We can all think of incidents where we’ve seen parents shaming their kids in public or online. Whether it’s complaining about their kids to others in front of them or “calling out” their behaviors on social media platforms, shaming your kids has plenty of negative consequences.
Many parents shame their kids without even realizing they’re doing it.
The following are some examples parents shame their children:
- Revealing embarrassing stories to try and alter a child’s negative behavior or attitude
- Making a private conversation public by sharing it with others or discussing it on social media
- Purposely making a kid feel bad about themselves, instead of helping them understand why their behavior/attitude needs to change.
These techniques may work initially, but in the long-run, they damage a child’s self-esteem and can become a source of severe anxiety that may be carried into adulthood.
The Difference Between “Guilt” and “Shame”
According to Brene Brown, a professor at the University of Houston, shaming a child makes them feel bad about themselves rather than what they did.
Guilt: “If I wasn’t kicking the ball inside the house, I wouldn’t have broken the vase.”
Shame: “I am a bad person because I was kicking the ball inside the house.”
When a child feels guilty, they know that they are being told off for their actions, not for who they are as a person. On the other hand, when a child experiences shame, they begin to feel bad about who they are.
Consequences of Shaming Your Kids
There are several consequences to shaming your kids but these are the most problematic:
The problem with shaming your kids is that with time it damages their sense of self; it makes them uncomfortable in their own skin and causes self-doubt. Constant shame triggers anxiety, which will stay with them during adulthood too unless it’s addressed.
Ruins Your Relationship
Parents who constantly shame their kids weaken the relationships they have with their kids. When kids are young, they look at their parents for support, but when they realize that their parents don’t respect them or are ashamed of them, the trust between them begins to chip away. Over time, kids who are regularly shamed by their parents will distance themselves and may even develop resentment toward them.
If you think you’re child may have emotional troubles due to mistakes you’ve made in the past, consider taking them to a therapist to fix unresolved problems between both of you.
Pearce Counseling in Nassau County, NY, provides counseling services for children who are struggling with anxiety and depression. Jacqueline D. Pearce is a licensed mental health expert that can help your child overcome unresolved issues that may be holding them back.
Contact Pearce Counseling at 516-447-6611 to book an appointment.