Shame Versus Guilt


We meet again!

This month’s video is Shame Versus Guilt. We’re talking about how guilt is described as “I have done something bad” while shame is the belief that “I am bad.” We discuss how shame doesn’t typically lead to change, while guilt recognizes offense and the desire to rectify that offense.

It is good to know the difference between shame and guilt because both affect the way we parent. In this email, I’ll address the issue of shaming.

Sometimes parents connect shaming and parenting with things like spanking, public scolding, or another discipline. However, there are other ways parents shame their children, and they are often subtle. This can include demeaning your child, or even rolling your eyes at your son or daughter after they have done something of which you don’t approve.

Words like “Why are you acting like a two-year-old?” spoken to a child, especially in front of others, are also a form of shaming. Not only is this parenting pointless, ineffective, and hurtful, it can be terribly destructive. Seeking to change a child’s behavior by making him or her feel shame makes a child feel small and insignificant.

When eight-year-old Jane accidentally hit her sister in the head with her doll from swinging it around her head like a lasso, her mother had had enough. “What are you thinking? Did you think you wouldn’t eventually hit someone when you play with the doll like that?” Jane burst out into tears, ran to her room, and rolled up in a ball on her bed. Jane’s mother communicated to Jane that she had done something idiotic, whether that was her intent or not.

Though Jane shouldn’t have been swinging her doll around, it’s important to remember that there is a difference between shaming and disciplining. Discipline is about correcting and guiding a child toward more appropriate behavior. A candid discussion about the reasons why we don’t swing toys over our heads, especially around younger children, followed by helping the child understand other ways to express feelings or needs, is more in order.

We hope this article will help you consider times you may be shaming your child without realizing it. We hope you benefit from the tips and tools offered both in the video and in the emails.

Partnering with you,

Parenting Class Video


Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, suggestions or problems with these resources!

p.s. Watch for more help in part 2!