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Mom sends daughter to school in ugly clothes as consequence for bullying

May 21, 2013 By Abraham

Recently, a mother in Murray, Utah got an email from her stepdaughter’s 4th-grade teacher that her child had been harassing another student for the last three weeks, making fun of that other student’s clothes. It had gotten to the point that the kid who she’d been bullying didn’t want to come to school anymore.

As soon as she heard about it, the mother spoke to her daughter but saw no remorse, so she decided to get more creative.

She took a trip to the thrift store and bought a few cheap clothes that she knew her daughter would hate. When the girl woke up the next morning a terrible outfit and old sneakers were laid out for her to wear…

Ugly Clothes as Punishment - 02

She wore the embarrassing ensembles for two days.

Of course, the child psychologist who was contacted for this story frowned on the mother’s approach, saying that it would lead to anger not empathy. But after the embarrassing two days, the daughter reported that she had heard kids talking about her behind her back and that she wasn’t going to make fun of other kids anymore, “because it’s stupid and it’s mean. It hurts them.”

(Read more at Fox News 13)


  1. Hayley says:

    Brilliant. There are so many “experts” out there that would have parents stop disciplining their children at all because it COULD cause emotional problems in the future. Well, the girl that was being bullied is PROMISED to have emotional problems because of the actions of this other girl. I say good job Mom. Sometimes children need to be on the other end to understand what they are doing.

  2. Michele says:

    I found it very unlikely that the child learned empathy through humiliation. I’m not a psychologist or anything, but it seems to me this child needed to belong to the group, to the point of excluding and hurting others. (Seems like playground stuff, but it’s done in the adult world all the time.) If I were the parent of this child, then I would look to myself. Am I setting an example for kindness and empathy? Am I helping my child feel safe and secure, so she can find the courage to stand against the group? I commend the teacher for speaking up; I think too often they look the other way.

    1. Jeff says:

      Are you sure you’re not a psychologist? Cause that gibberish you just spouted sounded a lot like the crap I’d expect an “expert” to say.

      1. zlowrie says:

        i was eating chocolate cereal when i read your comment and almost spit it out all over the computer in laughter.

    2. Pamela says:

      If you need to belong to the group to the point of excluding and hurting others, then you need a lesson in how exclusion and hurt feel. Your priorities are skewed due to lack of empathy. The best teacher of empathy is experience.

    3. Nicole says:

      Really? The mom put her daughter in thrift store clothes and sent her to school. Not in pajamas. Not in her underwear. Not without food. Not with a label strapped to her back. I sure feel bad for those moms who are poor and need to shop *only* at thrift stores! Their kids are messed up for life…we should call Social Services!

    4. Nichole says:

      1st question, do you have children ?? This is the problem with the world today. We have moved away from discipline and have started coddling. I don’t see anywhere in this article that is said she was doing this with a group of other children. She was doing this on her own. Also, even if she was doing this with other children, who cares. She was being a bully!! I’m so tired of hearing all this psychological babble about ohhh that little girl is a bully because she is just so sad. Well yeah, it doesn’t take a doctorate’s degree to understand that but not disciplining this child for her behavior is just feeding into the problem with society. Kids and even adults today have this conception of “well I have such and such emotional problems, I cant help the way I act”. Get a grip, get the child help but give her a taste of her own medicine. Good on the step mom. I would have done the exact same thing but it would have been for a week.

  3. Paula says:

    She did not need to belong to the BULLY group! I guess she learned empathy when it happened to her and she realized it. Two days was plenty. I knew a jackass who dressed his stepkids in “the clothes of shame” (what he called them)for weeks for bad grades. They had to wear their mother’s baggy sweatshirts and sweatpants (at least 3 sizes too big) and those horrid slip-on sneakers with no laces. That was way too much. There are better ways of improving grades.

    1. Barb says:

      Terrible idea if used to attemt to improve grades or punish for bad ones. GREAT idea if used to show what it’s like to be on the receiving end of comments about clothes. This might not have worked for some kids while others would be surprised to find out what it feels like.

      1. Barb says:

        grrr stoopid “p” key that only works sometimes! “Attempt” is what I attempted to write!

    1. stephanie says:

      The left one is particularly cool. Add some stiletto sandals and a funky bracelet or six and I’d be off to the neighborhood trattoria. (My 20-something daughter grew up with my thrift shop, yard sale, and flea market treasures — now she finds her own).

  4. Sky says:

    Perfect. You gotta be crazy to think that kids like that feel they should “~belong to a group~”, that’s a real interesting and deep way of looking at it but from personal knowledge these kids are already in a “group”, it’s a group that thinks they can use their strength, abilities and privilege on others to objectify and abuse when they don’t realize the damage they are doing. Kids don’t think about the social or psychological repercussions of their actions, they just do it. And they feel right for it, for showing dominance and, I believe they don’t understand what it feels like to be dominated, hurt and humiliated. This looks like a very effective means of getting that point across.

    To me, there’s two types of bullies, the ones that get hurt at home and take it out on others, and the ones that receive no discipline at home and feel they can do whatever they want. This punishment would not help the former, it will on the other hand do at least some good for the latter.

    There are many stems of bullying, realization of the consequences of their actions is a sharp knife to the right bud. For any age group. Kids like this need a little trauma to push down that over-confidence a little.

    1. Stephanie M says:

      I was just thinking how wonderful it is that she had a stepmother that loved her enough to do this. And as a “natural mother” – which I think is a crap term – yes, I would have taken these very measures myself. A “natural mother” means loving your child more than anything, even enough to teach hard things.

    2. Dawn says:

      Are you kidding me!?!?! I’m BOTH, a mother and a step-mother and guess what Irena I totally would do this to my biological children as well as my step-children. I have the same rules, rewards and consequences for all 5 of them. DNA has NO effect on treatment in our house. Irena, just so you know I read your comment to my husband and he says “I’d do it with any of my biological children, sometimes creative parenting is called for to help teach empathy”

      To the mother that actually did this:
      Good for you momma!!!

    3. Melissa says:

      I am a natural mother of two daughters. I would absolutely use this technique if the situation called for it. Sometimes kids just need to know how it feels to be teased, and that’s all it takes for them to turn it around. This was not bullying; it was smart parenting. What would you have the mother do — talk to her daughter? Ground her? Make her apologize? Take away privileges? Spank her? None of those is going to stop teasing or get the child to a place where s/he can empathize with the children she was teasing. Now she knows first-hand what it feels like, and she is much less likely to participate in that behavior again. If she does, it will mean there’s something more going on than the need to fit in, or general ignorance of how her actions affect others, at which point the mother will have to reevaluate and figure out what else is going on.

    4. Amber says:

      Biological mother to two, step-mother to one. REAL MOTHER to all three. I would, (and might should it ever be an issue) do this to my children. I was often bullied for the clothes I thought were cute, and the bullying only stopped when I changed what I wore. If the bullies that were harrassing me had been made to see how I felt, maybe they wouldn’t have been so harsh. The mother tried doing it a more traditional way, by talking to her about it first. The girl obviously didn’t have a problem with the way she treated others. I hope that it worked. I would like to know the outcome.

    5. Anita Payton says:

      Yes I would. And my mother would have, and I firmly believe plenty of the mothers (And the fathers..) commenting positively on this are ‘natural’.
      That’s a fairly disappointing viewpoint you seem to have.

    6. Theresa says:

      LOL I commend this mother for what she did. Clothing choices are just that choices. If clothing choices were damaging to kids millions of american child are damaged on a daily basis. Irena you have no clue on motherhood if you think this is a Biomom vs stepmom issue. To many times parent do not punish their children for bullying others. I say good for this family for standing up to the wrongs of their own child.

    7. Daniel says:

      Most biological parents are blind when it comes to the character flaws they have allowed their children to develop. If your kid is a rancid hateful little brat, you may be less likely to confront the issue as it would mean first admitting a parenting failure on your part. A step parent is sometimes able to be more objective in these types of matters. Kudos to the step parent in this matter. I hope the young girl did learn her lesson about being a bully.

  5. Jo says:

    I think dressing her like that was a great idea. It gave her a chance to see what it was like on the other side. The girl decided she didn’t like it and it helped he realize bullying was wrong and hurtful.

  6. Sortof says:

    Every lesson your kid should learn to normally function in a society the society WILL teach in a harsher way than a parent would. This may sound like harsh parenting, but believe me, she did her daughter a pleasure!

    1. warrenwr says:

      And Ellensburg, Washington! Seriously brilliant parenting, Mom, daughter probably went through two days of tantrum but it ended up with Mom firmly emplaced as Alpha Female, a better-behaved offspring, and I’ll bet she even (of her own volition) apologized and made up with her former victim.

  7. Irena M says:

    To all these wonderful parents,
    No, I would never do it to my daughter. Humiliating her in front of entire class is not in my books on parenting. As you know two wrongs don’t make a right…have a nice day…

    1. Meri Bechtel says:

      Perhaps your reliance on “books on parenting” is your downfall. If a person does not see the reality of his or her torment from the eyes of those tormented, the pain will never cease.

      Or, in simpler terms: “Experience is the teacher of all things.” – Julius Ceasar (c. 52 B.C.E.)

      1. Irena M says:

        Be careful,lady with what you are saying. Suddenly, you found yourself in the same box with that poor orphan and her wicked stepmother…

        1. S.Stern says:

          she is only wicked for letting her own daughter get that out of hand. Good for her for stepping up and becoming a parent.

  8. SCarlson says:

    As someone who has worked with children for many years I think this mother did the right thing in this circumstance. Bullying has become a huge problem, even with kids as young as 4 and 5. Bullies are already “part of the group” and while many of them do have self-esteem problems, I have also met bullies who just have very little empathy for anyone else. Sometimes it has nothing to do with their parents or the way they are being raised, it’s just a personality thing. The fastest way to learn empathy is to experience what someone else is going through yourself. Two days of wearing ridiculous clothes is not going to destroy this girl’s life but severe bullying that goes on for months and months can and does ruin children’s lives.

  9. DA Hunt says:

    I applaud this mother! When I have to make that awkward call to a parent to tell them that their child has been bullying, I often hear, “Not my child! Well, what did the other kid do?” At least she took responsibility for her role as a PARENT and teach…that’s what discipline means. It sounds like the girl truly did learn what empathy means, because she literally stepped into the shoes of someone who is made fun of…and now she knows exactly what it feels like. That’s what a lot of kids are lacking because their parents seem to think its wise to make excuses for failure and bad behavior.

  10. Kids Fashion says:

    A pat on the back for mom. Her daughter probably got a little of what she dished out.I think she should have to right notes to those she bullied saying what she is wrong not and not I am sorry notes. When you state I was wrong for the exact thing you do it hits home more.

  11. etsuko says:

    Humiliation is no state in which to learn. There is a huge difference between catering to kids’ every whim because it’s easy, on the one hand, and showing great love and modeling kindness even when it’s difficult, on the other. Show a child how to act meanly and they’ll act meanly. I observe time and again truly brave and kind parents with truly brave and kind children. Mean only works in the short term.

  12. PhilA says:

    I think someone should dress the psychologist in the same clothes so they learn what real parenting is about :-P

  13. Amie says:

    Irena should not have children. She obviously knows nothing about parenting. She is more worried about how her children feel then how they can function in society. Your children will most likely grow up as adults who throw hissy fits with their bosses and co-workers ’cause life isn’t fair.
    Good job Mom in Utah. More parents need to parent their children and stop worrying about hurting their feelings. Life’s lessons are sometimes hard to learn; and sometimes they hurt your feelings.

  14. Word Smyth says:

    I grew up wearing second-hand (thrift store/yard sale) clothes all my life and had to endure much bullying/teasing/getting the crap beat out of me (often on a daily basis)… i wish some of those kids had parents like this one… they could have felt the same pain they inflicted on others (in particular, me) and maybe would have learned what kindness and compassion is about. I applaud this mother for her unique handling of this situation. The child actually KNOWS what it feels like and will be much less likely to inflict shame and ridicule on another child.

  15. Kay A. Ess says:

    All this mom did was force her stepdaughter to walk a mile in another’s Maryjanes. I’m betting the bullied child had no choice about what she had to wear to school. The bully had a choice whether to be kind and chose not to. Hell, even benign neglect would have been better.

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