Is Shame and Humiliation an Effective Discipline Strategy?

Saturday November 24, 2012

By Amy Morin

Lately, the news has been flooded with stories where both adults and children are punished by being forced to wear a sign that proclaims their crime. Trying to shame or humiliate people to change their behavior is certainly not a new tactic. However, it sure seems to be stealing a lot of press time lately.

A father's parenting skills recently came into question when he forced his preschooler to wear a sign that proclaimed she had an accident in the bathtub. He then posted the picture on social media sites and caused a lot of of outrage.

A Cleveland judge recently punished a woman by making her wear a sign that said she was an idiot. The woman was caught driving on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus. Obviously not a bright move, but is wearing a sign going to change that?

The problem with using shame and humiliation is that it tends to make people feel bad about themselves and isn't necessarily a healthy motivator. Instead of thinking, "Wow I messed up and I should do better next time," people end up thinking more along the lines of "Wow, I'm a screw up who always messes everything up."

When parents discipline kids, they should think about what they want their child to learn. Do you want your kid focusing his anger and energy on his dislike for you or do you want to give him a consequence that will make him think about his own behavior so he can change it?

Spanking is another one of those punishments that often uses shame and humiliation. It sometimes works in the short-term because kids don't want to get spanked again. However, they sometimes focus more on "My parents are mean," rather than, "I should make better choices."

Learn about spanking alternatives and consequences that don't punish kids. Instead, they use discipline that teaches and guides kids in making healthier choices for themselves.

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