Shaming Kids is Hurtful, Not Helpful

Sometimes parents or teachers turn to shaming kids in order to try to get them to improve their behavior. They may say things like:
  • Shame on you!
  • You should know better than that.
  • What were you thinking? 
  • Everyone else is doing what they are supposed to be doing, why can’t you?
  • You’re a bad boy!
Shaming kids makes them feel bad about themselves. Shame researcher BrenĂ© Brown defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging”.

The biggest problem with using shame as a way to try to change kids’ behavior is that it destroys the part of them that believes they are capable of changing. A much better approach is to describe the child’s behavior and then guide the child to fixing the problems caused by this behavior. For example, “You’ve left candy wrappers on the couch.” or “You hit him and now he is crying.” Focusing on your children’s behavior instead of your children’s character, will help them make better choices in the future.

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