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The GEM Debate: Punishment – What Works And What Doesn’t?

Pointing finger


You may remember a couple of days ago when we posted about a mother who not only sold her boys’ toys on eBay but took an anguished picture of them to go along with the advert?

Well guess what – now we have another entry from the school of “humiliating your kids as punishment”

This case involves a Tampa mom who was so frustrated with her son’s poor grades that she made him wear a sign for nearly four hours, boasting of his anemic academic accomplishments. Apparently the final straw was when the boy refused to take seriously a meeting with school officials. (By the way, there’s no mention of whether the mom tried to hire a tutor for her struggling son).

Okay, I’ve said it before and I stand by my opinion. Punishment is one thing, public castigation and embarrassment is a whole different matter. In my mind this falls under the heading of emotional abuse and while the scars may not be readily seen, they are there nonetheless. Punish your kids with the intent of changing their behavior not poking holes in their budding self-esteem.

But I know how hard parenting can be at times and while I’d never punish Casey or Cole in this manner – I’ve certainly lost my cool at times.

So here’s today’s GEM Debate….


When it comes to punishing your kids – what works and what doesn’t?


What tricks have you learned over the years and what mistakes have you made?


I’d love to hear your thoughts – so start commenting everyone – the floor is yours!






  1. Alex Guzman

    February 25, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I would get a tutor for the child cause public humiliation or any for that matter would not help it would just embarrass the child. If you the parent do not like being embarrassed then put yourself in their shoes and do not do that to them

  2. M.E. Johnson

    February 25, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I saw him on the telly. He ain’t no little kid. He’s big enough to be a smart-ass. Seems she’d tried everything she could. Maybe tutors cost money she did not have. Maybe he refused to meet/work with one. Anyway, seemed he was learning something from the experience.

    This was done before to a boy who stole. It worked. He swore he’d never steal again. On tv. In this case a little public humiliation is a hell of a lot better than an arrest picture all over the news.

    One thing I’ve learned: Never say what you’ll never do or what you’ll always do. Life is full of surprises.

  3. Rene Syler

    February 25, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    @ M.E. wasn’t the punishment for the kid who stole from a judge? Not his parent.. I stand by my initial reaction.. I won’t humiliate my kid no matter how much they piss me off. That’s a line I will not cross.

  4. Deanna

    February 25, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    I am curious to know what you all think it means when the bible states: “raise a child in the way he should go so when he is old he will never depart from it.”

  5. Deanna

    February 25, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Let me give you an example: when Aaron sons were giving an offering to the Lord in the Temple…….it states they offered a strange fire…now I don’t know what kind of fire it was…but it was NOT pleasing to the Lord!!! He killed Aaron’s sons right in front of him!!!!
    Did you know that Aaron had to continue with the ceremony as if nothing had happened????? Humiliation is not the word for that!!!!!
    Let see the punishment should fit the crime!
    Bad student consumed by fire by the Lord or Bad student standing on the corner holding a sign????
    I will take the corner with a sign!!!!!!! He will never get bad grades again I betcha!!!

  6. M.E. Johnson

    February 26, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Rene, I’m familiar with the judge one. I speak of one farther back (maybe that’s where the judge got the idea.). Seems Mom had tried everything else, was determined her son would not be a criminal/hoodlum.

    Little kids, no. That’s different from big ‘ol smart-mouth, know-it-all, hard-headed teens who ~ by law ~ you still have to take care of, go to court with and try to raise right.

    I admire your position, as it seems you are not going to ever have such problems. Praise Be! But until we’ve been there, know the history, I’m just not sure we should judge, that’s all I’m saying. xo

  7. Jennifer @ Natural Parents Network

    February 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    In the wide realm that defines discipline, I agree humiliation should be no where on the list. There are many ways to work with our children to create a life we can both be proud of. A key point is connecting with them, working out plans that bring us together so we want the same things. So many people seem to jump on board when they report the “alternative judgments” like the billboard wearers, and feel so bad that that child (even if it is a teenager) has lost their connection with a caring adult.

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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