It seems parents just can’t catch a break these days.
A mother of three in the U.K. has received criticism for punishing her daughters by making them sit on the floor of a supermarket.
Louise Palai was at a local Tesco, a popular U.K. supermarket chain, buying some groceries with her daughters, Alisa, 6, and Ebony, 7, when the girls became overly rambunctious.
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Palai said her daughters were in “high spirits” and running around the supermarket. She asked them to calm down more than once, but to no avail.
“Ebony almost got hit by a woman’s shopping trolley. I didn’t lose my temper but I couldn’t have them behaving like that in public,” she said to I News.
That’s when Palai went into disciplinarian mode. The 35-year-old mom quietly pulled her daughters aside, led them to a quiet area in the produce section of the supermarket, and instructed them to sit down on the floor with their backs to the aisle.
“They looked at each other but they didn’t argue. They sat cross-legged facing the shelves with their heads down.”
Palai had the girls sit there quietly for roughly 10 minutes, during which time she snapped a photo of them as a reminder of what happens when they act out. She then sent the photo and an explanation to her friend who posted it to Facebook where it quickly went viral.
While she said she received “hundreds” of positive comments, some chastised her for seemingly embarrassing her daughters.
“Humiliating your children like this is just wrong,” wrote one user. “Treating your kids like prisoners in Guantanamo Bay is not good parents, it’s immoral.”
“No!! Humiliation is not good parenting, ever. It shows a complete lack of empathy and compassion,” another said.
Palai admits that she received some strange looks from fellow shoppers, but the single mom said that she didn’t care and stood by her decision to punish her daughters with a public time out.
“This method works and it is a much better alternative to shouting at the girls in the middle of the street or smacking them like I have seen other parents do,” she said to the Mirror Online.
Dr. Natasha Sharma, a parenting and relationship expert and author of The Kindness Journal, believes that Palai actually achieved the opposite of what detractors are accusing her of.
“She tried to minimize the shame and humiliation for her children,” she told Global News.
“To think that we can discipline our children and teach them how to behave with compassion and firmness but completely devoid of a bit of humiliation is not realistic. To be a child and to learn is in some ways a lesson in humility. That’s not a bad word.”
What is a bad word, in her opinion, is shaming. Sharma says if Palai was shaming her children, she would have plopped them in the middle of the aisle and made a show of telling them that everyone was staring at them because they had been bad.
However, Sharma says that taking a picture of the children to use as a reminder for later isn’t necessarily the best tactic.
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“Discipline is best served up quickly, firmly and in the moment. Then you need to move on from it and don’t bring it up again,” she said
Furthermore, she advises parents to keep these matters private and to refrain from posting them to social media, because they will almost always invite mixed opinions.
In the end, however, Palai says her daughters learned a valuable lesson that worked to calm them down.
“After time-out finished, I spoke to both of them about why they had been in time-out, gave them a hug and kiss, they said sorry, and we carried on shopping.”