In November, I wrote a post about a father who punished his 10-year-old daughter for going behind his back to see a boy. To punish her, he posted a picture on Facebook of her wearing bows in her hair, a Disney backpack, pink sneakers and a shirt that boldly writes, “I am 10 years old” and “5th grader.”
He used social media as a source of punishment, because the idea of embarrassment for the whole world to see is punishment within itself. But how far is too far?
Another example of punishment through embarrassment occurred last week when a barbershop in my hometown of Atlanta introduced a haircut style for kids called the “Benjamin Button Special.” And what is that exactly? It’s pretty much cutting kids’ hair to look like 65-year-old men, thus looking like Benjamin Button from the hit movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” starring Brad Pitt. The owner of the shop punished his kid with this haircut, and soon parents from all over the area started requesting this haircut as punishment for bad grades, bad behavior and so on.
But is this good? Is this the right way to punish your kids? Is public embarrassment the way to go?
Honestly, I think not. It’s wrong and totally selfish. You’re trying to make a joke out of your child by publicly embarrassing them. This type of punishment is only making a child feel worse about themselves and lowering their self-esteem. That’s totally not okay.
Don’t get me wrong — I condemn the fact that these parents want their children to learn the right thing to do, and I support the fact that they are teaching their kids to take responsibility for their actions. But this is the absolutely wrong way to do it.
An even worse example of embarrassing punishment gone wrong involves a family in Missouri who purposefully had their 6-year-old child kidnapped, showed him a gun and made believe that he was being sold into slavery. I’m sorry, but how is that remotely okay? The family wanted to teach their child to be cautious because he was apparently, “too nice to strangers.” But he’s 6 YEARS OLD. Once again, I support the fact that they wanted their child to understand the dangers of talking to strangers, but this is totally wrong.
Parents need to come up with better options for punishment, like taking away TV for a week, or making your kids take out the trash everyday. There are better and more conventional ways then public embarrassment, shame and planned pretend situations.
While these kids’ punishments will be documented for years to come, at least they’ll learn the lesson their parents wanted them to learn in the first place. But please, parents. Keep these punishments sane. There’s no need for extreme measures.