Parent's Punishment for Kid After Christmas Earns Mixed Reactions

Rachel Bertsche
·Writer
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Photo courtesy of Reddit

In the lead-up to Christmas, plenty of kids are warned: misbehave, and Santa won’t be stopping by. But few parents have the kind of follow through that was highlighted on Reddit over the weekend. On December 26, Redditor bdy2013 posted a photo of a receipt for a Wiii U Console with Super Mario 3D World Bundle Pack– which includes a Wii U console and two video games – with the store’s note:  “Initial Problem Description from POS [Point of Sale]: Son Was Put on Naughty List, Had to Watch It Being Returned.” 

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The receipt, which was posted under the heading “Parenting done right” on Reddit, received nearly 400 comments  many of them mixed reactions. Some posters, like StarryMari, applaud the parent. “Good for those parents,” she writes. “Sometimes, you have to do stuff like this to send a message.” But others think the punishment was too harsh. Redditor Shinjuki writes: “There’s negative reinforcement and there’s humiliating your kid. This isn’t good parenting.”

Amy Morin, psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, says that returning the console – which retails for $300 – might have been extreme. “We don’t know the whole story, of course. Did the kid act up one time and do something really bad? Or was it weeks or months on end and the parents were pulling their hair out? Still, kids need rewards to work toward, so simply taking away his video game and allowing him to earn it back instead of returning it entirely might have been a better option,” Morin tells Yahoo Parenting. “That would be a way to encourage a fresh start rather than saying ‘here you could have had this and now you don’t get it at all.’”

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But what if the parents had warned their son that this could happen? “Empty threats are never helpful,” Morin says. “But all parents have said things that are too extreme – like, ‘you’re never leaving the house until you’re 18’ – that went overboard. It’s important to say, ‘I overreacted. I was mad.’ And, in this case, ‘I’m not going to take the video games away forever, but you need to earn it back – and continue to earn it every day.’”

This isn’t the first case of public shaming posted on social media. More extreme examples include a father a who posted a picture of his daughter forced to wear pink barrettes, a Sophia the First backpack, and a shirt that said “I’m 10 Years Old” when he caught her secretly dating a boy and posting on social media. Another mom, after getting frustrated that her daughter refused to brush her hair, shaved her daughter’s head and posted the photo on Facebook. “Public shaming in general isn’t a good tactic,” Morin says. “When you do things to shame kids it damages their self-esteem, and the worst they feel about themselves, the more likely they are to misbehave. Kids who think ‘I can’t do anything right,’ tend to live up to that expectation.”

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Still, in this case, Morin says at least the humiliation wasn’t especially public. The son’s name or face wasn’t posted online, and the image seems to be posted by a cashier at the store rather than a parent.

In the Reddit comment thread, plenty of users posted their own stories of Christmas gifts returned for misbehavior, so one thing is pretty clear: Whether or not he gets to play with it, the son will likely remember this gift forever.

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