Normal life looks a lot different these days, especially in healthcare. But there is one thing that hasn’t changed at Children’s Colorado: Your child’s health and safety are our highest priority. Kids need great pediatric care as much now as ever, and it’s for that reason that we’re reactivating services we temporarily suspended due to the pandemic. We are here to deliver safe, thoughtful, high-quality care for kids who need it. Learn what to expect – and all the ways we’re keeping patients safe.
If you're concerned that you or your child may have been exposed to COVID-19, please do NOT visit an emergency or urgent care location. Instead, call your doctor or our free ParentSmart Healthline at 720-777-0123 for guidance.
In life-threatening emergencies, find the emergency room location nearest you. For non-life-threatening medical needs when your pediatrician is unavailable, visit one of our urgent care locations.
In the photo, the teen stands roadside with a cardboard sign: “I Cut Class and Now I’m Suspended.” Or “I Stole, and This Is My Punishment.” It’s an example of a new kind of public shaming, and chances are, you’ve seen it or something like it floating around the Internet.
Increasingly, some parents are using social media to put their teens’ bad behavior on display in hopes of correcting it. According to child development expert Marlena Romero, LCSW, however, public shaming, whether online or in the real world, is far more likely to do more harm than good.
“It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy,” says Romero, a senior behavior health clinician at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “A teen thinks, ‘if my parents think I’m this low, this lazy, this bad, then maybe I am, and I’ll show them how bad I can be.’”
Public shaming is destructive to adolescent identity
For parents, the idea is to change the behavior; if the teen feels bad enough about it, the reasoning goes, then maybe he’ll never do it again. The problem is that the teen won’t just feel bad about the action — he’ll feel bad about himself. “Adolescence is an especially vulnerable time,” Romero says, “so shaming can be destructive to who they are as their identity forms.”
And it’s not limited to the digital sphere. Romero points out that public shaming can also be yelling at kids in a crowded grocery store, labeling them with negative qualities (“you’re so lazy!”) or bad-mouthing them in front of others.
“Shaming doesn’t teach them what to do, it just punishes them for doing it,“ Romero says. “Over time you’re going to see a long-term buildup of resentment.”
Positive reinforcement, love and praise work best
A better approach, Romero says, is positive reinforcement: rewarding the good, rather than calling attention to the bad – which is not, Romero cautions, to give kids free rein. Positive reinforcement works best in conjunction with clear, unwavering limits that evolve as kids grow and behaviors change, along with an open, ongoing discussion about those limits with kids. “Guidance shows them what’s right,” she says.
Of course, Romero acknowledges, that ideal scenario is sometimes easier said than done. “I get home and I’m exhausted,” she admits, “and sometimes my first instinct is to just say whatever comes out.”
In these situations, it’s okay to take a step back, tell your teen you need a few minutes to think, and leave the situation to calm down, Romero says. Seek guidance. Professionals can help, but it can help just as much to talk to a spouse, a fellow parent, or a friend. In everyday practice, try replacing negative-seeking behaviors with positive-seeking ones. “Instead of using social media to shame, do the opposite,” Romero recommends. “Use it to praise your kids. They want to be bragged about, talked about. They want you to be proud of them.
“As much as possible,” she continues, “reward them, love them. A lot of times, those positive behaviors will quash the negative ones. Imagine if you got money for driving the speed limit, instead of just getting fined for not doing it. Imagine how many more people would drive the speed limit.”
Patient ratings and reviews are not available
Children's Hospital Colorado partners with NRC Health to gather star ratings and reviews from patients, residents and family survey data.
This provider either practices in a department or specialty that we currently do not survey, or does not have at least 20 ratings in the last 12 months. Learn more about patient ratings and reviews.
Children's Hospital Colorado providers
Children’s Hospital Colorado providers are faculty members of the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Our specialists are nationally ranked and globally recognized for delivering the best possible care in pediatrics.
Some healthcare professionals listed on our website have medical privileges to practice at Children’s Hospital Colorado, but they are community providers. They schedule and bill separately for their services, and are not employees of the Hospital.