Throughout this interview, we investigate the many roles Shame can play in a child’s life. We look at how she can help children develop an understanding of what they think is right and wrong, and of how to cooperate with others.
While Shame can be a positive influence in a child’s life, she can also become overwhelming for children who are living in unsafe or violent situations, particularly when influenced by Self-blame and Guilt. This is the case for Ellie, an eight-year-old girl who is witnessing much of the physical and verbal violence being perpetrated by her dad towards her mum. Ellie’s dad has become very critical of Ellie, accusing her of being too reliant on her mum. This has started to make Ellie believe she is responsible for the violence and uncertainty in their home, and has led Ellie to call upon Shame more and more in her daily life.
Shame speaks about the supports that can make Ellie feel less guilt or self-blame about her home life, like her grandmother who visits her from out of town. But ultimately, when Ellie’s grandmother leaves, she returns to many of the negative messages that are reinforced when her dad becomes violent. To find the right amount of shame in her life, Ellie needs more supportive adults like her grandmother to focus on her strengths, teach her how to talk about what she’s feeling, and to talk about the ‘big secrets’ like family and domestic violence so Ellie no longer has to make up her own understandings.
In this episode you will learn:
- how Shame can support children to be caring, co-operative and to get along with others [1:07]
- how children like Ellie can come to over-rely on Shame when they are witnessing violent behaviour at home or receiving negative messages from a parent [3:32]
- how Shame can be foremost in a child’s life when they are experiencing violence, repeating unhelpful and negative messages to the child [5:10]
- the importance of support networks in a child’s life in providing hopeful, trusting and nurturing messages [8:53]