Using Fear is Not Funny

Using Fear is Not Funny

Posted 2014-11-24 by Colleen P Moynefollow
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici

I once met a couple who told me an appalling story about a joke they played on their children.

The kids were outside playing, I think they were about eight and ten at the time and the parents were in the kitchen. They started mucking around and one squeezed a sauce bottle at the other. This was all in good fun and even kind of cute for a couple that had been married for so long. They started wrestling over the sauce bottle and ended up both being sprayed.

That’s when they came up with the ridiculous idea to play a practical joke on the kids. They squirted more sauce on themselves and on the floor. The husband took a knife from the drawer and they both lay in the puddle of sauce and screamed. When they heard the children running in, they played dead. Of course we know what happened next. The children saw the scene and thought the worst. I can only imagine the trauma that they suffered at the sight of their parents, supposedly lying in a pool of blood.

Image courtesy of chelle

I lost touch with the couple very soon after this incident (for good reason) and never did find out just what effect their little joke had on their children. I can still remember them laughing when they told us about it and how priceless the looks on the kids’ faces were. I cannot fathom how parents can do such a cruel thing to their children and think it’s funny.

It may seem harmless to play practical jokes on children, but if it means worrying, upsetting or frightening them, then it stops being funny. Jokes need to be age-appropriate and kid-friendly.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici

The same applies to discipline and threats of punishment. I have heard parents warn that they will get a policeman to lock the child up, or even that they would give the child away. I saw a father chase his child with a lawn-mower while the child ran screaming. I even saw a mother threaten to drop her two-year old from the top of a playground climbing frame.

Regardless of the child’s behaviour, no parent should frighten or threaten violence to their child. Discipline should be loving and fair – deliberately designed to help the child learn from it - not a form of physical or emotional abuse.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici


236674 - 2023-07-18 00:44:22


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