A new controversial trend on TikTok, which includes disciplining one’s child and then sharing it with the world to see, can negatively affect children —- according to experts.
The examples are endless, scarily enough. One dad swears at his daughter and smashes her laptop because she left it in bed while she was supposed to be sleeping. A mom posted a clip of her kids scrubbing floors as punishment for fighting. Another father smashed his daughter’s TV with his guitar because she was playing video games while she was supposed to be cleaning her room.
And while many parents admit the videos were staged — they were not without consequences. Someone reported the latter parents to his local child protective services department. The dad told WSJ, “I’m upset that I had to put my kids through that.”
Many researches have noted how shaming children are not effective long-term.
Licensed and nationally certified school psychologist in Ridgefield, Connecticut, Melanie Pearl, explains, “It leads to fractured relationships and decreases in self-esteem, and can actually encourage a child to become sneakier with their behaviors. So, it’s not that your kid won’t repeat the behavior that has upset you; it’s that next time they’ll be better at hiding it, which can cause increasingly more serious problems as they get older.
And why would some parents believe this is the best option to punish their child? “Parents who make these videos, when they aren’t staged, are being reactive rather than proactive in their discipline,” says Pearl. “They are responding to their own frustration that the child isn’t following a direction.”
Pearl explains how parents might think: “I’ll teach my child not to disrespect me” or “I’ll show them who’s in control here.” And then when they post to social media, they are seeking validation. “Though they might receive critical comments for the video, they are also likely to receive some kudos from other parents, which just increases the chances that they’ll do it again,” says Pearl.
But this process does not equal success. “You have a parent who has shown they have a hard time regulating their own behavior, which isn’t a great model for the kid,” says Pearl. “You have a kid who is scared and ashamed. You’ve got a strain on the parent-child relationship. You’ve just made things harder in your household without realizing it.”
And last but certainly not least, the exploitativeness of the parent using the child for laughs or follows, says Pearl, as this can set a dangerous precedent for a young person’s future relationships.
“We don’t want to be teaching our children that it’s okay for someone to exploit you as long as you’re in a relationship with them or as long as they tell you they love you,” she notes. “That’s not a belief we want kids carrying into adulthood.”
“We need to be constantly striving for much more ‘correction with connection’ than punishment,” says Pearl. “We need to try to view misbehaviors as learning opportunities. We want our kids to grow to understand why they choose certain behaviors, not blindly comply because they are afraid of being hurt or shamed.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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