'It's abuse': Help, my brother uses a 'bizarre' technique to punish his kids

The woman is worried his behaviour is abusive.
The woman is worried his behaviour is abusive. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Learning the best way to discipline your child can be tricky territory. 

You don't want a punishment to be too severe, but you also want to ensure there's a lesson learned.

One woman is concerned about the 'bizarre' way her brother punishes his children, worried that it's a form of abuse.

Writing into The Slate's advice column, she revealed that her brother uses extreme exercise as a punishment.

"Not like a few jumping jacks," she wrote. "But like 200 push-ups or eight minutes of wall-sits with no breaks."

"The kids will be crying by the time they're done, and often their muscles are too sore to play for a while afterwards," she says.

The concerned aunt thinks it's a form of abuse, but when she tried talking to her brother he insisted it's 'in the normal range of discipline', telling her she doesn't understand as she's childless.

"I have considered contacting child services, but other than this, my brother and his wife are generally good parents," she stressed. "I don't want them to lose custody of their kids. Please help!"

In her considered response, columnist Emily Gould confirmed that it is a form of abuse to make children exercise until they're physically in pain.

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"It's not 'normal discipline' to do anything that causes kids so much physical pain that they cry and have lasting injuries," she writes.

"While I understand that your brother and his wife could seem like 'good parents otherwise', this practice undermines that totally, and makes me wonder what else is going on when you're not around."

Gould also points out that purposely inflicting pain on your children 'isn't compatible with being a good parent' and said the most difficult part of the situation will be determining if his children would be better off without him.

"Rather than try to answer that nearly impossible question all by yourself, do everything you can to let him know that his abuse is unacceptable," she suggested. "If he has family members or friends whose opinion he values, let them know what's happening and get them involved."

Admitting the approach could backfire and he could cut contact with her, Gould recommended reaching out to professionals, although says she thinks there's 'a 50 per cent' chance he could be shamed into acting like a better parent.

 "This will probably make him really mad at you," Gould warned. "But your relationship with him is less important than protecting the kids."