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Why Shaming Teens or Kids Shouldn't Be Part of Parenting

New study: Teens mocked by mom or dad are at greater risk for bullying.

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Schools were just ending in Florida when we witnessed another parent taking to social media to punish her teenage daughter for lying to her. This mother made her daughter stand on a busy intersection in Cape Coral holding a sign reading, “I lied.” The video, posted on Facebook, instantly went viral.

Online public shaming is not new, but when it concerns children, parents need to be aware of the consequences of their actions and the emotional damage that can be done. There are no winners when you humiliate a young person, especially when it goes viral.

Short-term gratification, long-term ramifications

In the heat of the moment, you may believe you're acting in the best interest of your teen, especially if they did something that was extremely risky. What we all have to remember is that anger is temporary, but online is forever. This cyber-moment of shame will live over and over in your child's head as well as a blueprint of their online reputation. Is this what you really want?

A recent study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence shares new evidence that suggests adolescent bullying and victimization may have origins in the home. Many bullies have parents who are hostile, punitive and rejecting.

According to the researchers at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), derisive parenting precipitates a cycle of negative affect and anger between parents and adolescents, which ultimately leads to greater adolescent bullying and victimization.

The senior author of this study, Daniel Dickson of Concordia University, cautions parents of the potential long-term costs of seemingly harmless behavior such as belittlement and sarcasm:

"Parents must be reminded of their influence on adolescents' emotions and should take steps to ensure that adolescents do not feel ridiculed at home."

When your child becomes the bully or cyberbully

It's not a secret: Sometimes the apple doesn't fall from the tree and, sadly, we have to face the fact that our own child may be acting out due to home experiences.

This study suggests that derisive behavior is a unique form of parenting that increases the risks that adolescent children will adopt inappropriate anger management strategies that increase their risk for peer difficulties and relationships.

A co-author of the new study, Charles E. Schmidt of Florida Atlantic University, said;

"Our study is important because it provides a more complete understanding of how parents' belittling and critical interactions with adolescents thwart their ability to maintain positive relationships with peers."

It starts at home

Michele Borba, author of The 6R's of Bullying Prevention and UnSelfie, believes parents need to be involved in learning about effective behavior management. It starts early and it starts at home. In her book, she concurs that the children of parents who do not have clear limits on aggressive behavior and may use physical punishment can become increasingly aggressive.

Borba shares these steps to help parents when tempers begin to spark:

  1. Listen: Hear the bells going off. Whenever things are getting rough, pay very close attention to changes in your body. Everyone is different but usually alarms go off in your body that warn you if you’re starting to lose control. So be on the alert for any familiar body signs that you might be losing your temper.
  2. Stop: Hit the snooze button. Even a few seconds to pause are enough to stop your temper from exploding or doing something you may regret later. Find what works for you. Some kids pull a big stop sign in front of their eyes or yell, “Stop” inside their heads. It will help you put the brakes on your temper.
  3. Breath: Turn down the volume. Once you’ve told yourself to keep under control, you have to take a slow, deep breaths to slow down your heart rate and get yourself back in control.

  4. Separate: Get back into tune. Back off from whatever is about to blow up in your face. You could count to 10 (or 100); hum a few bars of the Star-Spangled Banner, think of a pepperoni pizza, or gaze up in the sky — whatever it takes to regain your sense of calm.

As adults and parents, we are role models. It starts with us, both offline and online.


Teens 'mocked' by their parents are at greater risk for bullying, victimization, July 9, 2019

UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed In An All About Me World, Simon & Schuster

6R's of Bullying Prevention, Free Spirit

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