It was second grade, when the teacher regularly made me stand in the corner (with the broom), where the whole class could view, because I talked too much. She believed that if she humiliated me, that I would somehow bow down in compliance.
Shaming children into compliance is a terrible discipline technique that doesn’t help anyone involved. Shaming is so often ingrained in our culture and families that we don’t even recognize it as such. It is one of the first tools (weapons) we use to teach. As a child, if you don’t do what you are told, you are shamed somehow. Sadly, this is still an accepted norm in many homes and schools.
Let’s break it down: Parent/Adult shames child for child’s non-compliance. Then the child responds with: sadness, anger, and lack of self-esteem. There’s also the kid that falls right in line with these aggressive directional techniques. You think this child is fine because he complies. You don’t see is the heartbroken lonely child that is not open with you because you have damaged your relationship.
Punishments and repercussions have changed over the years, but it’s not enough to be less abrasive with shaming. To shame is to humiliate. Humiliation means causing someone’s loss of self-respect. Humiliation and punishment are meant (supposedly) to force you to behave. Degradation is another person inflicting emotional distress on you, in order to get what THEY want.
So, why is it so easy for parents and teachers to incorporate this in their “discipline” plans? I know many people will disagree and have a difficult time understanding what I am referring to because it is so normal in our society to intentionally discredit others.
For many people, this is the norm in parenting. Oh sure there are a ton of reasons why we do it, and I can hear a few of them already. For most of us, it’s a lack of knowing something different. We behave in our lives the way the majority of people behave, without regard to whether it is correct or good. The correctness lies only within the behaviors norm within our society. Things become norms even when they are damaging. They remain norms when we refuse to learn and pay attention to new information.
Changing times have led us to more information and understanding about biology, including the complexity of human nature. Unfortunately, this hasn’t drifted too far into the masses of people and how they behave. The behavior that I am most concerned with is the lack of respect that people have for one another. Starting with that alone, it is not surprising that shaming is a favorite technique.
It’s not only our relationships with our children, where humiliation and ridicule remain (poor) communication techniques. In an attempt to persuade, we wrongly use this type of technique with other adults. Sometimes, we understand it is rude, yet can’t help ourselves. We should help ourselves. If we could hear our words through someone else ears, then maybe we might understand. It is increasingly difficult to seek understanding in an ever more hostile world. Start with yourself and be kind to yourself. Once you stop shaming yourself for not meeting your goals (or being – fill in the blank-), then you are working towards positive change.