How Can You Help Your Child Deal With Shame?

Yamamoto Tsunemoto, a famous author, once said, “By bringing shame to a person, how could one expect to make him a better man?” 

Parents want much more than better for their children, they desire the best for them. There is nothing quite like the parent’s love and the desire to protect, shelter, and care for their child. No one can quite explain the bond between parents and their children. It is unexplainable and innate, yet tangible and natural for everyone to see. We, as parents, always tend to want to protect our children from anything and everything. We have the opportunity to protect our children from the enemy within, but what can we do as parents? How do we save them from shameful situations? I hope to achieve just that with this article.

What is Shame?

Have you ever seen anyone telling embarrassing stories or revealing certain information to manipulate a child’s behaviour or attitude? Have you ever seen a person talk to a child publicly about certain behaviours and their consequences instead of doing it privately? Most times, these acts are done to shame the child and make them think or feel lesser than themselves. Therefore, shame is a feeling of embarrassment, humiliation which stems from our actions or inactions. While child shaming might be a quick fix and transform the child into seemingly becoming a better person, its consequences are far greater. Instead of trying to solve the problem, they focus on the child.

Although shaming children has been a tradition that has existed for a long time, the advent of social media has made its consequences even greater. In the process, relational equity, trust, and self-esteem are lost. In fact, in extreme cases, child shaming has led to the reinforcement of the very act you are trying to deter your child from, as they tend to act in complete defiance.

Do read on the importance of emotions. 

Negative Effects of Shame on a Child?

Shaming your children has long-lasting effects and consequences on them and makes them feel more than shameful. So then, what are the negative effects or consequences of shame on a child? Some of such consequences are:

• Issues of self-esteem: every parent wants their children to have a head start in life. Having their self-esteem in place alongside a loving environment is what most children need to get ahead. Shaming your children rids them of this advantage and robs you of their love. While you think the feeling will be temporary and last within that moment, the feeling of embarrassment, inadequacy, and humiliation often lingers on for more than you have ever intended. As a result, most children feel they cannot get anything right or teach the right behavioural changes.

• Risk of Losing Your Relationship with Your Child: Every parent wants their child to be their best friend and form a close bond with them. Shaming works against this desire and leaves your child ashamed and disrespected. Since it is difficult for anyone to maintain a relationship with someone who belittles or disrespects them, nurturing your relationship with your child becomes difficult. With the advent of social media, the reach of shaming becomes even more pronounced, and they become more withdrawn from you.

• Reduces their Natural Self-Expression: Children are often seen as kids; however, they are much more. Children are individuals with their personalities. Shaming your child reduces this personality and impedes them from expressing themselves naturally. As a result, they question their judgment, leading to low creativity.

How Can You Help Your Child Deal with Shaming?

• Model behaviour: Most kids look up to their parents to help them deal with issues associated with shaming. This way, children can cultivate healthy habits and learn how to handle shaming situations on their own. As a result, parents must learn to remain calm, avoid teasing their children, and not be obsessed with the situation.

Take your child’s embarrassment seriously: Most times, parents tend to equate their children’s embarrassment to their own. It simply doesn’t work that way! What looks trivial to you means the world to children. Therefore it is important not to downplay or look down on your child’s embarrassing situations.

Do not overreact: When your child is embarrassed, you would want to help them out by reacting appropriately. However, you don’t want to overact and get angry when your child is angry. Experience has shown that giving too much attention and overreacting often complicates the situation and makes the child feel worse.

Also read more on embarrassment and shame in our blog “How to overcome embarrassment”.

7 Ways to Teach Kids How to Manage Shame

1. Encourage Positive skills: If your child tells you of an embarrassing situation, do not dwell on it for too long or over-comfort them. Instead, it is important to encourage their positive coping skills. For instance, if they make a mistake during their violin lessons, you should praise them for concentrating and finishing the piece.

2. Help Create a Perspective: Many kids are concerned about themselves and think most people are as well. In reality, they are not! It is important for you as parents to remind your child of this and help them move on.

3. Let your child lead: Letting your child take the lead through questions can be helpful, especially if they are already low on confidence. Questions help you understand your child and stay in control of the situation while you help them become better.

4. Don’t overreact: To empathize with your child, you might overreact. It is important that you keep your emotions in check, react appropriately without dismissing the importance of your child’s situation.

5. Teach them life lessons: We all want to protect our children from bad and hurtful experiences. Unfortunately, these experiences are part of life and account for some of what shapes them. Therefore, you must find a way to support them while reminding them of this fact.

6. Don’t compare: Nothing rids a child of love and self-confidence like comparison. Therefore, you mustn’t compare your child with another.

7. Share Your Experiences: Parents are children’s heroes. So sharing your shaming or embarrassing experience with your child helps them get over it in no time.

How Can Psychotherapy Help to Heal from Shame?

Psychotherapy can help your child deal with shaming and rebuild his self-esteem. Psychotherapy enables you to understand the meaning of shaming and also teaches how to develop compassion and empathy in the middle of it all. Psychotherapy also helps develop coping skills necessary to deal with shame and become a better person. It also helps draw the line and recognize toxic shaming and how to deal with it. But, more importantly, psychotherapy helps you become aware of traces of shame, recognize them and face them head-on. For instance, it is a shame when your child gets angry deep down.

At the same time, you can also consider going for family therapy to work on different emotions and feelings as a systemic unit. 


Shame is a feeling of embarrassment, humiliation, and inadequacy that arises from our actions or inactions. This feeling can destroy your relationship with your child and rid them of their confidence, self-esteem, and creativity. Thus, removing your child’s shame is not a luxury, but a necessity, which plays an essential role in their development.

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