With the rise of social media there seems to be a sad trend emerging - public humiliation as a tactic for disciplining children. I was shocked and disturbed by how many of my own Facebook contacts were hitting "like" recently on a video of a father shooting his daughter's laptop as a form of discipline for being disrespectful on Facebook. As friends reposted the viral video their comments included such things as "finally someone got it right".

My reaction was an equal mix of sadness and outrage. The father didn't have it right. Did the situation call for disciplinary action? Sure. I don't even care that he put several bullets through the laptop as much as I care that he posted it online thereby humiliating his daughter.

Another photo floating around Facebook recently showed a young girl in tears holding a sign that said, "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!" There are several other photos floating around where children have been made to stand in parking lots and on street corners with signs hanging around their neck to announce to the world that they are thieves and cheaters.

Jane Nelson puts it well when she asks, "Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse?" I don't believe the above examples will positively define these children in life. In fact, huge therapy bills may be necessary to reverse the damage!

Using public humiliation when disciplining children can be very effective if you only want to change behavior. Out of fear of further embarrassment they will avoid that same action in the future. They will have learned a lesson. They will have been manipulated into conduct that is more acceptable to their disciplinarian.

The word discipline comes from the root "disciple" which means to teach. When I see children being embarrassed publicly by their authority figure I don't see them being taught anything that will serve them well in the future. I see them measuring up in the moment to avoid further embarrassment. Their hearts are not turning from wrong to right. In fact their hearts are becoming hard towards their parents and they are losing trust in a place that should be their solid foundation of their formative years. Damage has been done to the relationship. It saddens me to my core.

I heard a story when I was young of a teenager in the throes of peer pressure. He was refusing to go along with what his friends were encouraging him to do. They teased him and said, "Oh - are you afraid your dad's going to hurt you if you do?" He replied, "No, I'm afraid I will hurt him."

Wouldn't we all rather have our children obeying us out of a heart that wants to do the right thing than out of fear of what will happen if they don't? I talk a lot about life skills and setting our children up well for life. That's really our job as parents. If all our discipline during the child-rearing years has taught them is to make sure their actions line up so as to avoid public humiliation - we've missed the mark! Heaven help them when they leave home and no longer have us to answer to.

The most effective discipline goes right to the heart. "It is vital that when educating our children's brains, that we do not neglect to educate their hearts" - Dalai Lama. Let that resonate with you. How will it change how you discipline children? Don't humiliate them into conformity. Educate their hearts.

Author's Bio: 

Susan L. Paterson invites you to visit her website http://communicationwithkids.com/. If you wish parenting were simpler you'll love her blog. It's overflowing with "simple parent strategies" that will help improve your relationship with your kids. While you're there sign up for a free "simple parent strategy" to be e-mailed weekly to help simplify parenting.