As parents, we might hurt our kids through our inappropriate selection of words that leads to child shaming. Many times, it is unintentional from our side. But these practices still leave a lasting impact on the impressionable mind of our young children.
What Is Child Shaming?
Child shaming is when adults humiliate children through harsh/unpleasant comments. This puts them down and embarrasses them to a limit that can lead to self-doubt or fear. All this hampers their emotional state, and the end results of these actions are often devastating for the child as well as for the adults.
Some parents may argue that their parenting styles are realistic and they want their kids to perform better. However, it is better to know the risk behind these intentional or unintentional practices before it’s too late.
How Does Child Shaming Affect the Mental Health of Children?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refers to this kind of behavior as emotional abuse. In the United States, a country that values its citizens’ lives so much, 1,750 children died as a result of abuse and neglect in 2020. The figures are not tracked or followed in India, but this type of child abuse is a very common problem here.
To fight against this, good schools and institutions focus on creating a positive environment and student-centricity. By organizing special child welfare and counseling programs for students and parents. This paradigm shift is instrumental to transform the educational settings for the greater good of the students. However, in order to avoid the risks associated with child shaming practices, parents and caregivers must also brush up on their knowledge.
Here’s a list of some things that you must always avoid saying while interacting with your child:
1. Why are you behaving like this?
Emotions are an integral part of our human lives. Besides both adults and children can have a hard time managing these emotions. Many times parents accuse their kids of being dramatic as they find them overreacting to situations. And they end up using words and phrases that create a sense of unworthiness in the child’s mind.
Questioning an emotional outburst or a reaction negatively drives typical and outdated norms of society. This takes away the child’s right to vent out emotions. Such comments draw a line between the so-called acceptable and unacceptable behavior patterns. And the child does not develop the right attitude towards acknowledging emotions and handling these appropriately.
Let the child know what better could have been done instead of forcing ideas abruptly. This will educate the child to choose responses and will bring down sharp reactions considerably.
2. I want you to stop crying right now!
This one is another important comment that goes against the idea of building emotional intelligence. When parents ask their kids to stop crying in an angry tone, it is a straightforward instruction to suppress the child’s emotions.
As adults, we must teach our kids about the importance of emotions in our lives. Because we all need to express our emotions be it good or bad. Shaming the child for being a crybaby or a yelling personality embarrasses him/her immensely. This aggravates more problems in the future. And shaming the child leads to lifelong problems and an irreversible loss of self-esteem.
3. Don’t behave like a small child
Telling the child that he/she is immature is another way of damaging the child’s self-esteem. This creates a burden on the child’s mind. And he/she starts believing that such feelings are irrelevant.
Recognizing an emotion is the first step towards managing it. But by questioning the child’s feelings, we create a negative impact on the child’s overall emotional well-being.
4. You constantly disappoint me!
There are better ways of telling the child that he/she could have done better, instead of telling the child about your disappointment. Never burden your child with your expectations. Because this leaves, the child puzzled and certainly does more harm than any good. It’s even worse to take the conversation to a level of comparison with a sibling/schoolmate/neighbor’s kid or an acquaintance. As this robs the child of his/her individuality. And strictly goes against the idea of accepting individual differences in children.
Each child is a unique personality. And it is important to acknowledge them as unique individuals to help them grow up and develop as blossoming individuals.
5. You can’t do that, I’ll help you!
Doubting the child’s ability to perform a task deprives his/her opportunity to learn from mistakes. Let your child learn through trial and error methods. And help only when it is necessary. Offering help all the time can make children dependent and full of self-doubt. They fail to make the most of experiential learning opportunities. And get into the habit of looking for support even for manageable tasks/activities.
We all want our kids to be independent learners to perform better in school. But if we constantly help them around with all tasks, there is no scope for promoting independent working habits in them.
6. Other kids don’t do that
Creating an unhealthy competition with hers is another way of forcing the child into self-doubt. This hampers the child’s ability to accept him/herself with innate potential. And creates enormous pressure on the child to be like someone else. Instill confidence in your child about his/her capabilities. And refrain from unreasonable comparisons in all situations.
7. It’s ok but could have been better
Children work hard to achieve good results. But hard work alone does not determine great results. There are many more factors that might or might not be in the hands of the child.
When we label the child as mediocre, it belittles the effort that went behind the particular performance. This kind of attitude also plants the idea that the defined goals are unreachable. And all this leads to a sense of wastefulness in the child’s mind.
Instead of commenting on the child’s mediocrity, encourage him/her by appreciating all sincere efforts. Motivate your child to reach the next level through sheer perseverance. And focus on the positives (through constructive feedback) instead of finding faults for the best results.
Child shaming has serious consequences that can tarnish the future of an adult to be!
It questions the ability of a developing mind. And creates a foundation for losing self-esteem. Using child shaming strategies/language speaks more of the adult’s immaturity than the child’s capabilities. It’s always better to avoid using these malpractices well in time rather than regretting it later in life. So go ahead and discard these ideas before they damage your child’s potential forever!