I have known for a long time that praise, as a form of positive reinforcement, is valuable when it comes to child-rearing. But the flip side of offering praise is to avoid guilt and shaming.
As individuals, we know that guilt (you have heard me say that guilt is a useless emotion) does not help most situations. I think the author of this article puts shaming and guilt into perspective when he says:
“Shame is the feeling that I am a bad person, whereas guilt is the feeling that I have done a bad thing. Shame is a negative judgment about the core self, which is devastating: Shame makes children feel small and worthless, and they respond either by lashing out at the target or escaping the situation altogether. In contrast, guilt is a negative judgment about an action, which can be repaired by good behavior. When children feel guilt, they tend to experience remorse and regret, empathize with the person they have harmed, and aim to make it right.”
I have had a hard time hearing parents say “You are a bad boy/girl.” It is the behavior that mothers, fathers, and caregivers do not like, so why not identify that instead. This gives children the opportunity to make a better choice in the future. It allows them to make mistakes, which are critical for learning, and determine a more appropriate path.
Adam Grant goes on to say:
“The most effective response to bad behavior is to express disappointment. According to independent reviews by Professor Eisenberg and David R. Shaffer, parents raise caring children by expressing disappointment and explaining why the behavior was wrong, how it affected others, and how they can rectify the situation. This enables children to develop standards for judging their actions, feelings of empathy and responsibility for others, and a sense of moral identity, which are conducive to becoming a helpful person.”
I found this piece inspiring and I hope it will motivate you as well.