Understanding Guilt and its Effects on Children

A little girl feeling blueBeing or becoming a successful parent to your children is much more than just making sure they are fed properly or that they get to school on time. It's more than simply making sure your child is safe and behaving good. Being a successful parent also means raising kids without guilt in their lives. It includes nuturing your childs emotions. Guilt means to feel bad about something that was said or done in the past. To a certain extent, the past can be used as a tool to motivate improved behavior. This is because learning from the past serves a useful purpose. But guilt is not learning from the past.

The real feeling of guilt means to be immobilized in the present over something that has already occurred. It is a negative and confidence-crushing feeling. Guilt is a tool used by adults to make other people feed bad. We tend to use it more on children because we think that it is a good way to control their behavior. I understand that your intention is merely to control your child and put a halt to whatever they are doing that is causing trouble, but using guilt can cause more internal and external social problems within you child for years to come.

Whatever the intention of adults may be when they are reinforcing feelings of guilt in children, it presents only negative manifestations. Such negative manifestations include panic, fear, , sleeplessness, shame, lack of initiative, and loss of self-esteem.

When you use guilt as a way to prod children of any age into doing or acting how you want them to, or to feel bad for something that is already over, you are taking a huge step to helping them become anxious thinkers. Anxious thinkers are filled with the physical manifestations of anxiety.

Although using guilt on your children will grant you the temporary quick-fix to a troubling situation that your son or daughter is causing, this guilt is felt within the child and works fast to internalize feelings of . Have you ever played the “feel bad game” with your child? Most of us have at one point or another. To an adult it is very innocent and with no harmful intentions, but to the child it the start of guilt and worry.

A very basic example of a “feel bad game” is when you pretend to cry or pout with your three-year-old and force her to give you a kiss because she cannot stand to see you feeling bad. Congratulations, you have just introduced a high feeling of anxiousness to her mind by creating what may seem like a harmless game to you. Your child has then learned very quickly that she has not choice over whom she kisses because she is to give attention to whomever is making her feel bad in life. Is this how you want your kids to make all of their decisions as young teens and then adults?  I hope not, I know I don't. Parenting can be very challenging at times and part of good parenting is understanding what we do and say can affect our children, not only now, but as our children grow up and become adults.

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Comments on Understanding Guilt and its Effects on Children Leave a Comment

September 19, 2008

Ranay @ 12:53 pm #

I just read Understanding Guilt and its effects on Children. The article was great at explaining guilt and how it grows within your child, but it doesn't go on to say how to fix the problem! Thank you

October 13, 2009

amanda @ 6:43 pm #

i just read this article and i have been put through the "guilt trip" my whole life. i am 25 years old now and have been effected negatively because of it and still to this day get it from my mother. this article definately explained how it effects a child and how they turn out as an adult. just like the comment before mine…i would like to know how to fix it as well, for myself. thanks

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