Guilt or Shame?

When a child commits a mistake he feels something about that mistake and that feeling could either be guilt or shame. Guilt is a feeling of self-reproach that comes after a person has done something wrong. Guilt is innate in every normal human being, it is nature’s way of controlling the human race, it keeps the society in order. Shame on the other hand is the painful feeling that comes when guilt gets out of hand and becomes too big to handle. Guilt grows into shame when others make too much fuzz about the wrong that was done. Shame is harmful to children, it could destroy their self-esteem, so it must be avoided as much as possible.

The feeling of guilt is natural and healthy but I believe it is not the duty of parents or anyone to put guilt into a child’s heart. Guilt comes naturally after a child commits a mistake, there is no need for the parents to see to it that it is there. When a child commits a mistake it is the duty of the parents to help the child make amends. Parents must not scold the child immediately when he does something wrong; it is better just to remind the child about the rule that was broken. Never put too much negative attention on the wrong that was done, focus on how to fix it with your child. Name calling and blaming should be avoided also because they only add insult to injury and do not help at all in fixing the wrong that was done.

After you and your child work together to fix the mistake, it is good to reassure your child that your bond is still as strong as ever, that mistakes happen but it could not break your love.