The Short of It
Parents shaming their children in public is one of the latest parenting trends—and you've no doubt seen the photos and videos on the news and in your social media feeds: Kids holding signs that describe their wrongdoing (two examples include a little boy who "cussed" at his teacher and a small girl who threw up in her new car seat). Now, Dr. Shefali Tsabary, a New York based psychologist, created the hashtag #EndShame — and her YouTube video further explores why exploiting children for mistakes, bad behavior, and plain old shortcomings is wrong and ineffective. Many parents support her movement and have been using the hashtag #StopShameParenting on social media, too.
Dr. Tsabary says shame parenting suggests children aren't allowed to make mistakes, and that the practice is cruel, comparing it to cute photos of puppies online that were "naughty"—basically, treating your kiddo like an animal, not a human. She asks parents how they would feel if their parents had punished them like this when they were kids, and she cautions that these parents are hurting—not helping—their kids. In the YouTube video she says: "Wake up, grow up, be the parent you were meant to be—the usher of [their] soul." And perhaps the most important message is that of the one this YouTube video is dedicated to: 13-year-old Izabel Laxamana, who died this summer after jumping off a bridge in Tacoma, Washington. Speculation is that a 15-second video posted on YouTube that shows Izabel with her once long, black hair cut short and piled on the ground, and her father taunting her (“Man, you lost all that beautiful hair...Was it worth it?") played a role in the teen's suicide. And while it turns out that Izabel’s father didn't actually post the video online, he did send a copy to his daughter, so she could have a reminder of the consequences for misbehaving.
Enough with putting your kid on display because he swore at his teacher. Yes, of course that is wrong—but punish him in your home. Make him write an apology note. Your little boy isn't acting like an angel 24/7? Too bad. That's life! You don't get to give him an "old-man haircut" and then post it on social media drawing a viral crowd. Me? I have an 8-year-old son who has an angel and a devil on his shoulders. My sweet, empathetic kiddo, like any boy, can sometimes misbehave—duh. I don't shame him online though, or out in public. Frankly, making my kid hold a sign declaring something wrong he might have done (or did, yes) would make me look like a terrible parent. I'm supposed to guide and teach him—not berate him. If someone had me hold ALL the signs describing my mistakes—I might be standing on a street corner for the rest of my life. I stand with Dr. Shefali Tsabary: #ENDSHAME