The little boy was unhappy for some reason and threw himself on the floor in the grocery store, blocking the path of several customers pushing carriages. His mother grabbed him by the arm and dragged him off to the side and out of the other shoppers’ way, scolding him for the outburst.
The strongest word I heard her say was in her sentence, “Shame on you for being so rude!” The word was SHAME. For some, it may be a very normal word that they’ve heard often. I’ve heard it used to lift some up above others; “He played so well on the field that he put the others to shame.” I’ve heard other adults say, “For shame, for shame!”
A man once shared with me that he first felt the effects of shame when he was very young. At preschool age, he and his male playmate were swimming in a wading pool in the back yard and decided they didn’t need to wear their swim trunks. When his grandmother saw what the two boys had done, she ran out to them and screamed “Shame on you,” sent the playmate home, and dragged her grandson into the house.
This man revealed that he was forced to feel shame many times throughout his childhood and it left a painful feeling inside that was hard for him to describe. Hearing that word made him feel bad, damaged, broken, and less than others. He said it carried over into his marriage, impacting his intimacy and his self-esteem.
Looking up the definition of the word in the dictionary will define the word as; the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, or ridiculous. It is that painful feeling that can have lasting effects on the person being shamed for his or her actions. That pain can actual alter the way a person lives out their daily life.
Instead of using shame to control your child, use unconditional love; remain calm, explain why certain actions aren’t OK, and be cognizant of a child’s emotions. When the boys decided to take off their swim trunks, grandma could have calmly given them a choice to wear their trunks to keep swimming, or return home. Then some time later, calmly explained to them why that rule is important.
When that little boy in the grocery store had his meltdown, his mother could have gently removed him from the middle of the isle and held him until he calmed down. She could have refrained from speaking to him because children having tantrums are unable to interpret the words they hear. Forcing a tantrum to stop by using shame is not a healthy method for discipline.