UNITED STATES—Last week we had a conversation that centered on the notion of the difficulty of parenting. This week I want to turn the conversation to the notion of public shaming. This shouldn’t be something that is foreign to most Americans, but for some living under a rock it may be. Public shaming is where the entire world knows precisely what one has done, and as a result the opinions explode at full speed.
Recently, we heard the tale about a mother who forced her son to pick out a week’s worth of school clothing from their local Goodwill store. When I heard the reason for WHY the mother did what she did I was rooting for her 100 percent. Why?
Well, the kid didn’t want to get into his father’s old vehicle, not to mention his shame of shopping at Walmart, telling his mother “they were not poor.” Yeah, it seems the kid had a taste of being better than others, so as a result the mother needed to reel him in and bring him back to reality. I’ve talked about this before and for good reason: spoiling a child is the worst thing you can do because if the behavior is not stopped at an early age it becomes nearly impossible to change it. As a result a cycle of arrogance and lack of compassion for others will take over that individual’s life and that same sentiment will be echoed to their kids.
The kid claimed that he was happy his mother did what she did because it taught him a lesson to be gracious. That is the thing about life: you can be rich one day or flat poor the next day. You have to cherish what you have while you have it, and that does not mean being overly protective of materialistic items, but to appreciate what you have because there are indeed people out there in far worse shape than you. People complain so much at times it just destroys your heart when you hear people complain about the stupidest things, when their situation and I mean the situation can be gargantuan, so much that people who have the bare minimum are more appreciative than those with loads.
A good spotlight being placed on a kid puts them in the position to perhaps see the perspective of others. We now have to transition the conversation to the kids who were forced to walk to school with large signs after their mother learned they were being bad on the school bus. Now studies have shown that public shaming is a method that can be used to shift bad behavior for several reasons 1) kids don’t like to be embarrassed 2) kids don’t want their peers to look down on them 3) kids don’t like to disappoint their parents. Those 3 things alone, could lead a child to changing their behavior.
At the same time, we have to discuss some of the drawbacks of public shaming, the biggest being it could impact a child’s self-esteem and confidence level. The fact that the parent is publicly shaming the child for something bad is like a form of bullying in itself. As a result, it doesn’t teach a great lesson to kids because it’s likely a tactic they might use on their kids as well. However, that video that has been plastered on the internet and now seen by millions of people quickly becomes the talk of the town. As a result, that kid can now find themselves being publicly shamed at school by other classmates and even teachers.
Something aimed to do well, can easily become something that does far worse than expected. I think a better approach is for the parent to NOT post what punishment they are delivering for the entire world to see. The goal might be to get other parents to see that this tactic could work to fix issues with their child, but each case is its own. No two kids are alike America, so always consider that as a drawback when deciding what best works. Public shaming was something that once worked when the entire world had no idea about it, but with social media it changes the entire scope of things.