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September 22, 2015

Shaming Never Works

Hal photo outside Feb2012Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Think of the last time you felt humiliated or treated unfairly. Did you feel like cooperating or doing better?” (Jane Nelson)

Few things are easier than being critical. Judgments and disparagements roll off the tongue with ease and, with the miracle of digital connections, can be thumbed out even easier. Thank God, right? With texting or social media, we don’t even have to look at the person we’re shaming.

Of course, the real tragedy is that the people we criticize most are the ones we say we love the most. The ones closest to us. The ones whose lives we feel most responsible for.

But that’s why we judge them so often—we feel responsible for their behavior, as if any bad choice on their part is somehow a direct reflection on ourselves. So, we try to shame them into behaving better in the exact same way we try to shame ourselves into behaving better.

Time for a question, then: Can you recall the last time beating yourself up actually prompted you to carry a more positive, enthusiastic attitude?

Neither can I.

So why do we think it’ll work with our kids?

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