After a mom in Texas was captured on video while making her son do push-ups in a public bathroom (supposedly giving him a lesson on respect), she was praised by viewers. But what’s wrong with this picture?
Molly Wooden, a mother who took the video, posted it to Facebook with a message of approval.
“To the woman in the Hobby Lobby bathroom. If my hands weren’t full of children I would have applauded you. As your son gave you the back talk of the century, you stayed calm and collected while adding 10 more push ups to his already growing number,” she wrote. “We need more parents like you, who aren’t afraid to parent their own children because of what someone else might think. He said ‘Mama, this is the bathroom floor, grossssss.’ She said ‘maybe you shouldn’t have been acting obnoxious. (They have soap for a reason.) 10 more.'”
Wooden’s video garnered 54k likes. Most notably, over 10k viewers had something to say about it.
So, does this tactic actually raise your children to be more respectful and disciplined? We spoke with family psychologist Dr. Barbara Greenberg to get her expert opinion, and she makes it clear: “This is absolutely NOT a lesson in respect. This is public humiliation,” Greenberg tells SheKnows.
And she’s not alone; there was a clear divide between those who agreed with Wooden and those who found this parenting tactic terrifying and awful. “Discipline is discipline. I applaud you mama. God bless you and your family,” one commenter wrote in support.
Another chimed in: “This is not parenting — it’s bullying! Her body language is proof. Scary — not loving.”
And not only is this kind of parenting tactic damaging to kids, it doesn’t even work in getting them to behave. “Nothing good comes from public humiliation except shame, which is one of the worst feelings there is and one of the hardest feelings to recover from,” Greenberg added. “There are lots of ways to teach a child respect, but this is certainly not one of them.”
Greenberg adds that your kids are always watching you, so being thoughtful and compassionate around them really does matter. “When they have been respectful, praise them,” she advises parents. “When they have been disrespectful, take them to a private place with no audience and suggest alternative ways that they could have handled the situation. Kids want nothing more than to please you.”
And that doesn’t mean they want to please you via enacting your bizarre public push-up punishment. Show your kids the behaviors you want to see, starting with yourself — model how to deal with frustration in an appropriate and thoughtful way. Kids are sponges and will absorb (and pass along) everything they learn from you — including the traumas.