Posted in Discipline vs. Control, Parenting, recipes, Reflections

“Why Are You So Dumb?” (Part 1)

Hi everyone. Please excuse my lack of posts since Mother’s Day. It’s been a busy past month. School begins its wind-down and the rush to last-minute paperwork on.

banana n almond butter
Easiest breakfast ever: sliced banana with a drizzle of almond butter. Pair with (almond) milk for a gluten-free, super-energizing, no-cook start to the day!

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. William James 

I was waiting in line at the food market the other day. A boy—maybe about 10 (?) years of age—was standing next to me. He was looking toward the back of the store, and appearing a hair uncertain.

A woman—perhaps his mother or grandmother (?)—approached him, glanced at the line, then at him.

“Why are you so dumb?” Her raised voice and annoyed tones conveyed her frustration—and turned the heads of anyone nearby.

(I’ll surmise the boy should have been keeping the woman’s place in line.)

The folks ahead of me must have thought the same. They offered to let the boy back in. No harm. No foul.

Someone must have commented about there being no problem. The woman, however, maintained her (mild) indignation, and her right to admonish the boy. “He has to learn.”

People, I had to bite my tongue. The woman might have been old-school. She had an accent, which suggests culture might have influenced the way she addressed the boy. She also might truly believe she was acting out of love.

As I wrote this, I had to wonder: If shaming that child in public was her way of “teaching” him, how does she deal with him behind closed doors?

I don’t consider myself an expert at anything, folks. I do, however, care deeply about how others feel, children in particular.

I suppose belittling and shaming, publicly or privately, might get a child’s attention. Will they “learn” from the experience?


Chances are, the child will remember feeling embarrassed more than s/he remembers the infraction.

But like everything else—in terms of action and reaction—shaming and belittling don’t lack for consequences.

We’ll pick this up next time.


14 thoughts on ““Why Are You So Dumb?” (Part 1)

  1. I don’t believe shaming is effective parenting. Respecting kids is as important as respecting adults is. That doesn’t mean discipline isn’t sometimes needed, but it can be done without humiliating a child, especially in public. My heart would have ached for that child too.


    1. I’m thinking that kids who are not respected by adults have all the potential to grow into adults who don’t respect kids. Not a good cycle. Thanks, Carrie!


    1. Sad, isn’t it? I’m hoping that woman’s intentions were good, though I don’t agree with her way of dealing with that boy. (Funny. Thought I saw her at a school picnic the other day, an event that is exclusive to our special needs kids. Hmmm.) I do believe it’s harder for older generations. I might be wrong, but I believe mine is the first that actually started considering one’s feelings, and in particular, those of children.

      Thanx, Tess!


  2. I’ll say this, that poor boy will always remember the shame of being yelled at in public and I’d bet money she says harsher things at home. I’d hate to blame culture for her behavior. I’d like to think it’s her ignorance. Love has nothing to do with it. I wonder what I would’ve done in that situation…is it our place to say something? To try and help an innocent, defenseless child. Great post!


    1. I imagine culture, the way the woman was raised, her personality and who knows what other factors influenced her behavior in that moment?

      I watched and bit my tongue–hard, I’m sure. Someone did comment and her answer and attitude were clear: “He has to learn.” I doubt anything anyone might have said would have changed her thoughts on the matter–especially in that moment she seemed so annoyed. Dealing with kids is a process that is ever-evolving, or so says MHO.

      I learned a great line a couple of years back: “There are two kinds of business. My business and none of my business.” At that moment, I believe that situation fell under the latter type. What I CAN do in those moments, is use the scenario to illustrate a more positive way to handle similar situations.

      Thanks, Stacey!


    1. Great analogy, Cecilia. I find playing up these two factors makes a tremendous difference in how most children respond to boundaries, as well as trusting the adults in their lives with needs, concerns, etc. Thank you!


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