There’s No Perfect Way To Discipline Kids, But Mom Who Sent Daughter To School In Bad Outfits Did Right By Me
Disciplining children is a tricky thing. What works for one child might not get through to another. What works for ten-year-olds might not work for toddlers or teens. I can understand parents frustrated with their stubborn, thick-headed kids want something more powerful than sending them to their rooms or withholding dessert. However it is thin line between helpful and harmful – one I think Utah mom, Ally, navigated well.
Kaylee, Ally’s step-daughter, had been relentlessly making fun of a classmate for her outfit choices. After three weeks and a declaration by her victim that she no longer wanted to go to school because of Kaylee’s teasing, the teacher contacted Ally. Ally told Kaylee the behavior was unacceptable, but it wasn’t enough to make her stop. So, Ally got creative.
Kaylee woke one morning to find her hip and awesome duds replaced with garish and cheap thrift store goods. For two days she had to wear used outfits picked out by Ally, that were not up to her stylist standards. Ten-year-old Kaylee was humiliated, but I think these were fair consequences.
Let me say that I am not a proponent of the recent trend where parents publicly humiliate their kids as punishment for bad behavior. For a period of time it felt like parents were trying to outdo each other, standing their kids out on street corners with signs around their necks declaring their offspring as bullies, thieves, liars, and lazy-asses who don’t listen. These parents usually took it upon themselves to record the incidents and upload the humiliation to YouTube, or at the very least take pictures to post on Facebook.
The problem with these stunts is they are intended to create shame, which is a dangerous tactic. In Ally’s case, she intended to instill empathy. We don’t know what her victim was wearing, but it shouldn’t matter if she has terrible fashion sense, a unique point of view, or perhaps is simply too poor to wear designers that some kids fall over these days. Here the punishment fit the crime — if you make fun of something as superficial as another girl’s outfit to the point that girl can’t bear to go to school, you have your freedom to choose your own clothes — and have someone buy them for you — taken away. If what happens after that causes humiliation, because your friends don’t like you as much when you wear clothes that are different, that’s fair game. Hopefully, it gave her a perspective of empathy for the classmate she teased, unlike unrelated punishments such as losing certain in home privileges.
Some people are uncomfortable with the public nature of this punishment because she was sent to school in the offending outfits. But the level of humiliation is the same as being grounded and having to tell your friends you can’t hang out, go to a party or a sleepover because you’re being punished for something you did. Or losing phone privileges for two weeks and telling the boy or girl you like that he can’t call or text as a consequence of your bad behavior.
It’s true that Ally’s method of discipline did not take place within the privacy of her home, but — unlike the over-the-top, seemingly unrelated, cases of public humiliation — the punishment fit the crime.