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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Parenting with Shame and Guilt: Low self-esteem, Self-confidence, and Inadequacy

When it comes to raising kids, parents tend to use methods their parents used to raise them. Many parents remember saying, "When I am a parent, I will never do that to my kids." Fast forward to several years later and you may find yourself raising your kids the way your parents raised you.

Parenting techniques are different from the family values and traditions that were passed on to you. Parenting technique refers to how you handle (congratulate or discipline) your kids in good and unpleasant situations.

In unpleasant situations, shame and guilt are often used as a form of discipline by parents, family members, teachers, and sports coaches. Shame is typically used as a tool for gaining control over a child with the threat that certain behaviours, attitude, or beliefs will lead to failure, family shame, or community judgement and exclusion.

Guilt on the other hand is used to make kids feel bad when act against parents' wishes. Further still, parents will continue to make kids feel bad about themselves until they do as is expected of them.
In time, kids learn that when things go wrong or when they do not behave according to standards they should feel ashamed of their behaviour. Eventually, these feelings are experienced automatically whenever things are less than perfect.

Consequences of Using Shame and Guilt as a Parenting Technique

Children who are frequently made to feel ashamed and guilty as they are growing up, often times develop the following problems:

  • ‘I am bad' belief: Many times kids equate the ‘bad' action they committed to who they are. When kids identify with the behaviour that is punished they start believing they are bad.
  • I am not good enough and am undeserving: Kids who feel ashamed have the underlying belief that there is something wrong with them. Because they feel there is something wrong with them they often feel they are undeserving of good things.
  • Avoiding others and social situations: Because kids with feelings of shame are uncomfortable with who they are, they avoid situations where they think others will see the real them.
  • Low self-esteem: Kids who believe they are bad, inadequate and unworthy also develop a low sense of self-worth or self-esteem. Since they feel there is very little that is good about them, they have a hard time feeling good about themselves.
  • Low self-confidence and self-reliance: Because they feel they are inadequate, undeserving, and unskilled, kids with a high sense of shame are often afraid to go after what they want and have a difficult time achieving their goals and dreams.

Shame is an unproductive and debilitating feeling that will keep kids from opening up to grow as human beings. As such, it is essential for parents to be aware of how their parenting techniques will affect their children.

Ivana Pejakovic, B.Sc., MA - About the Author:
Ivana Pejakovic, B.Sc., MA, is a Toronto Life Coach working with teens, young adults, and parents. Life is full of distractions that can lead youth to accidently or intentionally step off the road to self-discovery and self-fulfilment only to end up disoriented, confused and unhappy. Teens are particularly likely to step off the right path as they search for their true self and a place to fit in. Through the principles of self-love and self-awareness Ivana guides her clients to the path of success. Ivana directs her clients to develop a healthy attitude and a healthy level of self-confidence and self-esteem by leading her clients to understand their true worth and potential, to focus on what matters, and to help them develop goals and a vision to guide them in a direction that is right for them.
For more information visit www.lifecoachintoronto.com


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