I try to give my kids everything I can. When they’re not in school we go all kinds of places, and on the weekends our schedules are usually jam-packed with awesomesauce. They absolutely love it, and I love seeing them enjoy life.

Though sometimes I feel like it’s all in vain. We spent a fun Autumn day going to the Farmers Market, a huge pumpkin patch, lunch out and more. They repaid us by being completely rotten. We teach them to be respectful, to say please and thank you, but they seem to forget to be thankful for the things that are a regular occurrence.

There are days when their behavior is just too much for me. I try time outs, taking away privileges, even taking away toys, to no avail. My husband and I are mostly on the same page, though I do handle situations a little more calmly. This past week when the two older ones had nearly simultaneous melt downs just as we were about to head to the local pumpkin patch to use up the remainder of our ride tickets, I called my husband for some help. I explained the situtation and that I had made them get back in the car and was revoking their pumpkin patch privelige. Then he made a suggestion.

“Why don’t we still take them to the pumpkin patch and make them give their tickets away to kids who are behaving?”

Genius!

So that’s what we did. We walked through the pumpkin patch and had the boys observe other children. They each picked out a little girl who was behaving well and handed over their tickets. We explained to the other people why, because we wanted to make sure the lesson stuck with our children. Surprisingly, they didn’t whine or cry or anything. And they seemed almost pleased to give away their tickets and make another child happy. But despite everything, it seemed to have worked, and their demeanor changed in a good way.

Later I wondered if what we did was akin to public humiliation, which seems to be big in the news lately. Was it embarrassing to make them tell another that they were in trouble for misbehaving? They embarrass me in public with their behavior all of the time. Is that the same thing? Despite my later insecurities on the situation I think it worked out well, and I am definitely seeing an improvement in attitude. Especially when we drive past that pumpkin patch. I don’t think it will haunt them for the rest of their life, but I do think they’ll think twice before they act.

Have you ever embarrassed your child to make a point? What are your thoughts on punishing your child in public? 

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When I'm not writing, I'm cleaning up after my three very messy boys, ages 7, 4, and 1. If I had to describe myself in just one sentence: Slightly crunchy, a little crazy and always exhausted.

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6 Responses to Should parents embarrass their kids as punishment?

  1. jillsimonian says:

    You clever mama you! Have to say I LOVE this concept (in moderation, of course). When a point must me made, a point must be made. I’m finding in my limited experience that sometimes you just have to do certain things for the greater good and longer haul. And each family/kid is different… trial and error. Good for you for figuring out what worked this time for your family. My only question is: How did you not laugh at the scenario (of giving the tickets to the other kids) while you were doing it… I would’ve started giggling… :)

  2. jennydecki says:

    I live to embarrass my kids. Not just for punishment, either, but I’ve been known to ask a mother in front of my kid if what she did seems like it was out of line because I’m pretty sure in many cases my child thinks I’m just not able to “understand her thought process” or WHY she did what she did. (She’s 7. Seriously. *Sigh*) So i bring in third party opinions and it damn near kills her with shame but I tell her there’s nothing to be ashamed of because other people are on this earth to talk to and hey, if she just trusted me I wouldn’t have to ask strangers now, would I? It always works. But I also dance in public to embarrass her as well. I want her to move out before she’s 45, so I can only be safe against danger and threats, I can’t be all-safe all-the-time or she’ll never want to leave. (That’s my theory, and a random woman at Target totally agreed with me.)

  3. Lydia says:

    There’s “embarrassing” your kid with malice, and there’s using appropriate punishment to teach a good lesson. At least your kids found that this was fun AND learned their lesson all at the same time! :) Smart smart!

  4. There is value in giving back and as a way to teach kids it is for the better and greater good. They may have given a ticket to a parent who could have not afforded any more, they made someone else’s day. Time outs sometimes just doesn’t work. that was a great idea!

  5. Lena says:

    That is so awesome and I am glad it worked out. It would be terrified of screaming and kicking though

  6. I don’t think what you did was humiliating! I think they actually learned a good lesson by observing others who were exhibiting good behavior. I think the other forms of public humiliation for punishment that have been in the news recently do not teach a lesson. They embarrass and most likely scare the child.

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