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What's The Antidote To Shame?
Most of us come from a generation where shaming was practiced extensively by our own parents.
Why? It’s effective and comes from war-time generations where compliance and obedience were paramount, and emotional wellbeing and mental health weren’t really on our radar yet.
Research into parenting styles (and the impact on children) didn’t really kick off until the 1960s. It then took time for the studies to be written up, published, put into mainstream parenting books, and shared with the masses.
For a long time, strict parenting AND using shame as a tool was very common and encouraged. And that’s why so many of us were raised this way. The research simply hadn’t been done yet to teach us any differently.
Shame casts a long shadow… and whether we intend to or not, it’s a tool most of us use with our own kids.
While it might be effective in gaining compliance, it actually teaches children that THEY are not OK (rather than the behavior being ‘not OK’).
That can be extraordinarily damaging to their sense of self-esteem and self-confidence in the long-term. Shame makes us believe we are incapable of change and are unlovable.
So what’s the antidote to shame?
That’s exactly what we’ll be exploring in this video.See below for the full transcript.
Transcript: Shaming Kids
** Note – transcript is automatically generated and lightly edited
So if you think about shame, most of us think about… I don’t know, this is what I think about, a dog and you scolding it and it puts its head down. And that’s usually what I think shame looks like, when we shame our kids. That’s what they do. And when we feel shamed, you just want to… right?
What does everyone say … I want to crawl under a rock, I want to blend into the wall, I want to die, right? Whenever you feel shame, and how you know that you’re shaming is if it’s disconnected, isolated, armored… walls go up.
And you can know that you’re shaming when your finger is out wagging. When you’re yelling, usually any sort of scolding, really.
The problem with shame, though, is that most of us were raised like that. Most of us come from a generation of parents that that was a very effective way to parent. A lot of us use shame as a tool, because it’s efficient. In the short-term.
In the long term, it’s not because we end up being more and more disconnected, disconnected, disconnected… So an example would be in little ways, because if I said, If I asked you what, when you walk through the door, “Do you shame your children? Do you shame your children?” You’d go, “Oh God, no… oh God, no, no.” But the way that we do it is in really subtle ways.
So for example, Maddy and Henry are eating dinner. And Laura might say, “Henry, Maddy’s eaten all her dinner. I don’t know what you’re doing bud, but but she’s eaten all of her dinner, and you still have a lot to go.” So does that make sense? Little, little subtle ways that we do that.
And what does that make them feel? Crap about themselves. Small, not enough, not okay. So it’s important to always remember that you will shame, and I do it too.
The Shame Spectrum
Just try to view it as like a spectrum. Shaming our kids is at this end, and we just want to aim for being over here and being as like far away from it as possible, and you’ll still slip into it, but just aiming to be on this side. Does that make sense?
The antidote to shame is vulnerability, connection, and empathy.
And vulnerability doesn’t mean you know, airing your dirty laundry or you know, telling your kids your deep, dark secrets. Vulnerability means being sensitive, compassionate, gentle, being vulnerable with them.
So when your kids do something stupid, you don’t shame them into it, but you go, “Oh, bud, what’s going on? Why did why did that happen? I wonder?”… and being in more coming from a more vulnerable place than a shaming place. And then same thing when you feel shame when you’ve done something stupid, and you go and tell a friend you want them to say “Oh, dude, I’ve totally done that 100 times”, and be vulnerable with you or empathetic to you and go “Oh, I hate it when I do that. So sorry that happened”. Right? That’s what we want. That is the antidote to shame.
Okay, so shame is… for those of you that are nerds, and taking notes, shame is disconnection, isolation, armored, scolding. And the antidote to shame is vulnerability, connection, empathy.