There is a trend circulating through Facebook which is troubling me…parents using social media to publicly shame/humiliate their children when they do something wrong. It’s not a novel idea, we’ve all seen instances over the past few years where a mom or dad has taken their offspring to task by outing them on Facebook.
While I know we can agree there are definitely times when kids need to understand the error of their ways and be held accountable for their actions, I don’t think adults should be trying to prove a point by sharing the error with the online world. Subscribing to this practice may fix the problem short-term (by causing a child to feel bad enough about their actions to apologize, or to pat yourself on the back for being the kind of parent who makes their child accountable for their behavior) the long-term casualty is the relationship between the parent and the child.
Here is a specific example of what I am referring to:
Shaming other people (whether it’s two teenage girls who behave disrespectfully at a movie theater, or their mother who used a community Facebook page to humiliate them) doesn’t change behavior. If anything, shaming causes the person on the receiving end to feel attacked, vulnerable, and as a result, defensive and resentful. This also creates a disconnect within oneself and between two people.
Maybe these kids will think twice about the way they act the next time they go to a movie without parental supervision, but my guess is they’ll remember much longer the emotional pain of their mom’s actions.
We constantly talk about how we want our kids to use social media responsibly, right? If that is true then we (adults) have to set the tone and model the behavior ourselves. Yes, when kids misbehave they should be accountable (and hopefully genuinely remorseful) but, think before you share.
So what could have been done differently in this situation?
If I found out two of my children continuously kicked the chair of someone in front of them at a theater and were generally disruptive during a movie, I would take away the privilege of going for a while. And, then I would ask myself why my kids were behaving this way. My guess is they are trying to attract attention for some reason…could it be I need to be paying more attention?
What would you do in this situation?