How To Teach Lessons Through Discipline Instead Of Shame
Why shaming children is not discipline, and how harmful it can actually be plus what you can do instead of shaming to help your child learn lessons.
Parents sometimes shame their children without even realizing it. shaming can be done online and offline, and in every situation it does not make the child feel confident.
For example, if you have a child who is 5 or older and he poops his pants sometimes, you might say to a relative something along the lines of “Bobby is old enough to go to the bathroom on his own but he simply refuses and then next thing you know he’s pooping his pants! How silly is that?”
Imagine overhearing this kind of conversation as a child who has this problem? This child now feels shame, his confidence is shot and it won’t actually stop the the problem! Approaching this situation by keeping is private, and then trying to find the reason for this issue, perhaps it is medical, is the way to help your child out.
You cannot change behaviour with shame. It’s old thinking and it creates many emotional issues.
Online shaming also has become a very popular thing among parents, and I’m not a huge fan. People seem to be so proud of their online shaming tactics and I simply do not agree. I can’t stand it. You are the advocate for your child, it is your job to be their full support system. What happens when the support system fails?
Nothing good. Relationships get damaged, lines of communication get closed, confidence goes down, and the potential for suicide and self-harm goes up. This is a real issue. Stop shaming the kids.
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What Does Shaming Mean?
What exactly is shaming? If we can identify what shaming is, we can most certainly make the necessary changes to avoid shaming our children.
Shaming can be done by sharing embarrassing stories in order to change the behaviour of your child. It is basically bullying your child into submission and is just as bad as spanking and hitting children.
Shaming is also present when you take a private conversation you had with your child and then presented it to friends, other family members or posted it on social media.
Shaming can also be presented by making your child feel bad about themselves instead of focusing on the behaviour which needs to be addressed – such as my pooping example in the beginning. Shaming children brings out anxiety, stress, confidence issues and sometimes PTSD which can lead to suicide in the worst cases.
We have all seen the online shaming tactics that parents try to use by making the child carry a sign which explains their bad behaviour. Did you know that child predators actually go online to look for children who were shamed by their parents so that they can target these kids with low self-esteem? When you shame, you put a target on their back.
Peers of your child also have a bigger reason to start bullying your child in school if you shame publicly and online. everyone can see these tactics, so don’t do it. Keep your child safe and secure by using proper discipline tactics that aren’t so damaging.
For example there is one instance where a mother made her child carry a sign all the way to school along the highway that said “I was rude to my bus driver so Mom is making me walk”.
This “shame game” is public humiliation and can have long last effects on a childrens self esteem.
In the case of the child walking to school instead of taking the bus, that disciplinary action would have been fine if not for the sign and the posting of the event on social media.
If the mother had simply made her child walk to school, alongside her, that would have been a valuable lesson. The walk is long and chilly, and that child would have learned that taking the bus is actually something that helps him in his life and he should be respectful of the adult driving the bus.
Because the mother ended up posting the incident on her social media and making the child walk to school with a sign, she actually displayed bullying actions towards the child instead of disciplinary action.
This kind of thing really shreds the relationship between parent and child. When we work so hard to build it up, why break it down so quickly with shame tactics? When you shame your child you show them that you don’t respect them, that you don’t care about their emotions, that you don’t care about humiliating your child worldwide, that you don’t care if they get bullied or picked on at school and more.
You wouldn’t want to be treated this way, so why do it to your child?
Examples Of Shaming Statements Parents Say To Children
You may not realize it, but it is very easy to shame your child without even thinking much about it.
Here are some common phrases which indicate shaming, and should be avoided:
“Can you be more like your brother”
“You let your class down when you did that”
“Why can’t you dress nicely like your friend Sara”
“Get out of the house, why are you always at home instead of hanging with your friends?”
“Don’t cry, it’s not the end of the world”
“You’re such a bad boy”
“I should ship you off to live with your grandma”
“I am so tired of dealing with you”
“I don’t know why I even bother with you”
Have you said some of these things to your children? Yes i know some of them are really bad, and you should never say them to your children, but I had to add them to the list because parents do say things like that sometimes.
These common phrases might sound like constructive criticism to you but they are actually shaming words because they don’t help your child identify a problem and guide them to change that problem, we are essentially telling the child they are wrong and they need to change.
Is Criticism and Shame The Same Thing?
There is a fine line between shaming and criticism.
Criticism can be done in a positive way, and can actually motivate the child to do better.
Shaming is always negative and can have lasting effects on self-esteem.
Children cannot change the things they are being shamed for such as not being a star athlete or not being social enough. We can’t change the way we look, and how good we are at certain things. Sure practice makes perfect, but if a child is not coordinated and doesn’t enjoy throwing a ball, then maybe baseball isn’t the sport for that child and they shouldn’t get shamed for not wanting to play anymore.
Sometimes the thing that the child is being shamed for is part of their identities such as clothing choices, hair styles and make-up trends.
Shaming your child can make them feel like they can’t change rather than motivating them to make better choices. Using consequences, communication and positive parenting (like inductive discipline)is a way you can help your child feel safe, secure and valued instead of ashamed and angry.
Shaming children makes them feel bad about themselves. Getting shamed by family members is the worst because the words from family members weigh more than the words of strangers. Words can be hurtful and damaging to confidence.
Words To Use Instead Of Shaming
I am all about positive parenting. Positive parenting or positive discipline is a parenting style that helps create strong bonds between children and avoiding the use of spanking and negative punishment (fear conditioning) when teaching lessons.
When your children choose to not listen here are some positive ways you can create conversation and teach lessons:
- “Please tell me what happened” Ask your child what happened and really listen to them,
- “What does that feel like?” Assist your child in feeling the feelings that are related to the event that happened. Do they feel shame, anger, fear, happiness, surprise? Identify these feelings.
- “What could you have done differently?” Ask your child if they know of different ways they could have handled a certain situation. You might be surprised to hear that they knew a better way to handle something, they just didn’t think about it at that moment.
- “How can I help?” Offer your help if the child would like to receive it.
What To Do If You Have Shamed Your Child Publicly
No one is perfect and you might be reading this article and thinking to yourself that you have already shamed your child on social media.
There is not much you can do about it now other than apologize for your behaviour and try to repair the relationship with your child. We all live and learn from our mistakes, just as our children do when they make mistakes. Remember that things will likely be rocky between your and your child after such shaming tactics, even if they don’t seem like it. Teenagers especially are quite good at hiding their real feelings so even if you don’t think anything is wrong and all is seemingly good, still try to repair the relationship.
How To Discipline A Child Without Resorting To Shame
1. Regulate Your Own Emotions First: The first thing you should do when your child does something that you do not approve of is regulate your own emotions first. If you need help staying calm here is a good article for you. Regulating your own emotions is a very powerful part of parenting and if you can do this you are less likely to damage the relationships between you and your children. If you’re really tired, you will likely have a harder time self-regulating. Here are my best tips for tired moms if you need help in that department.
2. Identify The Cause Of Behaviour
Figure out the cause of the behaviour by asking yourself some important questions.
Was this behaviour caused by an unmet need that the child was really missing? Is there something I can do about this? Maybe we can work together to fix this mistake so that proper lessons can be learned. Perhaps the cause of behaviour was due to a lack of connection with my child. How can I help my child learn their lesson so it sticks for the long run?
3. Decide On A Disciplinary Action If One Is Needed
If you’ve gone through your checklist and have decided that a disciplinary action is required, then take some time to think of a consequence that is fair and relates directly to the behaviour you are punishing. Sometimes natural consequences take place you no further action is required from you, other times you might have to step in and create a consequence.
Leaving Emotional Scarring Out Of Discipline
Shame tactics and criticism can lead to some serious emotional scarring which can lead to serious problems and even suicide. I understand that changing the way you parent can be difficult. I was raised with negative punishment (fear conditioning) and I have to try extra hard to not use the same techniques on my own children. Taking deep breaths and thinking about the situation really helps me.
When I talk to my friends and family, I avoid bringing up any sort of personal problems the children could be facing to avoid shaming them by accident. This is easy to do, you can do the same!
I really hope this article was helpful to you and you understand now how damaging shaming children really can be.
More Discipline Tips
- How To Teach Lessons Through Discipline Instead Of Shame
- Mistakes You May Be Making When Responding To Tantrums
- 5 Powerful Responses For Backtalk
- How You May Accidentally Be Raising Ungrateful Children (And how To Fix That)
- What Is Positive Discipline: 6 Simple Techniques To Use At Home
- Setting Consequences For Kids Who Do Not Care About Consequences
- Is Positive Parenting Solutions Parenting Course Worth It? (Yes…But Why?)
- Natural Consequences You Should Allow Your Children To Experience
- 8 Easy Ways To Battle The “I Can’t Do It” Attitude
- Tips For Parenting An Angry Child
What You Should Do Next:
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- Easily get kids to listen – the FIRST time. No yelling or reminding…not even once!
- Put an end to daily power struggles. Bedtime became a breeze, and all the dawdling, chore wars, sibling rivalry, and mealtime meltdowns disappeared.
- Reduce backtalk by HALF! It’s simple once you know the secrets of these two ‘buckets.’
- Say goodbye to punishments that DON’T work. There’s a 5-step formula that works WAYYY better than time-outs.
- Feel amazing, confident, and empowered as a parent, every day. I NEVER go to bed feeling guilty anymore! (Okay, well maybe sometimes…’ mom guilt’ is still a thing.)