Mother teaches daughter a lesson about bullying with a unique punishment

Anti-bullying punishment

When a Utah mother learned her fourth-grade daughter was making fun of a classmate’s low-dollar wardrobe, she came up with a creative way to teach a lesson: She required her daughter to wear outdated thrift store clothes to school.

“If she chooses to be a bully after this, then at some point in her life, she’s going to be on the other side and she’ll know what it really feels like,” said the mother, Ally, during an interview with Fox 13 in Salt Lake City. “And I think now that she knows what it feels like, and she doesn’t want to be that person anymore because she knows how hurtful it is.”

Ally, who is technically the stepmother to 10-year-old Kaylee, said she learned about her daughter’s bullying through the young girls’ teacher.

“She would take her out on the playground and call her names, and tell her she was a slob and tell her she dressed like a sleaze,” said Ally, who withheld her name to prevent further embarrassing Kaylee. “Someone not wanting to go to school anymore based off of something that one other little person said to them. I mean, that’s huge, that’s damaging.”

After a simple chat with Kaylee didn’t seem to make a difference, Ally took desperately visited a local thrift store and picked up the most old-fashioned outfits she could find. The next morning, she informed her daughter that her brand name clothes were getting replaced.

“I died. I did,” said Kaylee. Although she cried after seeing the clothes, she followed Ally’s rules and wore the clothes to school.

Fox 13 spoke with Dr. Douglas Goldsmith about Ally’s unusual parenting decision. He said the punishment may have unintended consequences for Ally and Kaylee.

“What happens with that is the person walks away at the end saying, ‘Now I’m really angry, that was humiliating and now I’m angry,’” Goldsmith said. Instead, he suggested that parents teach their children lessons in empathy by encouraging them to volunteer.

However, Kaylee said she learned from the experience — even though it was embarrassing.

“It’s stupid and it’s mean,” she said of bullying. “It hurts them.”

Do you think Ally’s punishment was cruel and unusual or ingenious? 

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  • Kelly

    Well she learned her lesson didn’t she?

  • Brittany

    I think it’s great parenting.

  • Lola

    I kind of think the daughter might just be saying what the mom wants to hear to get her out of those clothes, and enforced her thinking that people should be embarrassed by tacky clothes. They say she spent $50 on thrift store clothes, perhaps that money could have been spent on a giftcard for new clothes for the girl she bullied so she would feel better? Maybe if she could hear people’s stories who don’t have money for new clothes she could sympathize with them instead of just feeling bad for herself for having a punishment.

    • Kelly

      Buying new clothes for the other girl would only reinforce the idea that appearance is important. It wouldn’t really be teaching her anything.

    • frontdoor mom

      Giving the bullied girl money will like the previous person said, show the girl that shes poor and needs to dress better. Not a good idea. Kudos to the mom for putting her daughter in that girls shoes. We need more parenting like this.

      • So to teach her not to make fun of people’s clothes, she dresses her in dorky clothes so she herself will be made fun of because of her clothes. She is reinforcing that dorky clothes are something to be ashamed of. She is daring other kids to make fun of her daughter to “teach her a lesson”. I totally agree with Lola. This wasn’t the way to handle this situation at all. She should teach her daughter that it doesn’t matter what a person wears instead of that certain clothes are shameful.

        • Jules

          I understand where you’re coming from but I think she was going more for the “clothes don’t change who you are” lesson. By taking her daughters brand name clothes that clearly made her feel superior to the other girl and giving her the thrift store clothing it (hopefully) made the girl realize that no matter what she was wearing she was still the same person. That’s something that can be applied to her treatment of the other girl.

  • Mia

    Empathy is an extremely hard thing to teach a child because of their general selfish nature. Sitting them down and babying them usually doesn’t work for bullies because the children who will feel empathy are the ones who are sensitive. Sensitive kids usually aren’t bullies in the first place. Physical and aggressive kids are much more likely to respond to a more physical or aggressive punishment. They will respond far better if they can sympathize with somebody as opposed to trying to empathize with them.

    • Agreed. Different children respond to different punishments. Going by the method that the doctor suggested would not have worked for her.

  • I seriously just want to hug this mama ! If more parents were like this the suicide rates would be so much lower. I have a 16 month old son, if he EVER dares to bully another child he will face the same, or similar punishment. I will work my butt off for him to have nice things. But ill take it all in a flat ass minute if I ever caught him being cruel to another child.

  • there is NOTHING wrong with this technique! SOMETIMES empathy is only learned after being in another’s shoes. This was brilliant.

  • I think it was great parenting on her part!!

  • jeff

    Anyone else think the mom did something to her kitten?

  • Kir

    Well, might not have been the best pedagogical way, but hey, it worked! I think it’s genious.

  • SheRachet

    That girl is 10 years old and should have learned a long time ago not to tease/bully others. She needed to learn a few lessons; don’t bully, the clothes someone wears is beyond their control, clothes don’t make a person inferior, and appreciate that you have the designer clothes that you do. Hopefully this punishment taught her all of those things.
    This punishment wouldn’t work with every kid and may be potentially to harmful some kids. However, it’s up to the parents, who know their kids better than anybody, to decide which punishments work for their kids.

    The stepmother shouldn’t have advertised to the world their first names or her face. It won’t take the internet long to figure out who they are, where they live, etc. Publicizing your family business is NEVER a good idea. Any scrutiny she gets, she asked for.

    • sammi

      I was hoping ALL faces and names would have been obscured. Even if she didnt give her daughter or friends real names, any adult or child glancing at the news will say “Hey thats Kaylee’s mom” “Theyre talking about Kaylee”

  • Truther

    I was bullied a lot as a child, but it is never ok to humiliate your child or stoop down to a childlike level. Humiliating kids is never a good way to punish a child. There are other things that could have been done.
    Teaching your child empathy for others does not require humiliation, teaching them empathy should begin when they are a lot younger.

    I was bullied relentlessly and horribly in many ways but I have noticed that most bullies come from really crappy home lives, so I figure if parents teach kids right and wrong from the beginning, teach them empathy, and gave them a good upbringing than the chances of them becoming a bully to someone else is lower. She could have made her daughter do something else like spend time with the girl she was teasing or volunteer to help others. Humiliation is never a good way to punish a child, it is mostly for desperate bad parents, like I said most bullies come from crappy homes.

    • Suzanne Henson-Miller

      Exactly!!! kids that were bullies to my kids that I confronted through the proper channels ALL came from bad home lives. That was a “lesson” to me!!!!!!!!!

  • Lana Leigh

    HaHa!!!! Good for that step-mom.

  • Sara

    I think it’s a great idea. I was bullied as a child so I know how hurtful it can be.

  • Parenting win. Also, that red outfit is so terrible I think it’s actually hipster-chic.

    • Lady

      more like parenting failure

  • Sara

    Sounds like something my Dad would have done to me! Great parenting!!

  • I think that it was an excellent method, and it obviously worked. She taught her, literally, what it was like to walk in another’s shoes (or dress, as it were). The girl obviously learned from it, and holds no ill will against her mom. I wish that more parents would be proactive like this if they learn that their child is a bully, instead of brushing it off. Great job, mama!

  • Demona

    Every child is different. Every parent is different. This is something “Drs” don’t always take into account when making a blanket or general statement. Kudos for trying a unique approach! Kudos that it worked for you! Bonus Kudos because now you KNOW what incident caused it when they call you to the hospital because your 40 year old kid is in the fetal position sucking her thumb from some childhood trauma. (Okay, that last bit is the ongoing joke I have with my 13 year old)

  • Suzanne Henson-Miller

    OK, I’m gonna comment on this from a different point of view. First of all ~ no one should have the right to tell a parent how to discipline their child. Second!! This story has drastically changed from the original feed. The mother (who is the fiancee of the child’s father ~ not the mother or stepmother) blurred the girls face in her posts. I am deeply angry that someone has now put a face on this little girl and in my opinion she has now been humiliated to the world via social media. This is beyond a “punishment”. There is too much bullying on the internet as it as and now this child ~ because of what was supposedly intended to be a lesson ~ has become the victim of a viral sensational platform for all of us to voice our opinion. I don’t know where the biological mother or the father stand in their opinion or if they even have an influential role in her life. But if this little girl were my daughter, granddaughter, neighbor, or friend of my own child ~ I would throttle the adult that allowed this picture to be posted and this story to become a viral story. She’s 10 yrs old!!!!!!!!! I think the punishment was an appropriate one and probably would have done the same thing to teach my own 10 year old a lesson but NEVER would it be more than a private personal lesson between my child and I and her friends, but publicizing it is what has taken the focus off the lesson she might have learned and put it into a whole different light. As a stepmother a grandmother entrusted to raise my now 17 year old daughter since infancy ~ I made many mistakes. My granddaughter lives with her Dad now but we share in major decisions concerning our little girl and I always consult her mother as well. If a girlfriend or fiance’ of his humiliated my daughter to the point of blasting it all over facebook, having the story picked up and circulated by all forms of media, and now allowed her face to be posted that woman would be OUT of my baby’s life on a permanent basis. She had NO right. She is looking for a pat on the back and attention and has used this little one to get it. That is not the actions of a “MOTHER”. I would have never punished my stepchildren without consulting with their father as well as their mother whether she lived under my roof or not. Like I originally said, if the punishment were left as a “punishment”, I don’t think it was a bad idea. On the other hand, this whole incident has allowed not a just a small humiliation to teach a lesson ~ it has now become an international humiliation to a young child and I believe the reprecussions to this little girl will be devestating. Her father’s girlfriend has made her an international victim of judgement and humiliation. She hated going to school in that outfit, what is her self esteem today now that she has been plastered all over the media This sickens me!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Suzanne Henson-Miller

    Then y did you even post a comment? Why should anyone give a f**k what you think either??