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Is It Okay To Humiliate Your Child To Teach A Lesson?

Social media: should it be used to punish a child?

Parenting is the toughest job, no question about it, and since nobody teaches us how to be parents, it’s easy to make mistakes. Especially when disciplining them, and the more our children grow, the more they challenge us and question our decisions.

I believe in discipline, setting limits, positive reinforcement and in punishment. It’s never been easy to enforce the rules but for me it is totally necessary to give my children a sense of what’s right or wrong. I try to teach them lessons from their mistakes or from different situations we face, and when I need to follow through and enforce a punishment, I take extra care to see if it will help them understand why what they did was wrong.

I also believe in respecting other parents and their methods of enforcing discipline unless they harm their children. The issue is that it’s easy to forget the many ways you can cause harm to a child. Words are extremely powerful and certain actions can leave invisible and permanent scars. Especially to a person’s self-esteem.

That’s why I am troubled about a mom resorting to public humiliation via social media to teach her 12-year-old daughter to think twice before posting a picture on Instagram, the photo sharing site recently acquired by Facebook.


Yes, her daughter did something inappropriate and probably deserved to be punished. Each parent has the right to define the rules in their household and later decide what to do when their child disobeys. The usage of social media among children and teens is exploding and as parents, we do need to teach them that whatever is posted online will live there forever and can potentially be found by prospective college admission officers or potential employers.

However, does anybody deserve to be publicly humiliated? In my opinion, no. For me, positive discipline is not about humiliation. By making her daughter feel ashamed in front of millions, I do not think she taught her why it was wrong. She taught her that it’s okay to ridicule somebody. That it’s okay to embarrass somebody publicly when they make a mistake.

The girl even begged to be spanked rather than having to post a photo on Instagram in which she holds a sign reading, “Since I want to post photos of me holding liquor, I am obviously not ready for social media and will be taking a hiatus until I learn what I should (and) should not post. Bye-bye.” For her to prefer corporal punishment to public humiliation sends a strong message on why this way of disciplining a child is wrong. Even if it was rooted in the best of intentions.

Humiliation is destructive, not constructive. Let’s not confuse it with discipline.

Read Jeannette´s blog in Spanish and find more of her writing on Todobebé. You can also watch her on the Viva la Familia TV show Saturdays on Univision.

And reach out to her on Twitter and Facebook. She loves it!

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