19 May, 2024
Helping Children Overcome Shame - A Guide for Parents

Introduction

People are sometimes confused between guilt and shame. They are two distinct feelings that need a greater understanding on the part of parents and those who look after children. Children who feel guilty about their actions tend to blame their conduct rather than themselves for what they did wrong. It’s acceptable to suffer guilt. On the other side, shame makes kids feel horrible about their errors and makes them think they are bad people. Despite the fact that experiencing shame is common, if it goes uncontrolled, children who feel shame run the danger of isolating, burying, and repressing aspects of themselves and thinking they are the issue.

Understanding the variations between guilt, humiliation, embarrassment, and shame is essential for parents to comprehend both the immediate and long-term effects of these feelings in their kids.

Here is a little guide to help you understand the distinctions:

I did something wrong, I feel guilty.

Embarrassment: “I’ve been treated unfairly”

I made a simple error, which is embarrassing.

I am a terrible person, I am ashamed.

Personality traits might also affect how you feel about yourself.

Guilt-Prone vs. Shame-Prone Personalities

Shame-prone personalities perceive the sensation as never-ending whereas guilt-prone people perceive shame as passing, leading to a lasting sense of hopelessness. Over time, excessive shame has a favorable relationship with anxiety disorders like:

  • Social anxiety
  • Disorder of post-traumatic stress
  • Agoraphobia
  • Disorder of generalized anxiety
  • certain phobias
  • OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Excessive shame is also linked favorably to bipolar and unipolar depression, self-harm, and mood disorders.

As you can see, shame can be quite damaging since it gets to the core of how children view themselves. Thankfully, there are strategies for parents to lessen the damaging effects of shame:

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1. Discussing and Normalizing Shame

Shame is experienced in two parts: behaving and talking. We are prone to quiet, secrecy, and judgment when we are behaving out of shame. Talking about shame prevents hopelessness. Shame can slow down normal growth and development over time, especially in young children. We are urged to exercise empathy, self-compassion, and vulnerability through talking about shame and telling others about our experiences. When a parent, for instance, is feeling ashamed and fights the need to withdraw and isolate themselves in favor of talking about the experience with a trusted family member, they are being a role model to their child.

Since shame cannot live in the light, it is important to talk about our experiences with feeling ashamed. Shame lessens its hold on us through the talks we have with our social relationships.

Even while repeated cycles of shame can be harmful, the feeling itself is natural. In actuality, experiencing shame provides significant social and evolutionary experiences. Anyone who has the capacity for social interaction will unavoidably face shame. It’s crucial that we continue to be aware of how we react to shame and how we talk about it.

2. Identifying and Building Resilience against Shame

Children soon learn to avoid actions that make them feel embarrassed and excluded. They do this action to shield themselves from the uneasy sensation. Parents may unintentionally foster avoidance in these situations by urging their kids to abstain from certain activities. Inadvertently encouraging a child to stop acting out, for instance, is a parent who tells their child to wear more “gender appropriate clothing” after the child has been mocked at school. Although the goal is to protect the kid, over time, the youngster could come to believe that something is wrong with them. Instead, parents are advised to discover the actions that lead to their kid isolating, talk honestly about the experience, and stop the child from isolating.

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Shame has the potential to cross generations throughout time. Control, perfectionism, blaming, and a limited tolerance for errors are common elements in families that experience shame.

Other signs of shame in someone else include:

  • Feeling unworthy, broken, or inadequate
  • Being a critical critic of oneself
  • Having fits of rage
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  • Children’s resilience may be increased by parents by showing empathy and compassion. Parents can start by assisting kids in recognizing bodily symptoms that are a result of emotion. The youngster might then be assisted by the parents in naming the emotion.

The next recommendation is for parents to openly discuss feelings with their kids. It’s also essential to have continuing conversations with kids about subjects that can be considered embarrassing. Having frank discussions about sex, body image, school, and setbacks is the most effective method to combat shame.

3. Setting Boundaries

Creating limits is essential to ensure children’s wellbeing. Unknown or unexplained emotions might cause children to act in ways that are harmful to themselves or other family members. Strongly articulated limits are required in these circumstances. For instance, some kids are prone to verbal and physical abuse when they feel ashamed. Here, a parent might promise not to humiliate the youngster any more. Parents are urged to express proper limits by telling their children, “We don’t throw things or hit when we’re upset; That is not how we respond in our family.” Parents who respond appropriately to their child’s sense of shame help the youngster not only recognize the emotion but also normalize it and stop potentially harmful actions.

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Parents need to keep in mind that nobody is flawless. To create a setting that reduces the harmful effects of shame, a normal feeling, it is essential to put empathy and acceptance of emotions first.

Conclusion

Contact Child Counsellor for an examination or referral if you find any signs of anxiety or depression  in your child due to shame or if you see that they struggle to form healthy relationships. Children with this illness get better results when they receive early diagnosis and treatment. If you are looking for “Best Psychologist in India you can contact TalktoAngel: an online platform with best and experienced Child therapists. They help to overcome all the symptoms of anxiety due to shame and making child live a fruitful life ahead.

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