A YouTube video that shows a father forcing his son to smash his Xbox after he came home with bad grades has some observers hailing the punishment as “great parenting” — while others call it “horrible.”
The video, which was posted on Wednesday and has received more than 42,000 page views, shows a student named Jason taking a sledgehammer to his Xbox console. The video is titled, “Good Parenting: Father Makes His Son Destroy One of His Xbox Consoles For Failing In School!” and features the voice of the father telling Jason “he’s had three weeks.” Presumably he’s referring to how long Jason had to turn his grades around.
In response, Jason repeatedly says, “It’s not my fault.”
Online, users are in debate about the father’s choice of punishment. Some say his parenting was probably effective. “I love it! I bet he gets good grades now,” says Chad Wollman on Power96’s Facebook page, which posted the video. “I’d do the same thing,” wrote Kristian Heinrick on the Facebook page of 94.5 The Buzz, which also posted the video.
On YouTube, viewers aren’t so kind. “Maybe he should have been monitoring his son along the way with his grades instead of looking at the end result,” wrote Jerry Piscitelli. “I believe in discipline, but I really think the discipline should have started months before this. Sorry Dad, you should have been tuned into the amount of time he was on video games before they affected his grades.”
Dr. Laura Markham, a psychologist and parenting coach, agrees that the father in this video should have gotten involved with his son’s grades earlier. “I think it’s great that this is an involved dad who cares how is son is doing and is willing to set limits,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. “But grades don’t start when you get the report card, and three weeks isn’t enough time to get good grades. Kids get good grades by keeping up with their school work every day and this is too late.”
Forcing the son to destroy a prized possession isn’t likely to get him to refocus on his schoolwork, Markham says. “Making your child suffer so he does what you want later will backfire,” she says. “He’s not going to suddenly start studying if no one is helping him form that habit.”
More problematic than the punishment, Markham says, is the fact that the father filmed the incident. “You don’t film a discipline moment with a child,” she says. “It makes the child think that you are performing for the camera, and recording their pain for the world to see.”
Parents who are considering this form of extreme punishment should think twice, Markham says, and instead focus on giving their kids extra support. “If you talk to an adult about their childhood, some will say, ‘My dad did something like this — he made me give away my dog because I didn’t take care of it,’” Markham says. “People respond in one of two ways: ‘I learned a lesson I never forgot,’ or ‘I hate my dad because I never forgave him.’”
Punishment isn’t the only way to teach a kid a lesson they’ll never forget. “How about, ‘My dad cared so much about my grades that he sat down with me everyday and my grades turned around, and I felt like I could do it because of my dad’s support’?” Markham posits. “That’s what we want a kid to say.”