Parents posting 'child shaming' videos of kid's punishments sparks debate

A child psychologist warns that shaming children as punishment could backfire.

April 11, 2018, 2:00 PM

The number of parents using social media as a means to curb their child's bad behavior has sparked a heated debate in the parenting community and raised alarm from some child psychologists.

Last month, a Facebook Live video posted by Virginia father Bryan Thornhill, 33, of his 10-year-old son running a mile to school in the rain while he drove slowly behind him went viral.

"Welcome to 'You better listen to your Dad 2018,'" Thornhill said in the clip. "This right here is just good old-fashioned parenting."

"He was being a little bully, which I do not tolerate, cannot stand," Thornhill added in the video.

Since being reposted on another Facebook page, the video of Thornhill's son jogging to school in the rain has since garnered over 32 million views.

"Since he's been running to school this week his behavior has been much better," Thornhill said in the video.

Cierra Forney, a mother from Georgia, shared a photo of her son last month on Facebook, writing in the caption that she was making him shop for clothes at Goodwill after he started acting "entitled."

Forney wrote that he was "acting like he's too good to shop at Walmart or making snarky comments about kids at school who shop at the Goodwill," adding, "I don't tolerate that."

The post of her son shopping at Goodwill as punishment soon garnered over 750,000 reactions and more than 270,000 shares.

PHOTO: Cierra Forney, of Georgia, posted a photo of her teenage son's punishment on Facebook.
Cierra Forney, of Georgia, posted a photo of her teenage son's punishment on Facebook.
Cierra Forney/Facebook

Forney told ABC News that she decided to discipline her son because he was "feeling like he's better than the other kids at school because he gets name brand things, just making like snarky, rude, underlying remarks."

She added: "I don't know if I changed my son forever, but I know that I will never sit back and watch him or any child bully or try to bully another child."

PHOTO: Cierra Forney, of Georgia, speaks out about her decision to post about her son's behavior on Facebook.
Cierra Forney, of Georgia, speaks out about her decision to post about her son's behavior on Facebook.
ABC News

While both parents told ABC News that posting about their children being disciplined online was not a part of the punishment, that they weren't intending to humiliate their children and that they had their kids' permission before posting, some critics slammed the parents for publicly shaming the children.

Dr. David Anderson, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute in New York City said that from a mental health perspective, these online posts could potentially be damaging.

Anderson said most mental health professionals would not advise using shame as a tactic.

When it comes to effective discipline, Anderson recommends that parents should be consistent about punishments and deliver them after a particular bad behavior. In addition, punishment should be delivered calmly, and in small doses at a time.

This way, he says, parents can focus on properly addressing what their child did wrong, and focus on fixing the behavior that was incorrect so that the child's behavior changes going forward.

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