I do not like shame.
I wrote a piece awhile back entitled “I met shame in the sixth grade”. It was talking of the moment that shame came into my life. The moment that I can use as a dividing line from being enough/not being enough.
I think that before that I knew shame. I knew that it affected me.
I was told that words could never hurt me, but in reality words have had a more profound effect on my life than any physical thing that has happened to me.
So yes, I do not like shame.
I mean, that should be pretty standard right? But, did you know that you probably have shaming language spoken to you or that you in fact use it yourself?
Think of this scenario. You, as an adult, are giving a report at work. And in the middle of a sentence your boss gets up and says “no, no, no” and proceeds to “correct” you on what you were speaking on.
How do you think you would feel? Being told by a superior in front of a group of your peers “no, you are doing that wrong”.
You would probably feel ashamed.
Now, picture being in grade school and that happening.
Do you think you’d ever want to do a presentation in class again?
What if, you were at camp and you were talking to your counselor and someone from the stage pointing you out to stop talking before they started again-but you had been telling your counselor you weren’t feeling good?
Now, picture being a kindergartener.
It’s your birthday and you are coloring a bird blue.
The person next to you raises her hand and tattles on you.
And then the teacher makes you start again because “no, the bird can’t be blue” and precedes to take your paper and give you a new one.
I know you are probably wondering where I am going with this.
Am I talking about living a life of participation trophies?
That’s not it at all.
I’m talking about choosing our words more wisely.
More specifically, I am talking about doing our best to take shaming language out of our vocabulary, specifically around the tiny humans and kids that we are around.
Shaming language is telling a child they are “too big” to be somewhere when what you are actually trying to tell them is that they are growing up. Reprimanding them from across the room instead of kneeling to their level.
Shaming language is talking about a child’s poor choices in front of them, like they aren’t there, even though they can 100% understand what’s happening. Shaming language is telling a child “they should know better” or “how could you be so dum
A lot of us, be it teachers or parents or people that interact with kids on a daily basis, grew up in a generation where I don’t believe we truly knew the effects constant amounts of shame had on a child.
And now, as an adult, I think we are learning. I myself, am still learning each day, with how I communicate and speak to the tiny humans around me.
We are learning, that the effects of using shame as a tactic isn’t helpful. It causes kids to shut down. To stop talking, stop participating, and attempting to not take up space.
Shame that was present in my life as a small child is what lead me to shut down and what lead me to do my best not to take up space.
And lastly, before you even go there, I know that children are resilient.
Trust me, I know.
(Maybe, like don’t get into this with me, because I have strong words about kids and resiliency)
But, shouldn’t we, as caregivers, parents, kind humans, do all we can to not shame the kiddos in our space? Shouldn’t we build them up and give them the tools to counteract shame instead of putting shame on them causing them to have to find the tools on their own?
There are enough times when we will screw up, or when other adults around or even other kids will put shame upon the kids in our life. Where they will feel belittled or left behind or left out.
There are so many situations that we have no control over in our kids lives.
But, we can control our own bodies. We can control our own words and reactions.
And think of the generation of kids we would be raising and helping to raise if we ourselves realized that our words had weight in someone else’s life
if we raised a generation of kids that had a first response of positivity and not negativity.
What if we just did our best to not be the reason our kids learned resiliency?
And what if, when we found ourselves saying things that don’t settle we choose to be people who explained ourselves instead of just letting it go.
What do you think that might do?
I think it just might change the world.