Shame Can Hurt Your Child
If shame has hurt your child, keep reading. Our parenting skills expert, Katherine Gordy Levine, and author of the book, Parents Are People Too, is here to help. First, we’ll check out Katherine’s own story. Second, well look at some shameful words you may have experienced as a child. Then we’ll share what you can do to lessen the resulting feelings in yourself and in your child.
Katherine’s Story of Shame:
Today’s author was six-years-old when she was in a near car accident with her family. She heard her brother yell out, “We’re going to crash!” Katherine sprawled out in a relaxed position because she had heard this was the best thing to do. When the car stopped, her family saw her and laughed. One brother shamed her by calling her “Stupid.” She never forgot.
The point is, Katherine carried that shaming event throughout a large portion of her life. It even influenced her explosion at her son’s teacher when the teacher implied he was “stupid.”
Your Past Shameful Events
Perhaps you have stories from your childhood that are still powerfully raw. Naming calling words may still affect you like:
- You’re ugly.
- You’re a dummy.
- You’re such a turkey.
- You knucklehead!
- Why are you such an Idiot?
Remembering those names can bring back sense memories. Like Katherine, you might find yourself reacting in anger. If you take your hurt feelings back through your life on the wings of time, you might find the exact situation where they started. You might say, “Aha, that’s where they came from.” If you understand the old situation better, you might release the feelings and feel better.
How to Change Shaming Beliefs in Yourself to Help Your Child
Hurtful thoughts must be challenged. As you practice helping yourself, teach your son or daughter to do the same.
Say to your son, “You’re looking a little sad, today. What happened?”
Be gentle in your approach. If he tells you his sister yelled, “You stink!” and he believes it, help him debate the truth of it.
- Who said so?
- What makes her the authority?
- Was she mad?
- Why do you think she said it?
- Do you really think you stink?
Perhaps your son will realize she was trying to upset him because he played with her toys without asking.
Tell him that you’re using your brain to overcome your own hurt feelings. Share self-statements you’ve been using and encourage him to say them too:
1. Nothing is awful and terrible.
2. It’s just inconvenient.
3. I can take it.
4. Things don’t have to go my way.
5. Life isn’t fair.
You might even post these statements on the fridge. Every time your son uses one of the sentences to soothe his pain, give him a high five with a true compliment like, “You used your brain and overcame!”
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