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

Why Are You So Dumb?! (Part 2)

Welcome back. As always, thank you for your time and support!

Congrats to Older Son and his girl--Class of 2015 high school graduates! 
Congrats to Older Son and his girl–Class of 2015 high school graduates!

Last time, we ended on how children might learn from shaming and belittling them (in public or otherwise–catch up with Part One here.).

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

What shaming and belittling do, IMHO, is:

• hurt a child’s sense of self-worth. Self-esteem drops. The child is put in a position to question his/her capability and/or intelligence.

• plant seeds of resentment (toward the parent and/or other authority figures, present and/or future):  If treating him/her like that is the norm, what are the chances those seeds won’t wind up taking root and flourishing under a consistent diet of negativity and being put down?

• lay the groundwork for negative patterns: What are the chances that child will grow up to shame his/her children?

Reacting to what kids do is easy. Our impulses take over, our brains go on break and we want to say or do whatever responses—verbal and/or physical—the child’s action evokes.

Responding, on the other hand, takes practice. That means making a conscious effort to do any—and probably ALL of the following:


  • Take a step back.
  • Think about NOT saying or doing that reflex action, and…
  • Carefully choose our verbal and/or physical answers to our kids.

Responding is a SKILL that can be cultivated. It takes awareness of one’s tendency to react, a conscious desire to change that tendency to react and practice.

Empathy (i.e., identifying with how someone else feels) can be key to responding vs. reacting. Putting ourselves on the receiving end of our actions, (i.e., imagining our kids’ feelings and possible reactions to what we say and do), can go a long way to helping us be more positive in our responses.

Finally: It’s easy to assume kids understand the direction(s) we give. (Asking them to repeat the direction is a great way to be sure.)

Here is how I might have handled the boy at the supermarket:

Assuming he was of average or better intelligence, restating what I wanted him to do—in simple, concrete words and a calm voice—would have sufficed. “Henry, I asked you to stand in line until I got back.”

With specific words—and a normal voice—I also would have shown the “consequence” of not having followed the direction. “Now we’ll have to wait at the end of the line.”

Henry probably would have understood his error—that he hadn’t fully comprehended his parent’s directive—and the natural consequence of his action (or lack of it).

One more thing to consider: Henry wouldn’t have been publicly shamed. Chances are, he will most likely remember to stand in line next time and won’t resent the person admonishing him.

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.
―William James 
(Psst! Waiting in line isn’t a catastrophe. It’s an inconvenience. Just MHO.  😉  )

Another thought: “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29

So how might you have handled “Henry’s” situation? Have you found yourself in a similar one with your child, or someone else’s child? Do you throw in your two cents if you’re within earshot of someone dealing with a child in a negative manner? All comments and thoughts are welcome! (And if you’re shy, you can always email me via my CONTACT page.)

I’ll dedicate a future post or two to specific examples of how  a parent or authority figure can respond vs. react, i.e., deal with a child in a more positive way.

Have a great day, everyone!


© Joanne C Timpano, content and images. All rights reserved.

14 thoughts on “Why Are You So Dumb?! (Part 2)

    1. My son’s cap had a camouflage-thing going on–made him easy to pick out from the top of the gym’s bleachers, lol. The cap pictured is his girlfriend’s–she came up with her own design. She spent almost as much for those beads as she did for her cap and gown. Ah…youth….

      Liked by 1 person

  1. React vs respond–yes, that’s exactly it. And I like what you said about resentment. I think public humiliation will almost always result in that. Kids–like adults–can have long memories. Why torment them with one that will make them feel bad for years?


    1. Thanks, Carrie. Unfortunately, those folks who will shame in public might not care or consider the consequence. Or, that person is “in the moment,” and the limbic system took over.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ve done the same, on many an occasion, I’m sure. When my kids were smaller, I’d give myself the same consequence they’d get for a similar offense. That was often some type of writing, i.e., why what I did was wrong, how I would handle it differently in the future, etc.

          I believe apologizing to kids is VERY important. Shows them parents are not perfect, and that it’s okay to admit one’s error.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Heck, even as an adult I would be hurt by public humiliation. Multiply that by 10 for a child.
    I have lots more patience with my grandchildren than I had with my daughter. I believe I’ve mellowed or maybe learned to think before I speak. 😀 ❤


    1. I feel the same way, Tess. I do much better with my kids now, and definitely far better than with the students I had before becoming a parent (esp. once Younger Son came along and humbled me completely). Even though, there are occasional hiccups–one which I had last night, lol. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Parenting has always been quite the gig, and today’s “conveniences” don’t necessarily make it much easier. Many or most parents work F/T jobs, and are often expected to be “connected” for work purposes outside of designated work hours. Add that EACH child, IMHO, is a 24/7 job on top of that. Let’s not forget keeping a home, laundry, meal prep, food shopping…

          Talk about a recipe for stress.

          And then a parent has to learn how to be an effective, hopefully positive parent in all that–it’s not like we’re born knowing this stuff…

          Great point, Tess. Thank you!


    1. The world tells us to “let it roll off,” but that is far easier said than done. Practicing positive thoughts and affirmations helps. It does, however, take conscious effort to counteract the negativity that old stuff seems to automatically bring up. All the best and many thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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