(ANTIMEDIA) ‘Being a parent is probably the hardest thing a person could do, and kids don’t come with instruction manuals.’
We’ve spoken this mantra countless times, but have we ever really taken a critical look at how we parent our children?
We get university degrees to qualify for jobs, and we have to pass a test to be allowed to drive a car. How many parents have read a book on parenting, taken a class on it, or joined a parents’ support group? We love our parents and usually believe they did their best to raise us the best way they could. That may have included physical punishment, and more recently, public humiliation. Yet countless studies have shown spanking children not only has negative long-term consequences but also increases unwanted behaviors. Spanking is counterproductive and simply does not work. Now we know better, and now we can do better.
Another video of a parent publicly shaming their child has gone viral. This time, it was the mother of Nia Green, who, frustrated with her daughter’s inappropriate social media posts and sexual activity, had someone broadcast live on her daughter’s Facebook account while she violently beat her with a piece of wood. She then hit her with her hands. She posted the following on Facebook:
Nia Green made a post on her Facebook page the next day apologizing for her behavior, saying she had learned her lesson. It’s unclear whether or not this post was part of her punishment. We also don’t know what long-term effects the public humiliation could have.
Parenting experts agree that public humiliation and corporal punishment may achieve short-term results, but that they are not effective long-term solutions. Alfie Kohn, author of Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason, told the Huffington Post:
“It’s not just that humiliating people, of any age, is a nasty and disrespectful way of treating them. It’s that humiliation, like other forms of punishment, is counterproductive. ‘Doing to’ strategies — as opposed to those that might be described as ‘working with’ — can never achieve any result beyond temporary compliance, and it does so at a disturbing cost.”
He went on to explain the lessons children learn from harsh punishments:
“(1) my parent isn’t a caring ally whom I can trust but an enforcer I should try to avoid, (2) when you have a problem with what someone else has done, you should just use power to make the other person do what you want, and (3) the reason not to steal (or lie or hurt people) isn’t because of how it affects others but because of the consequence you, yourself, will face if you’re caught. No wonder so many adults who do terrible things were humiliated, or spanked, or otherwise punished — often harshly — when they were young.”
“No doubt what most parents who inflict shame on their child are trying to do is raise their child’s consciousness of the potential consequences of their actions. In behavioral terms, shaming would be considered an aversive technique. Basically, the principle is that the shame is a negative consequence of an unwanted behavior, so then the person avoids doing that behavior in the future because of the aversive outcome. But the painful feelings that shame unleashes in a young person’s mind are the real problem.
“In many children, their feelings are magnified well beyond the proportions of us adults, who have [the] perspective of more years. Shame, in particular, is felt keenly by any human, and so its magnification can be exponential in children and teens. The sheer weight of these feelings can be too heavy, too unrelenting. A child or a teen doesn’t understand that these feelings will get easier and even end at some point.”
Nia Green may already be facing severe negative consequences from her mother’s actions. In a recent post on Facebook, she mentioned she has been experiencing cyberbullying.
Parenting isn’t easy, but there are countless online and community resources and support systems available to people who reach out for help.
Resources for parents:
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