Emotional Punishment or Emotional Abuse?
Below are some suggested forms of punishment which a popular New Zealand psychologist named Nigel Latta offers parents. It is hard to tell how serious he is, but I am afraid that he is serious and even if he is not, some parents will actually do or have done some of these things. Several of the suicidal and self-harming teens we have worked with have told us that their parents have removed the doors to their room, for example.
Please let me know what you think of these suggestions via our feedback form. Let me know also if your parents did similar things to you and how you felt about it.
Note: I have received an email from Nigel about this page and I have replied to him. It is my hope we will be able to enter a constructive dialogue and share our respective experiences with regard to parenting and society.
These are found on the How to Punish a Teenager Page of his website
Other EQI.org Topics:
If you live in New Zealand and are interested in positive parenting without using punishment, please contact me and I can put you in touch with some individuals who can help you.
|Feedback on these
Here is what one self-harming teen said about these suggestions from our teen support group:
Another called it "Crazy" and said:
|A psychology student in Sweden
|From a UK woman who has
recently completed her degree in Psychology
Hi again Steve,
I had a quick look at Nigel Latta's
web-site, and in context, the suggestions somehow look
slightly less sinister - but I am not sure how he gets
away with giving that sort of advice. He calls himself
'politically incorrect', so he realises he is going
against the tide, but I am not sure he understands why.
(But I didn't really understand the suggestion about
moving piles of things around).
|Our Survey of New Zealand
We are asking some NZ psychologists how supportive they feel of this kind of advice, using the scale of 0-10, with 0 being least supportive.
From Susan Lugton, NZ Psychotherapist and Child Therapist
|From Mary Farrell, NZ Registered
|From Marianna Ackerman, Registered Psychotherapist
|From another Registered
Psychotherapist in New Zealand who preferred not to have
their name published:
Absolutely 0. These are primarily humiliation tactics there is no place for this behaviour in any relationship especially if it is from a person (parent) who is supposed to be leading by example. I felt disturbed even reading that such action might be thought about.
SH - When does emotional punishment become emotional abuse?
Responses from registered psychotherapists in NZ
The above list of some of Nigel's suggested ways to punish a teenager was sent to members of NZAP. They were asked to look at the list and answer this question:
How supportive do you feel, in general, of the following ways to punish a teenager, using the scale of 0-10?
Here are their responses, ordered by when they replied, with Susan's reply being the first to come in.
|1 - Susan
|Is this some sort of sick NZ joke Have we all gone mad!!!!
|2 - Graz
|shaming a teenager - or even punishing - does not give me pleasure, pride or a sense of accomplishment as a parent
|Absolutely 0. These are primarily humiliation tactics...
|4 - Marianna
|Shaming is very damaging to children...
|5 - Mary F.
|It should be called - "Want to get your teenager to hate you? Just follow this advice and when you are old and grey they won't come anywhere near you and you'll be all by yourself in the rest home!"
|6 Rachael F.
|I feel quite disturbed after reading the whole list. My assessment on that 0-10 scale would be 0. None of these strategies are in the least supportive of young people; they are about the wielding of power in ways that humiliate, diminish, mock, negate and destroy.
|0 to all ideas. These are shame-inducing ideas
|Is a 1 for me regarding each of those. I imagine if you are desperate and uninspired or do not have any other modeling or methods you may resort to these things therefore I have given them a 1.
|I think the whole idea of 'punishment' for teenagers is appalling. The challenge for parents of teenagers is to tolerate the challenge of their behaviour and being, whilst setting firm caring limits. Following through with consequences when limits are broken i.e. withdrawing privileges. In my opinion this should not be considered punishment (although maybe experienced as such by the teenager) more learning about the consequences of their actions and behaviour on others. xx need to write him back
|13 Paul B.
|I see all these practices
as abhorrent. I would expect teens treated this way to
either become depressed or to become criminals.
Needless to say this kind of advice is somewhat popular in New Zealand and most professionals would also see it as abhorrent.
|0 all the way xx need to write back
|These 'punishments' seem
somewhat random and humiliating... While some of the
'punishments' may curb unacceptable behaviour they would
not do anything for learning self management skills or
enhancing self esteem.xx ntwb