Is it right to punish a teen with humiliation?
Whether you are right or wrong to do this, I guarantee you one thing: your children will NEVER forgive you.
I speak from experience.
Humiliation goes deeper than even physical punishment into one’s memory, and whereas memories of most punishments will dim with time, humiliation is re-experienced as if it is still happening each time one recalls it.
Humiliation is far more than embarrassment – if a child smarts off on front of others and you call him or her out, it is embarrassing to him or her (and maybe to you), but that feeling will recede with time in most cases.
It is a common parental reaction, when a child is found to have stolen something, to march said kid back to the owner and make the child return the item or pay for it and to apologize.
This is embarrassment and it is directly proportional to the transgression.
I think this is 100% a good and intelligent (and loving) response to misbehavior.
Humiliation is usually disproportional to the wrongdoing and takes place in front of people who were uninvolved in the misbehavior, and in the worst case, occurs in the presence of people whose good opinion the child values – people with whom the misbehavior had nothing to do.
Humiliation and embarrassment largely differ in intensity based on how the recipient feels about it.
No one who has actually felt true humiliation ever forgets the incident that caused it.
But no matter how the recipient reacts, the thought that anyone would set out to purposely humiliate someone he or she loves is beyond my understanding.
I suspect that it is a response to the child’s actions causing embarrassment or humiliation to the parent – hinting that one is a bad parent, cannot control one’s home, or has raised the child with poor manners or ethics.
I have read that people writing memoirs or autobiographies will discuss failures and embarrassments and wrong decisions – sometimes quite freely – but that virtually no one ever discusses incidents where he or she felt truly humiliated.
My father often embarrassed me by his behavior but only once did he humiliate me (probably he was unaware that I was humiliated), because I am sure he felt more like he was ‘taking me down a peg’ but he turned a good thing I did into a foolish thing in front of someone whose respect I wanted badly and even now I shake with rage when I think of it.
Not forgotten, not forgiven 60 years later.
I would suggest you design consequences for misbehavior to stay below the level of humiliation, or else know you will lose a child’s love.
Humiliation usually does not even produce the desired consequences; what it does is teach the child that the gloves are always off and there are no limits to what can be done to win a point.
I wouldn’t want to have to have a child in in my home in whom I had instilled THAT lesson.
As someone just left high school, I wouldn’t say it’s a good idea.
It’s a horrible idea, to be honest, judging from my personal experience.
Speaking from my perspective, humiliation from parents (or a parent, in my case) doesn’t usually help you achieve what you intended, and it usually tends to do the opposite.
I’m no stranger to humiliation from my father, who kinda has anger management issues.
Ever since I was little, whenever he got mad or when I did something wrong, he would scold me with humiliation (and he still does to this day).
And for your reference, the word he uses most frequently is “moron” and “retard” for when I make mistakes dealing with the situations such as not being comprehensive or thoughtful enough when handling them.
I don’t know (and I don’t care) what his intention is for doing it, whether he’s just mad or he’s trying to provoking me into improving, but believe me, it never worked on me.
I can’t say that I have a perfect self-recognition, but I think I’m self-recognitive enough to know that I’m none of those things and he’s totally overreacting.
But at least I would think about it.
When I got older, a part of me became numb, gradually.
I can feel it.
I mean, though I was well aware that maybe he meant well and that he was overreacting, I was also aware that those things were shouted out as insults, intended to hurt in whatever way he thought would “help” me.
So what would cause whatever feelings: anger, regret or fear, when I was 4, aroused nothing in me a few years later.
I stopped giving a crap.
I guess it’s kinda like some sort of coping mechanisms built in organisms, like bacteria getting resistant to a repeatedly used antibiotic, or when you tap the bottom of a petri dish containing an ameba it contracts, but when you tap it repeatedly it just stops responding bc it gets used to it.
So I guess that’s how you know that it’s not a good idea for punishing your kid.
Also, it’s possible that he would start doing the same thing when your kid has his/her own kid since the insensitive part of him is so used to humiliation.
On the other hand, let’s see what happens when your kid takes your humiliation seriously.
What’s most likely to happen is that he/she gets deeply mortified and has a hard time getting over it.
And I don’t think it’s easy to solve the problem by humiliating without causing any damage.
So that’s my very humble opinion; and for a more practical advise, try to talk peacefully with your kid.
(yeah the good old way) Hope it helps!
The punishment needs to suit the offense.
You don't say what the offense was – well, more than one apparently – and whether you went to the core of the problem.
The point here if humiliation is all that you do, then perhaps it's not working.
I can think of a couple of items which can prompt the need to humiliate someone (those are extreme examples, and would only be available to a certain kind of teen, not to all the teens), however, depending on the person you're punishing, this can either work or not work or even backfire.
So, if you are not a psychologist, then it's best not to do something which will later require years of therapy.
The question to ask is – what are you trying to accomplish?
If your teen is a sensitive person, then embarrassing them – or worse, humiliating them – in public can make them blush and make them uncomfortable.
This, in turn, results in a spike of the amount of blood that's rushed to the teen's face, so you are actually and literally drawing someone's blood – if you are unfamiliar with this process, it's same as killing someone.
However, you go one step further and kill this person's reputation and public image.
Not many people can recover from it.
And if your teen is a resilient person, then you're conditioning them to not be afraid of humiliation in public, even if at the hand of own parent (with a parent like that, who needs enemies?).
You're also neglecting to understand that you, as a parent, are shown as a humiliated failure, too: you can't get through to your child, so you both have failed.
At least your teen has a defense: being a teen; you have no reasonable/logical explanation for your actions.
No, "this is how I was raised" won't fly here – you were raised in a way which allows humiliation, so you're not exactly the crown achievement of human civilization yourself: my teen is acting out, let's humiliate the teen! Grab a torch and some pitchforks! Really? In turn, you are teaching your own child to tolerate this kind of treatment.
Teen is supposed to act out – those who don't are just rare exceptions – and you should have spend all those pre-teen years bonding with the child and establishing a communication channel, so when teenage years roll around, you don't have to fear.
Yes, your actions are out of fear and out of realization that short of this "I do it because I can" mentality, there is nothing else that you can say to your teen which will make that person listen to you.
Teen is following your rules for the time being.
Teen is tolerating humiliation for the time being.
As soon as the teen is out of the house, you will be out of your child's life.
Hope it was the intended outcome.
In my view of the world, humiliating another human being is never, ever acceptable.
It doesn't lead to understanding, respect, or you know, actually achieving any real goals; it is ineffective, at best, and it's cruel.
It does lead to fear, a lack of trust, avoidance, and a completely damaged sense of worth on the part of the person being humiliated.
Look, if you intentionally humiliate an adult, socially, you can expect to no longer be friends with that person.
You can also expect that mutual friends will shun you, at best.
If you humiliate a subordinate a work, you will not get better performance from that person.
You may have an unpleasant meeting with HR.
It's likely that your employee will look for other job options, if they're available.
Now, you have a teenager, a young person who is at a lifetime low of self-esteem and sense of self.
A teenager's "job" is to figure out who they are, and how they differentiate themselves from their parents and other people.
It's a teenager's job to develop a sense of self.
And you think it's OK to humiliate a teen? Generally, I try to answer questions from a good place, a constructive place, but humiliating a teen is the emotional equivalent of kicking a handicapped person until they stop moving.
And it doesn't get you what you want.
Before the next time you intentionally humiliate your teen, ask yourself how you feel about being intentionally cruel.
Ask yourself if it's effectively meeting your parenting goal.
Ask yourself if having an ongoing relationship with you child, soon to become an adult, is of value to you.
Because if you keep humiliating your teen, you won't have a relationship, or at least not one that isn't defined by anger, hurt, and hostility.
So, for something constructive: try talking to your teenager and figure out a way to work with them.
I see a lot of people answering this question with the statement that humiliation is ineffectual.
I have found the opposite to be true in my personal life.
There was a time when the emotional well-being of children was secondary to pretty much everything.
CPS was only called in cases of physical abuse or obvious cases of neglect.
My childhood was full of the typical childhood stories including being sent out of the house to fight a kid bigger than me, being given hard labor to make up for some minor infraction at school, regular sessions with the belt, etc.
I even once had a strip of fabric stapled to the back of my pants with a sign above it which stated that it was my “tattle tail” because I’d tattled on my brother one too many times.
Every punishment I received certainly stuck with me and generally got my parents the desired behavioral change.
Efficacy isn’t the issue.
You’ll get the kid to do what you want in all likelihood, but the cost may be more than you want to pay in the long term.
One of the problems (not the biggest) with humiliating a teen is that it doesn’t always work, and when it fails, it often goes very, very wrong.
Teens aren’t adults.
Their brains don’t function like the brains of adults.
They don’t abstract as well.
They often don’t have the ability to shrug off criticism.
Many adults don’t even have that ability.
The problem with teens is that they don’t generally have the perspective to look back and realize that a moment of embarrassment is a blip in the context of their entire life.
Years ago, I stopped a student in the hallway who was wearing a shirt which clearly violated our school dress code.
All I did was tell the student that he couldn’t wear the shirt in the future.
I don’t even think I made him flip it inside-out in the restroom.
It wasn’t a huge deal.
The t-shirt looked like this:
About a week later, he hanged himself.
I don’t think it had anything to do with me.
He had lots of problems.
A tough home life and bad grades weren’t even the highlights in this kid’s life.
Regardless, I still question whether I had a part to play in the tragedy.
Now imagine if he had committed suicide after I had humiliated him in class.
I considered it.
I could have pulled him into my class and asked a few girls if they were okay with him wearing the shirt.
I could have made him call his parents and describe his shirt.
I could have sent him to my wife’s room across the hall and had her handle it.
If I’d done that, I don’t know how I’d have stopped beating myself up over it.
I probably wouldn’t have stopped.
This isn’t to say that I’ve never humiliated a student.
I have no doubt that I’ve done it several times, often by accident.
Still, I think our best plan as educators and parents is to start by appealing to the mind rather than just nuking a kid in front of his friends.
I’ve done a lot of work on this over the years.
There was a time where humiliating a kid would have been my go-to.
Now, I’m more likely to go for an intellectual answer.
Start by having the kids come up with the reason why their behavior is the problem, then figuring out what would be appropriate.
To say that humiliation isn’t effective isn’t necessarily true.
It is certainly largely effective in the short term.
If you want a particular behavior to stop, that’s pretty easy to do.
Simple classical conditioning.
On the other hand, you’ll have a terrible relationship with the student or child in the long term.
Also, when your kid doesn’t have anything good to say about you twenty years from now, you’ll have earned that dubious distinction.
The real question is… is it worth it? Isn’t humiliation the lazy way or the course of last resort?
I will say this from my own life even unintentional humiliation has long term effects.
I can remember clear as day all of the times I was completed humiliated as a punishment.
Children of all ages have delicate self-confidence.
And when that’s destroyed it leads to a lot of problems.
By the time I was fifteen I had zero confidence and I did poorly in school and serious health problems occurred unnoticed for a long time.
I knew that my family loved, but it still hasn’t made me forgive them for using humiliation as a punishment.
My family would sent my bad grades to the whole family.
I never wanted to try at school because the more I tried the harder it would be when I failed.
I had dyslexia and school and I didn’t get along.
I can remember clearly a family member belittling me because I was just sitting in my room crying in the dark saying ‘a normal teenage girl doesn’t act that way’.
blah, blah, blah.
I just turned them out.
Another family member announced to the whole restaurant how selfish I was just because I wanted to talk about my problem, for once.
All I learned from it is not to let my family in.
I couldn’t trust people not to backstab me.
It wasn’t worth trying to prove them wrong because they’ll never see it.
It but a huge kink in my relationship with my family.
I don’t speak to them unless I have to.
I do love them and I know they do love me, but loving is not forgiveness.
Because if I forgive them I’ll forget about it.
And all of that made me who I am.
My life would have been so much happier if they had just talked to me like adults should do and not look down on me and if they would not just hear my words but listen our lives would have been much easier.
Kids or teenagers don’t act up for no reason.
Whatever is really going on it can be identified then dealt with.
I was struggling with school and if someone had taken the time to ask me what was bothering me or why I wasn’t turning stuff in they would have noticed my dyslexia before I got into college.
Kids or teenagers will act out for what seems like silly things for adults, but to developing brain it isn’t silly it’s a very real problem.
The brain doesn’t fully develop until around twenty-two.
Before then critical thinking abilities are not fully developed.
Brain chemistry has a lot to do with why teens do dumb things.
However, the whole hormones excuse is bs because it’s not teenagers that have the most hormonal changes, but rather between the ages of nine and ten when hormones change the most.
Changes with puberty can be observed in children as young as five.
Puberty isn’t just something that happens in preteens and teenagers.
Just like how parents hate the “terrible two’s” it is the same thing with teenagers.
Parent have a hard time accepting their children are not robots or toys.
They are people with independent minds.
They will create their own morals and opinions that will differ from yours.
Adults as a whole must learn to understand and respect the difference of opinions.
That’s what adults are supposed to do at least that’s what I’ve always been taught adults are supposed to act like.
The teenage years can be a wonderful experience too.
I’ve known friends who’s parents were still acting as parents, but not ruling with the so called ‘iron fist’.
It can be a great age to create and strength bonds as well as destroy.
If you want respect you have to give it too.
Respecting someone who doesn’t respect you isn’t something most people can do.
It is the parents job to teach their children right from wrong even as a teenager.
Controlling children forever isn’t possible, but if you have taught them right they’ll make it just fine.
It starts as toddlers, but it’s never too late.
Well that depends…is it the humiliation of having car keys taken, all their precious communication with Friends stopped for a short time? Maybe having to say sorry I can't hang , Im working for mom till my arms fall off.
nope, I don't see any problem.
But if the humiliation is a deep painful one that wouldn't be easily forgotten if you faced it, I'd say hell no!
Being a parent is about teaching children in a way they become whole , independent healthy adults….
if possible to teach them to be better than you.
You sound like you fear losing control and you'll hold control at all cost.
Let me share a secret that wise parents told me… that child has always had their own ….
separate from you ….
thoughts, feelings, and needs.
So control is a joke.
You never had it and won't ever fully get it.
The most you have is a ridged form of guidance.
Even that much and you risk having a child who might obey your every word.
Two problems there….
if they do and they fear the humiliation you taught …they may ask you till your dead how to do simple tasks……
Sounds good…oh no….
because then every choice that ends up being wrong, is guess who's fault? Every person they date will despise the ground you walk.
Crazy how a spouse wants to be in on choices and not share with mommy.
Especially when they see fear of humiliation behind it from childhood.
And a word about that.
The child will become an adult…you will become older and needy in life….
and you'll be impatient not understanding why you your body won't do what you know is the right things.
Kinda like your child now but they have hormones and a mind without many experiences to stop good behavior….
Children whos lives are damaged by abuse or what THEY not you believe is abuse can become abusive.
I'm just pointing out how to avoid the worst case….
make sure whatever the punishment…you wouldn't mind happening to you at 80 -90yrs old, if you were unable to stop it.
Talk to the kid.
make sure he knows the whys of actions and punishment… I didn't need to humiliate to show you actions have far reaching consequences.
Also allow for reasons…not excuses.
Realize some rebel to become an individual.
You have to let some of it slide.
They have to feel competent that they might out smart ya (seldom) lol
Look I'm not saying your wrong.
I'm saying do what your teaching…use your head .
My grandma grated soap across my teeth and I refuse to this day to buy ivory, and back then I refuse just holding the bar in my mouth.
Did I make the punishment worse…yep….
did I deserve it yep…I was old enough to know the words, son of a bitch, would get me something bad.
Do I have lasting hurt or trauma …nope….
I had a filthy mouth, and she was an A+ at cleaning.
I still can cuss a blue streak but I shut the hell up in front of my elders.
So no harm no foul I say!
I think working washing dishes during a months grounding did more for my insolent teen self than humiliation.
Cause it was embarrassing but it taught me some work ethics and gave grandma time to get to know the almost adult I was.
You have to get instructions in durning times your not punishing.
Keep it simple,they are teens not rocket scientists…pick only the most important wars with them.
Like your girl wants a skirt short enough her undies show bending over…you sons sure he could drive home drunk.
I usually am really hard on people who are not empathetically reasonable.
Idk you must have caught me feeling especially nice.
Something tells me if you were sure of this you wouldn't ask.
You are fine with punishment but maybe not sure what's too much….
hope I helped measure using how you'd feel.
Remember if your not so harsh you can keep teaching them for many years.
And if you are you might become the reason everyone knows your adult child's life is screwed up.
You want respected.
So be what you respect in others.
Be fair and forgiving.
And may you have a great person come out of these struggles who your happy if not dang well proud of.
If the childs a success so are you.
If you humiliate your teenaged kid you're setting up problems for the kid and for yourself in the future.
It can seem very daunting when a teenager wants to go their own way but the best method of getting desired behaviour is to put consequences on undesired behaviour.
Just as with younger kids, you need to be calm and firm and to be on their side, while insisting that the consequences will be enforced.
And sometimes they will carry on regardless, as the need to be separate from parents overwhelms the need to conform.
Just don't let your own feelings of helplessness spill over into cruel behaviour to enforce your power.
Teenagers need adults who love them and care for them and who can hold firm boundaries without sarcasm or humiliation.
It's a difficult time of life for most of us.
Show a bit of empathy!
My first instinct of course was the echo the sentiments of others here, that it is cruel, likely ineffective and would destroy a teen’s self-esteem.
But before saying as much I decided to look at the research on the matter before declaring it ineffective and it turned out my initial reaction appears to be wrong.
A study looked at the effects of public humiliation punishments on criminal offenders.
It sought to assess whether public shame would increase or decrease the chances of re-offending.
What it found is that this largely depended upon the offender.
If the offender blamed others for their actions then they were likely to reoffend.
If however the offender took responsibility for their own actions public humiliation was an effective way to prevent them from reoffending.
Here’s the most intriguing finding.
Apparently it’s the powerful desire to hide away that determines shame’s effects.
People who are experiencing shame want to avoid others, and it may be that shame-prone ex-offenders do just that—withdraw from everyone, including their partners in crime, and thus stay clean.
Or they might use their jail time to hunker down and think; they anticipate future shame, which has a deterrent effect on criminal activity.