The Short of It
An Australia mom is stirring debate on social media after admitting that she's considering going "Grinch" this Christmas to teach her daughter a lesson.
It happens all the time; our child does something wrong and we struggle to find the proper punishment. An anonymous mom, who was frustrated by her 10-year-old daughter swiping money to buy lollipops, took to the social media group School Mum on Sunday to see if her planned punishment was "too harsh" for the crime. She's considering canceling Christmas—only for her daughter.
"She has been caught stealing money from us to buy lollies for the second time in a month," she wrote. "She doesn't have any devices, play computer games or watch much TV so we can't use this as a punishment. We can't stop her from going to her sports lessons (which she loves) as it will be letting the teams down. My husband feels we should give her no presents at all at Christmas."
She has received more than 500 replies. While a few parents seemed to think the punishment fits the crime—"I don't think it's harsh at all," one said—most readers were appalled by the idea: "I can't believe a parent would even consider letting their child wake up on Xmas morning with no presents. That is beyond cruel." And another commented: "Never ever take away Xmas or birthdays...She will hate you for it!"
Child psychologist Dr. Laura Markham agrees. "I guarantee that the damage you do taking away the holiday will only make things worse," she told Yahoo Parenting, "because instead of helping her with whatever problem she is having, she hears the parents telling her, 'I'm going to punish you with the worst thing I can think of.'"
And Markham warns the parent-child relationship could be damaged: "It becomes public shaming because everyone will know about it, since kids will ask her about Christmas and she will either have to lie to avoid embarrassment or admit, 'I didn't get to have Christmas,' and explain what happened."
Instead of putting a child on the Naughty List and risking the demise of the already-precarious parent-child relationship, Markham advises talking to the child to figure out why she felt like she had to steal money in the first place.
"If the issue is that the girl really just wanted candy, the parents need to look at what their home life is doing in terms of deprivation," she says. "It could be that the child really just needs some more sweetness in her life. Taking away Christmas is too extreme." The better option, she says, is figuring out how she can earn back her parents' trust.