Learning to manage emotional intelligence in children, working with shame in children is a feeling that worries parents a lot, who, wanting their children to overcome it as soon as possible, strive to expose them to situations that force them to interact with strangers or other children, not knowing that this is not a very good way to help them lose their embarrassment.
To help shameful children, we must first understand what shame is, an emotion that begins to appear in the first 18-24 months of life.
Children show shame verbally and nonverbally, warning when certain situations make them feel it or gesturing this feeling through bodily responses such as blushing, lowering their heads, running away, hiding behind a parent… It is important to remember that shame does not It is the same as shyness, but by working on shyness we will be making an advance in the emotional intelligence of the boy or girl and we will be able to avoid, in part, the occurrence of shame.
How do I help my children deal with shame?
The first thing to understand is that children need empathy from us, so reproaching shame or exposing it does not help. For this reason, it is good to avoid expressions such as “ Has the cat eaten your tongue? ”, “ Who would this embarrassing child have come out to? ”, “ Aren’t you going to say hello to your uncles? That is rude .”, because the only thing we are going to achieve with this type of behavior is to make children feel insecure and vulnerable, resulting in the opposite of what we want to achieve.
To help children build their emotional intelligence in a healthy way , we need to help them understand what kind of feeling shame is and why they feel that way, so that in the future they can identify it and use the correct tools to manage the situation. Children need to feel understood, safe and connected, so it is very important to reassure them that what they feel is normal and nothing is wrong, and that it is something that you can overcome together.
Tips for dealing with shame
Below we propose a series of tips that can be very useful when working with shame in children:
- Be a good example . Children are mirrors of their environment, and if they see their adult role models trying to overcome things that happen to them, they will be more likely to do the same as their role models.
- Avoid criticism, especially non-constructive ones . Children are learning everything from scratch and, like everyone else, they need a lot of practice. Criticizing his efforts only serves to destroy his self-esteem and create insecurities that will make him not want to try again in front of anyone.
- Praise their progress. Instead of criticizing what they don’t do well, the best option is to positively reinforce what they do well and their efforts. This promotes their self-confidence and will avoid situations where they feel embarrassed.
- Encourage your independence . Making mistakes is an essential part of all learning, and children should be allowed to do so. Letting the child do things autonomously reinforces the idea that the adult believes in her abilities, making the child feel more self-confident.
- Do not speak or respond for the child , even when they do not want to answer. This is linked to the previous point; it is necessary to reinforce the idea that a child is an individual and autonomous person.
- Encourage them to ask questions and requests of third parties and praise them when they do so.
- For this reason, children must be supported without becoming overprotective , allowing them to face situations that cause them shame.
- Don’t force them to do things they don’t want to do, even if they do those things in private with no problem.
- Do not compare them with other children . With this, the only thing we achieve is that the child feels inadequate and inferior compared to the rest.
- Encourage them to interact with other children from a very early age so that they get used to being in society naturally.