Monday, November 25, 2013

Stop Publicly Shaming Your Kids For Attention

Stop publicly shaming your kids for screwing up. Just stop it. Stop making them wear shirts and carry signs detailing their crimes, stop making them hold up signs saying they were kids, and moreover, HUMAN, and made a mistake! Stop taking pictures of it and posting it all over the interwebs hoping someone will take notice and you'll get your fleeting, fifteen minute "awesome parent award". Stop making Youtube videos yelling at your kids for their screw ups, and hoping they'll go viral.

Knock it the heck off, and go parent your children, PRIVATELY! *gasp* WHAT?!?! I think you should mind your own business in parenting and stop seeking the world's approval and attention for bringing up your children.  I do.

Everytime I turn around these days I see headlines that read; "Mom makes daughter wear t-shirt saying..."  "Parents make son hold sign saying...." "Check out how this dad punished his daughter..." or a photo of a kid holding up a sign saying; "I had to take back all of my toys, because I'm ungrateful."

No offense, parents, but all I see when I read those is; "Parents seek attention, validation in their parenting, and notoriety by publicly shaming their child." I am so sick of it. It's constant. I am not linking to any of these articles, because I'm not giving these parents any more fame or link hits. Sorry, if you don't know what I'm talking about, you'll need to consult Google.

How do you think your kid is going to feel in ten years when they start dating someone and a quick Google search reveals that at the age of ten they were a much talked about internet sensation because they shoplifted, didn't say thank you, pushed a kid on the playground, fought with their siblings, back talked, were disrespectful, or one of 1900 million other things that are NORMAL for kids to do? I would be ticked if my mom had done that to me.

I wouldn't be able to trust her, I wouldn't want to come to her when I screwed up again for fear of public shaming and humiliation. I would seperate myself emotionally from her, and I would watch everything I said or did in her presence from that day forward. Our relationship would be severed.

This sort of public shaming, made so easy with the internet and social media, is very selfish. What good is it actually doing the child to have their face and their "crime" plastered all over the web? Maybe they'll "learn their lesson" and not do it again. But, maybe they'll get depressed and feel like crap, maybe they'll withdraw from you, maybe they'll start constantly seeking attention for other things, maybe they'll never talk to you again. Maybe you'll do more damage than good.

Let's face it, these punishments aren't for your kids, they're for you. They make you feel good and important, and popular, even if people are picking you apart, at least they're talking about you. Whether you realize it or not, when you do stuff like this you're only doing it for a reaction, and for attention for YOU. Is that the type of example you want to set for your kids? Do you want them to seek attention in outlandish, over the top ways? Do you want them do the right thing for fear of humiliation, or because you've led them by example to know right from wrong?

Oh, don't get me wrong, a little bit of shame now and again never hurt anybody. But, when you do this type of shaming you are essentially leading your child up on to the world's largest stage, where everybody has front row seats and stripping your kids down to nothing and baring all of their wrong doings for everyone to see, to criticize, and to judge. That's a far greater shame than the shame they feel when returning what they stole to the store and personally apologizing to the manager.

So, the next time your kid messes up, don't reach for your Sharpie and your camera, instead reach for some practical parenting.

If they....

  • Shoplift- Talk to them about the effects of stealing for them, and the people they steal from, drive them to the store to return the item, and apologize to the manager. If it was from an individual have them offer their time volunteering odd jobs for the person. Have them ask the store owner or individual what they can do to help earn their forgiveness and trust. Maybe give them some extra chores around the house. But, don't make them carry a sign or wear a shirt. Just keep it between you and the people they wronged. 

  • Don't say "Thank You" for a gift- Help them write a heartfelt thank you note. If they didn't say thank you because they didn't like the gift, help them to understand the meaning of the gift, and write a thank you for the thought and the gift. Don't take away their Christmas presents and make them hold up a sign. Just teach your kids how to be polite and respectful, teach them dying art form of thank you notes.

  •  Pushed a kid on the playground- Teach them the art of apology letter writing. Talk to them about why we should never inflict pain on another human being. Drive them to the child's house to hand deliver the note, and have them verbally apologize, and ask the child if there is a chore that they need their help with. Don't make them stand on a street corner holding a sign. Just teach them how to be kind, and how to forgive, and how to ask forgiveness. 

Please, for the love of your children, stop publicly shaming them for attention. Start parenting them, for our future and theirs. 

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