“Shame starts at home. Fortunately, so does shame resilience. As parents, we have the opportunity to raise children who are courageous, compassionate, and connected. We can choose to learn the tools we need to parent without using shame. We can even teach our children empathy skills. But as you might guess, before we can teach or model these skills, we must understand the role shame plays in our own lives and practice resilience in our relationships.” Dr. Brene Brown

Shame is a tough emotion to deal with, and it’s even tougher as a parent. But there are things we can do to help our kids learn how to manage shame in healthy ways.

What is shame?

Shame is a feeling of being embarrassed or humiliated. It may be triggered by a situation, event or action that we take responsibility for, sense of complete unworthiness and isolation, an awareness that we are utterly unlovable. And it’s something everyone experiences. We feel shame for how we look, our personalities, failing others and ourselves, saying the wrong thing at the wrong timeAs parents we all make mistakes sometimes, so it’s important that our kids know that they aren’t alone in experiencing shame and embarrassment. If a teenager doesn’t learn how to handle these feelings appropriately then they may become anxious or depressed as adults because they’ve never learned how to deal with them effectively.

  • shame is a feeling of being embarrassed or humiliated
  • shame is different from guilt, which is a feeling that comes from doing something wrong
  • when we feel ashamed, it can seem like the whole world is looking at us


What happens when we experience shame?

First thing is we try to cover it. We hide, isolate ourselves, and blame other people. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree, they saw that they were naked, they responded by hiding. When God confronted them, they blamed Him and each other for what they had done. sometimes we experience shame for no reason at all—when we’ve done nothing wrong! This kind of shame is called “inappropriate” or “non-contextual.” When we experience this type of shame, it can lead us to think bad things about ourselves and feel isolated from others.

What to do.

That’s why it’s so important for parents to learn how to raise children who are resilient against feeling ashamed unnecessarily—and even more importantly, how to teach them compassion and empathy skills so they can help others who are experiencing shame.

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