My parents have always told my sisters and I that we were fortunate to have them as our mother and father, not their parents. Dad would say, “If I ever came home past the curfew — even if I were only two minutes late — I would get spanked.” Mom would add, “Girls are not lucky either. In case we toed the line, Ma would be there to pinch our side or tell us to be prim and proper.”
Of course, their stories were challenging to believe because my grandparents never exuded scary vibes around their grandkids. They often played with us or gave us money to buy whatever we wanted. And if Mom or Dad was starting to look pissed, they were always there to keep us from getting yelled at. I thought, “Hmm, Granny and Pops might have been frightening back then, but they have mellowed down now.”
Still, as I gained more years, I realized that many parents acted like they were living in the past. Meaning, they continued to use harsh forms of punishment to ensure that the children won’t forget the consequences of their actions. They did not even bother to put themselves in the kids’ shoes and see how the punishments could ruin the youngsters’ mental health.
For reference purposes, allow me to share scenarios that your kids should never experience.
Scenario #1: Shaming
Shaming occurs when a child messes up, and you criticize them because of it in public places or during social gatherings.
For instance, Sam had been playing with his cousins in the backyard while raining. You told him not to do it because he might slip and fall, but he did it anyway. So, when you turned out to be correct, you didn’t bother asking if he was okay. Instead, you said, “See, you made a fool out of yourself in front of everyone since you didn’t listen to me. Clean yourself now; you’re embarrassing me.”
The more humiliation you put a kid through, the more their heart might harden, to the extent that they would stop caring about you.
Scenario #2: Physical Abuse
Some people believe that there is nothing wrong with giving children a spanking once in a while, especially if they have committed grave mistakes. However, there is a fine line that separates reasonable corporal punishment and physical abuse that parents should never cross.
Say, Andie was known to be a town prankster from a young age. Her peers found her cool and funny, but the adults were always complaining about her. When Andie’s mother heard that she egged the neighbor’s car, she spanked her one time, hoping it would Andie from misbehaving. But when she got caught spray-painting others’ gates with profanities, the mother couldn’t help but see red. She dragged Andie to the house and started slapping and smacking the child, not caring where her hands landed.
No matter how upsetting your offspring’s behavior is, you should never resort to physical violence to discipline them. That never works, I’m telling you now.
Scenario #3: Not Feeding Or Locking Up
How many horror movies have you seen where angry ghosts of children came out of the closet? The typical backstory is that their crazy parents locked them up without food or water for days. Even if they cry or yell or push against the doors, it won’t budge. It could get to a point where the child would eventually die and start haunting the closet and the entire house where it’s located.
Well, although real-life parents might argue that they would never starve or lock up a child for days, simply not feeding them a meal or not letting them out of their room for hours at a time could crush their mental health. It would become apparent that you didn’t mind seeing them hungry and helpless, and they might be emotionally distant sooner than later.
Scenario #4: Kicking Out Of The House
We once had a neighbor whose idea of disciplining their kid was making the boy sit on the steps of the front porch for at least two hours. The first few times I witnessed it, I saw the boy crying and begging his parents to let him in the house. However, as it became a go-to method of his mom and dad, the child eventually stopped caring about getting kicked out of the house, and his behavior worsened.
That’s another possible result of punishing kids unfairly. The more you do it, the more they realize how mean you are. Since they can’t talk back, they take revenge by acting up. If the parents used other disciplinary tactics, things would have been different.
If you are still thinking of how to discipline your kids, you need to consider how it could affect their mental health. You cannot dish out whatever form of punishment you think of and expect the child to come out fine in the end.
Avoid all the scenarios mentioned above to be able to raise a happy, mentally stable kid. Good luck!