Is Shame Based Punishment Effective?

Taken from my segment on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook

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Is publicly shaming our children an effective way to bring a positive change when they’ve made serious mistakes?

Experts and this real mom say no.

Kids need to be able to trust that their parents will watch out not only for their physical well- being but also care for their emotional health. Our job is to provide loving guidance not humiliation that demeans our children.

It’s ok that our kids feel guilt over their bad decisions, guilt drives us to change. Guilt says: you did something wrong, but shame says: you ARE something wrong.

Shame based punishment teaches kids to devalue themselves and their worth.

Publicly humiliating a child is so destructive because most of the time, the world doesn’t let us have the mercy and grace we need to move on from our mistakes.

Shaming our kids destroys their self-esteem and studies have proven that children with a healthy self-esteem will:

  • Have a larger network of friends
  • Have courage to face difficult situations and
  • Have the self-confidence needed to step up to the challenges of stepping out as a leader.

Shame-based punishments may work in the short term, but in the long term, it can be a vicious cycle.

My heart goes out to the parent whose child is constantly making really bad decisions, it can feel quite helpless and I’m sure the signs only come out after buckets of tears and helpless feelings.

But I still believe that there is a better way than public humiliation.

How often has humiliation provoked you to positive change?
Does throwing your dirty laundry in the face of all your friends at work or church compel you to want to do better or make you feel like shrinking back and isolating yourself?

What does a bully do? He/she humiliates. By using humiliation as punishment, parents resemble a school yard bully. Though I know this would never be their intention.

Sometimes I think that publicly shaming our child is less about them and more about us. It could be that a parent wants to deal with their own embarrassment of their child’s behavior and they think that this kind of public display will show the world that they are a good parent.

Street corners are not the only place for this kind of shame, Facebook is the new street corner so we also need to be careful that our Facebook posts are not embarrassing our kids.

But what does a parent do when faced with a child that refuses to listen?
Each situation is different but I encourage you to get to the root of the WHY they are doing it. See if you can find a way to address the heart of the issue.

And consider how you can discipline instead of punish them. Discipline comes from the word disciple and is done with the intent of moving forward in a positive way it encourages growth in someone. Punishment is always based on the past and not on a positive future.

As a Christian I look to Christ, He never humiliates or shames us, in fact He took our shame and punishment. However, He does discipline us.
Jesus showed us over and over that grace was more effective than scorn and punishment.

And in the Old Testament:

For further information on the dangers of shame I encourage you to check out Brene’ Brown’s website, videos and books.

If you missed this segment, listen here: Real Moms: Shame based punishment

You can listen to my ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

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