Shaming children, especially in a public forum is something that needs to end.  Two things have happened this week that have prompted me to go on a little bit of a rampage.

A History of Social Media Shaming

There was a viral  “Motherhood Challenge” on social media.  For those of you who don’t know, this one was where a friend tags to you post 3-5 pictures of what makes you proud to be a mother. Shame on you if you were not challenged, you must be a terrible mother. Shame on you if you didn’t post, you must not love your children.

Then, I got an email from a parent reporting that her child had a total meltdown after being publicly shamed in school for negative behaviors. He is yet another victim of the “Clip Behavior Management System.” For those of you who don’t know what this is…essentially, many teachers have some version of this (it might be traffic signs, bumblebees, punch cards, or any other equally demeaning visual). The concept is that a child’s conduct of the day is rated on a chart that goes from E (Excellent) to G (Good) to S (Satisfactory) to N (Not Good) to U (Unsatisfactory). It is meant to help motivate children to comply with classroom rules and teach self-regulation. It also helps teachers communicate with parents about behavior for the day.

The problem with these clip management systems is that they are usually either on a classroom board for everyone to see or on the child’s desk where most everyone can see. The moving of the clip might be done by the teacher or the student but is usually done while all of the other students are watching. Behavior analysts might say this encourages poor behaving children to follow the lead of others well behaving children. I consider it PUBLIC SHAMING. In my private practice, I have found that children frequently have meltdowns when they are told to “MOVE THEIR CLIP” because they also know that getting a negative letter will likely lead to punishment at home (no electronics, typically). In fact, I have frequently recommended that negative behavior at school be addressed at home with similar consequences. I don’t take issue with conduct reports. However, I do take issue with having children on blast in front of their peers on a daily basis.

Overcoming SHAME

Thus, THE CLIP CHALLENGE! The Clip Challenge is a way for ADULTS to experience what it is like to be judged on a daily basis for your behavior and shamed for doing things are in general, developmentally appropriate. Here are the rules,

  1. You start each day on E.
  2. You move your clip down one letter (E –G-S-n-U) for every “off task behavior.”
  3. You publicly report your final conduct grade on your social media page and/or mine at under the Clip Challenge thread.
  4. Off Task Behaviors:
    1. Being Late (for work, from lunch breaks…for any reason)
    2. Excessive Talking (to co-workers or on the phone to friends/family during work hours…excessive means ANY).
    3. Not Doing Your Work (Unreturned phone calls, emails, paperwork not filed)
    4. Not Being Prepared (You forgot anything that you need to do your job today)
    5. Doing Something Not Work Related (Checking social media, shopping online)

Are you Ashamed of Yourself?

Teachers might respond and say that is not how the clip management system is used in their class. Maybe not. But I see 100 children a month in my private practice and I would venture to say that over 75% of them have some sort of system like this and these are the comments I read for clip-moving conduct violations. Granted, sometimes it is for stealing, physical aggression or some other discipline worthy event. But generally it is talking, not being in your seat or not doing your work. Stuff I am totally guilty of EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

Shaming Doesn’t Work

A final thought….these systems don’t seem to work. The kids who are well behaved generally get E’s or G’s every day. The children who are the “discipline problems “ generally get N’s or U’s every day. They are not being motivated by the leaders of the class. They are giving up before they even get started because they don’t feel like they will ever be successful. They are not motivated to get a prize out of some Dollar Store treasure box. They don’t even care about losing their electronics anymore. Why? Because this public shaming sends the message “I AM BAD.” People will say, no…we are focusing on behavior. WRONG…the message I hear from children is “I was bad today. I am bad.” Parents ask kids, “Were you good today? vs Did you have a good day?” This subtle difference reinforces negative self-esteem in kids.

So, as a mental health professional and advocate for children. I encourage you to take the CLIP CHALLENGE. I also encourage you to stop asking your children if they were good or bad today and start focusing on the effort involved in making good choices throughout the day.

What do the schools need to do instead? That’s a question that is more difficult to answer . I will share some of those ideas on another day.


Why a white daisy?

Apparently, when people  are asked to draw a flower, the first one that comes to mind for a majority of people is the daisy shape.   This single flower (just the flower part without the stem or any leaves and on a solid black background) was show to study participants after being shown a high-arousal negative image. Examples of high-arousal negative images include awful things like violence, injuries and car crashes.  Two trials were conducted:  in the first subjects were shown a high arousal image and then either a) the flower image b) a mosaic of fragments of the flower image or c) a visual fixation point.  In the second trial, the high arousal image was followed by either a) the flower image, b) a chair (deemed a neutral image) or c) a blue sky with clouds (deemed a positive non-floral image).   Systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings were taken throughout the experiments.  

As expected, mean blood pressure was lower when participants viewed the flower versus the fixation point or the mosaic flower,  but what was unexpected is that the flower image actually reduced mean blood pressure to a level lower than the baseline.  Both the flower image and the blue sky had a similar positive impact in changing mood from negative to positive (with the blue sky having the most overall impact).  However, only the flower (not the sky) caused a reduction in mean blood pressure.  It was determined that viewing a simple flower image could in fact change a negative mood into a more positive one and also decrease blood pressure. 

The power of the single flower image was then studied in regards to salivary cortisol levels.  During this study, the high-arousal images were once again paired with the flower image, the flower fragment mosaic or the fixation point.  Once again, only the flower image was shown to significantly decrease stress during the recovery phase. One final examination looked at fMRI images of the brain during these conditions.  Through this imagery it was discovered that the flower image was effective in decreasing the amygdala-hippocampus activation that occurred after viewing the high arousal images. Researchers speculated that the flower image was a distraction tool that was helped prevent the recall of the stressful images.  

The brief viewing of this single flower image was shown to be effective at reducing negative emotions and created better functioning of both the cardiovascular and endocrine systems! Having such a simple tool available to help reduce stress and regulate unpleasant emotions and is one possible tool for interrupting ruminating thoughts or unpleasant flashbacks.  

About the Author Jen Taylor

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at

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