric ways to penalize.  What is sparking this trend?  Is social media to blame?  Are parents really focusing on their children or are they looking for their 15 minutes seconds of social media fame?

While parents may be turning to this new trend out of frustration and as a way to reach and rehabilitate their children, is it doing more harm than good?

  • By sharing this practice on social media, a parent is not only humiliating their child in front of their peers, but the whole world.
  • A parent is branding their child as a bad person for the rest of their lives.
  • The image of this humiliation will be forever stored on the internet and follow these children for a lifetime.
  • This behavior can affect a child’s future employment and success.
  • A parent should be an ally and someone for a child to look up to and turn to, even in the worst of times.
  • A parent who does not have the tools to understand their consequences will raise a child who does not understand consequences.
  • No parent should gain enjoyment from seeing their child embarrassed and mortified, no matter what they have done.
  • The time it took to create these elaborate signs and schemes could have been utilized talking and teaching instead.
  • A parent would be better off appealing to the emotions of the child who committed the wrongful act.
  • The focus should not just be on the consequences that the offender will face but the consequences the victim will have to face.
  • A parent should help the child understand how they have affected another person in a negative way and stress the importance of apologizing.
  • It is better to gain your child’s respect than have your child fear you.
  • Humiliating your child will only push them further away.

Most people do not want to be labeled a bad parent.  I know I certainly don’t but it’s easy to judge and we are all guilty of that.  We see a mother in the supermarket scolding her child who we feel bad for and wonder why she didn’t handle it another way.  What we didn’t see is behind the scenes.  Was her frustration level already high because her child had misbehaved prior to the market visit?  Perhaps if we saw her on a different day, her reaction to her son’s bad behavior would be different.

In the same token, it is important to not be too lenient and too forgiving when we see a child being mistreated.  There is a big difference between a parent grabbing their child’s elbow and disciplining in an acceptable way versus a parent who is mentally and physically abusing a child.  As decent human beings, we need to watch out for children who are being mistreated and hold the parents accountable.  That said, similar to the idea that good kids can make bad choices, good parents can also make bad choices in a moment of frustration and anger.  With the world now watching, one bad decision can lead to a nightmare situation where child services is soon knocking at your door.

It is hard to know when to leave well enough alone and when to step in.  We have all judged and I imagine have all been judged.  Here are some tips to decrease the chances you may be faced with having to discipline your child in public.

  • Before you bring your children on an errand, make sure they (and you) are in the right state of mind.
  • Decide if these errands can wait until you are by yourself to avoid any public meltdowns.
  • Make sure to bring snacks since a hungry toddler is a cranky toddler.
  • Stay patient when your child acts out in public and do not worry about what anyone else is thinking.
  • If you are having a bad day and have little patience, acknowledge that and don’t take it out on your child.
  • Be creative and come up with activities and games your children can do while in the supermarket.  (Click here for ideas)
  • Remember people are watching so instead of causing a bigger scene, be a role model to other parents.

These parents who are posting images and videos of crazy and bizarre acts of disciplining are asking for all of our opinions and clearly don’t mind being judged.  In fact, they welcome our judgments as the more comments the better in their minds.  At times they even look like they are having fun at their child’s expense which is both disturbing and inappropriate.

They may feel they are actually parenting but to these kids, they are telling the world they are bad people.  At the end of the day, these children are left feeling ashamed in a way that will affect them for the rest of their lives.  These parents are only focusing on their child’s consequences and not realizing their actions of humiliating their child also has consequences.

There is no contest for the most original punishment created by a parent, despite what social media tells us.  The amount of comments, “likes” and followers is not a reward for shaming and mortifying your child.  The reward is knowing you have connected with your child, taught your child to be a good person and to treat others how they want to be treated.  The reward is knowing you have helped your child become a decent person who is able to contribute to society in a positive way.

The way to win the ultimate parenting prize is to become a good role model for your child and to lead by example.


Watch Ellie, The Mommy Master® share her perspective with 10newstampa

[xyz-ihs snippet=”10-news-cbs”]