Did you see the Facebook post of the parent who took a picture of her son with his Playstation and a Captain America figure, and the sign he held up that said something like, “I had to return the Playstation I was going to get for Christmas because I didn’t show enough gratitude for the Captain America figure I got.”
Really? This is what you came up with to teach your son about gratitude? Using social media as a weapon, a source of humiliation and embarrassment?
I think there’s a growing trend of extremism in all aspects of society, and I think parenting has not escaped this trend. Listen, I am not a pushover teacher. I have many students who are not used to hearing the word, “no”, but I will say it as many times as it takes to be understood. But in teaching and parenting, one must realize that we are dealing with children, who by very definition are still learning how to be human beings, which means they will make mistakes. And when they make those mistakes, humiliating them in front of millions of people (or even your closest 200 friends) might not be the best approach, nor will it be very effective in teaching the lesson you would like them to learn. The “lesson” or consequence should be immediate, should fit the action or behavior, and should directly relate to what you’d like them to learn.
If my son didn’t show the appropriate amount of gratitude, I would first ask myself, “Did I explain to him what my expectations were about showing gratitude when receiving a gift?” If I didn’t, then we go back and review those – you can’t blame a kid who doesn’t know the parameters. If I did make my expectations clear, I would remind him of my expectations, ask him to think about the amount of gratitude he showed when receiving the gift, and then ask him what he thinks we should do to fix the situation. We might verbally apologize, send a hand-written thank-you note to the gift-giver, or even plan a volunteer experience with people who are less fortunate so we might learn a little bit about giving and receiving, wanting and needing, and all of the emotions involved (and how they are communicated).
You don’t get respect unless you give it. Our children, who are still learning, and who will make mistakes, deserve our respect, not our ridicule.