How Shame Harms Boys

Photo by Grey World via Flickr

What do you do if a teacher shames your son in front of the class? 

For many parents, this is not an abstract question. Teachers, coaches, bus drivers and yes, even parents still use shame to shape kids’ behavior. Adults yell at children in front of their peers, berate them for a lack of effort, criticize their attempts…and children’s spirits shrivel.

Shame is a universal human experience. According to the Oxford dictionary, shame is “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” In and of itself, the emotion isn’t particularly harmful; it can even positively mold behavior. However, when human beings are humiliated by others, they tend to assume that there is something wrong with them. People who are repetitively shamed do not feel an innate sense of worth; instead, they feel unworthy and unlovable.

If your grew up with shame (and many of us did), you may be hard-pressed to recognize it or its harm.




We can do better for our boys.

In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss:
  • The difference between SHAME and SHAMING
  • How the “boy code” feeds shame and guilt
  • Harmful effects of shame
  • Breaking the generational cycles of shame
  • Classroom management practices that fuel shame & cause harm (Clip charts, we’re looking at you!)
  • The link between school shaming and boys’ negative attitudes toward school
  • Respectful discipline
  • Healing from shame
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

Teaching Boys Respect — ON BOYS episode

Steve Biddulph on Raising Boys — ON BOYS episode

How Children Develop Toxic Shame — Aha! Parenting blog post

How to Break the Cycle of Shame with Your Child — Aha! Parenting blog post

Moving Into the Red: Boys & Education — Jen’s post about her son’s experience with school behavior charts (mentioned at 15:40)

Why Classroom Clip Charts Do More Harm Than GoodParents article by psychologist Emily King

Is There a Place for Shame in Your Parenting Toolbox?Washington Post article

5 Ways Shame Can Shape Your Life — article mentioned by Janet at 22:30

How to Teach Consent to Boys — Without Shaming ThemYour Teen article by Jen


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