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#15: Parents Making their Kids Hold Signs as Punishment. What’s Really Going on?

I am a father that is very much in favor of disciplining my children.  Children need discipline for a variety of reasons but the obvious one is to let them know there are consequences for their actions.  When I was younger I was provided with quite a bit of discipline.  I can’t remember exactly what I did wrong to receive the discipline, but I can’t say that it was unwarranted.

The discipline I received as a child included spankings, being spanked with a wooden spoon (which my butt broke frequently) and restriction for what was usually weeks at a time.  Even though the spankings weren’t pleasant, I remember hating the restriction.  I would come home after school and just stare out my front window as my friends played outside.  It was a miserable feeling to stay inside as a punishment.  I was pretty good at entertaining myself during those times which usually meant I would play with my G.I. Joes and my Star Wars action figures for hours.

One thing I noticed about being punished is that my parents didn’t make it public or brag about it.  It wasn’t to show everyone how serious they were about discipline or to gain attention from the situation.  The only time my discipline was brought up to others is when a friend came to the door to see if I could play or if a family member inquired.

This day and age is a different story.  Parents like to make a spectacle of the discipline given to their child.  They make their children holds signs in public places that say what they did wrong and how their parents are making them hold the sign.  Today I read how a couple of parents made their child hold a sign at a busy intersection in Florida basically indicating that she was being punished, she was a good child but wasn’t acting like it. The child was not traumatized as many would believe.  Other parents have made videos shooting their child’s laptop over something written on a social network like Facebook.  The parents are going out of their way to ensure the child is embarrassed; or are they?

Parents Looking for Attention

This increase in public discipline seems a bit weird to me.  I don’t know if it is a change in culture or the advancement in technology that is spurring on this behavior by parents.  Does making their child hold a sign change their child’s behavior? Does shooting their child’s laptop and posting the video on YouTube change the behavior of their child?

The truth is I don’t know what comes of this type of discipline.  But my theory on this type of discipline is that it really isn’t for the child.  I think parents want attention for what they are doing.  They have found what they believe to be a unique way of teaching their child a lesson and they want to be noticed for their out of the box thinking. In other words I think it is less about discipline and more about the parents needing attention.

My children are young at the moment and the challenges I face with them now will be different each year.  But I can say for certain that I liked the way my parents kept our business, our business.  They didn’t feel the need to tell the world I was in trouble. And I too don’t feel the need to tell everyone my child is on restriction or is being disciplined.  The discipline itself is enough.  My wife and I don’t need attention for being good parents and bringing up respectful children.  Just having them turn out ok will be all the attention I need as a father.

Opinions might differ on this subject so I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue.


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