Unintentionally Shaming Children

There are some overt ways that we can shame our children. You can probably guess what they sound like.

Here are a few phrases that heap on the contempt and shame:

– What the hell were you thinking?
– What’s wrong with you?
– Who do you think you are?
– You are so rude/bad/lazy….
– I wish you were more like him/her

Here are a few ways that shame can still sneak in.

– laughing at our children
– talking about them in front of others like they are not there (especially about sensitive subjects)
– constantly commenting/judging the way they eat/dress/talk
– telling them that they are big and shouldn’t be upset about something
– commenting on their bodies
– using words like disgusting and unacceptable to describe them or what they are doing

Many parents think they have carte blanche to say anything to a child at any time… and many parents do. We can have like a running dialogue of commentary about what we as parents think about what the child is doing and how they are doing it. This generally isn’t a good thing. Many parents would improve their parenting markedly by speaking and commenting less and smiling more.

Inside that running dialogue you will find subtle shame invoking strategies to attempt to shape and steer the child. It’s a good practice to become aware of what you are saying to your child, and then cross reference it with: “Would I say this to friends/peers…”

Then ask, why am I saying this to my child. What purpose does it serve? Is it constructive is it connecting?

Some things are clearly different and are appropriately only said to a child. However, many are not. Parents automatically convince themselves that because HE is my child, that’s why I’m saying this. But many cases the thing needn’t be said at all, or could have been said in a much more respectful way.

Becoming aware of what you say to your child and how you say it is a big deal. Our voices become the voices in their heads. Is your voice uplifting, positive, accepting and constructive?

If not, pay attention to what you are saying and make the change. Do you need help in doing this?

It matters, a lot.

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