It’s not always easy to tell when the random thing that came out of your mouth is motivating, or accidentally shaming. Sometimes the same exact words can be humiliating with one tone, and encouraging in another. That's especially true when you're a parent speaking to your child. That insidious little bugger of shame comes out in the best of parents. Hell, there are ways you don't realize you're shaming your preschooler this very minute, probably, which is why it's always worth taking a moment to sit back, examine our words, and consider how we can change the way we speak to our children for the better.
Brené Brown, world-renowned shame researcher, says shame used as a parenting tool has the opposite effect of what most parents hope to accomplish. It doesn't make kids want to do better, it makes them think they're inherently bad and incapable of doing better. If you're inherently bad no matter what you do, kids' brains understandably think, "Well, then why even try?" But a lot of us were raised with our parents thinking shame was a powerful tool for creating kids with a conscience. As a result, a lot of our automatic parenting skills are shame-based. Hey, I'm not bashing our parents; they did the best they could with what they themselves had. We also do the best we can with what we've got, and when you know better you do better.
So let's unpack the ways you may be shaming your preschooler without knowing it. Which, of course and thankfully, will help us do better.