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Saturday, May 25, 2013



A Cranky Saturday opinion post


Opposing opinions are welcome, (wrong, but welcome), however, please…no name calling…that means you, you big stupid head!


There have been several stories in the news lately of parents who chose to teach their children a lesson by forcing them into embarrassing situations. 

Several weeks ago, a girl who was caught stealing was forced by her parents to wear a sign saying “I am a thief.”

The latest story is of a mother who made her daughter wear thrift store clothes because she was teasing another student about the tacky clothes she wore. that's why my daughter got mad at me.  Who knew they were heinous clothes?
I guess this is punishment for a 10 yo girl.

These make interesting stories.  There is some kind of satisfaction in hearing of these brats getting a taste of old fashion medicine, kind of an eye for an eye thing, but is shaming your children an appropriate punishment?

The experts say no:

Shaming can damage the parent-child relationship. Children quickly learn they cannot trust their parents. Children need to feel safe and secure and to be able to trust their parents. Without such safety and trust, children’s brains do not grow and organize optimally. That means children are at risk for thinking, acting and behaving in detrimental ways."

I’ve read this piece of wisdom several times and it seems to me you could just as well substitute spanking, grounding, taking away allowance, lecturing, time-out or withholding dinner for “Shaming.” The expert's opinion sounds like gobbledy-gook to me.


I don’t think the sign holding thing would serve to adjust a child’s behavior.  The shame of holding a sign and admitting to theft would only work if the child was in fact ashamed of stealing.  If he was ashamed of stealing then any less conspicuous punishment would probably be a preferred method to adjust the behavior.
(If I could throw "optimally" and "detrimental" in there I could be an expert.)


The case of having the young daughter wear cheap tacky clothes as punishment for the bullying behavior of making fun of another girl’s wardrobe might just be very productive.  Letting a bully get a taste of their own medicine, which she surely did get, strikes me as an effective way to make a point.

Experts of course disagree

“The National Association of School Psychologists says parents who discover their child has been bullying should take active steps to curb the behavior. NASP suggests explaining to the child why bullying is wrong, discussing alternatives to aggressive behavior by role playing, establishing rules regarding such behavior and reporting incidents to school officials.”

This sounds very professional and authoritative.  If the parents were trained psychologists perhaps they could give role playing a shot.  Certainly explaining why bullying is wrong and establishing rules regarding such behavior would solve the problem.

I believe the above advice should be the last resort. 

I think the way to stop bullying behavior is to hug the aggressor.  Love the mean right out of them. 

When that doesn’t work, make them wear funny clothes to school and embarrass the hell out of them. 

If that doesn’t work, try the expert's advise. 

Try role playing.  Take the role of the bully and beat the crap out of the child.  Then explain why that was wrong.  “Friggin hurts don’t it!” Establish rules regarding behavior, “Do it again and I’ll beat the crap out of you again.”

The preceding opinion was that of a cranky old man, and not necessarily that of management…Mrs. Cranky.


  1. Excellent rule of behavior!!

  2. I'm not above making my grandchildren explain why then have no cell phones and no social media access. They can make any excuse they wish, from my grandma is mean to I lost my privileges. One even got a handwritten birthday party invitation because she can't access facebook.

  3. Oh, Gawd,. I love that last paragraph!

    The idea (and the non-act) of not punishing children for wrongdoing should be punishable by flogging the parent or the effing idiot psychologist.....preferably both.

  4. "Lo" is right on the money! This crap all started with the notorious Dr. Spock and has produced what we now have: spoiled brats!

  5. I'm with Joanne. Take away their most prized possessions, and they start to see the light. With my youngest, it was his GameBoy. Took a year and a half of constant enforcement, but he came around. Losing it for a weekend was like the end of the world for a 1st grader.

  6. A very thought-provoking post. Shame was once an integral part of our penal system; remember those stocks the Puritans put offenders in, the dunking pond while your neighbors watched. I imagine many people toed the line to avoid public shaming. Today we fine people and they pay and go on to commit the same offense. I'm not so sure shame is a bad thing, but with children it needs to be used sparingly because the lesson needs to be understood more than the punishment.

  7. Interesting post. Seems to me shame can only work as a detriment if the person one is trying to shame gives a good diddle what other people think. The hardcore "thief" wouldn't care, so trying to shame him would be unlikely to make much of a difference. The kid who made a stupid mistake, on the other hand, would be humiliated, but would that equate to a change in behavior? Perhaps, but I think there are better ways to do it. Especially if the child is young and impressionable. Could "branding" a kid with a bad label end up nudging him in that direction? (Hey, if my parents think I'm a loser, I might as well be one...)

    Role playing? We did that with our kids all the time. (We played the role of parents.)

  8. This is a tough subject, I'm not a big fan of shaming anyone, but it is also essential that children learn that choices and actions have consequences, and that mean tthings we say and do to other hurt. If a child is taught right from wrong very young, and parents explain along with discipline, they have a better chance of being able to reason with them as they grow older. The point isn't to destroy a child's self esteem or basic trust in their parents, but to make them feel compassion and respect for others. If they don't get the message, start taking away all the electronic toys and freedoms until you get their attention, and don't back down!!

  9. Well, I actually agree with the "experts" here...mostly. You want your kids to trust you and talk to you, and by shaming them you risk losing their trust.
    On the other hand you have to do stop them if they're bullying or stealing or whatever.
    I thought making the girl wear the "I am a thief" sign was horrendous, but I thought making the girl wear daggy clothes was fair enough.
    Can't quite put my finger on the reason I see these two differently, but I do.

  10. Oh, actually I know why they are different. You can shame and punish a child for stealing and scare the crap out of them about it without public shaming with the sign, which is humiliating and needlessly public.
    With the clothes you are not shaming beyond the kid's immediate friends and they get a taste of how it feels to be teased for wearing daggy clothes.

  11. This is a touchy one that needs case-by-case consideration. I like the idea of the thrift store wardrobe, but parents should stop short of out-right humiliation. I'm one of the old fogeys who still believes spanking has a place, too. And tell me again in plain English what all that crap was the school shrinks were saying?