Creative Child

The Toxic Effects of Shaming Children

by Rebecca Eanes


The Cost of Shame

Shame doesn’t diminish behavior; it diminishes the self. This may, in turn, affect behavior, but at what cost? According to Good Children – At What Price? The Secret Cost of Shame by Robin Grille and Beth McGregor, numerous studies link shame with the desire to punish others.


Shamed individuals are more likely to be aggressive and exhibit self-destructive behavior. Shame causes people to withdraw from relationships, to become isolated, and they compensate for deep feelings of shame with attitudes of superiority, bullying, self-deprecation, or obsessive perfectionism. When shame has been severe, it can contribute to mental illness.

Instead of Shaming

There are plenty of ways to teach children without attacking or humiliating them.

  • Discipline through play. During play, children’s brains are very receptive. This is an opportune time to teach boundaries and appropriate behavior.

  • Try these alternatives to punishment. They work!

  • Give consequences that teach, not shame. Allow natural consequences when appropriate and utilize problem-solving skills to determine what the child needs to be taught in order to do better. If a consequence is necessary, it should be related and delivered with the intent to teach, not to make the child feel bad about himself.
  • Discipline with connection in mind. Understanding that calm, connected children absorb information best is important to changing from a punitive mindset to connection-based discipline.

Join the Movement to End Child Shaming

A group of advocates have created a call to action to stop the shaming of children. Every voice counts, and children need your voice. Please visit and sign the petition to end shaming on social media. Our children deserve our protection. In order to raise emotionally healthy people, we must stop shaming now.


Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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