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You Feel Guilty After Yelling at Your Child: Here’s Why You Can Let Go of Shame

It’s normal to feel guilty after yelling at your child or losing your patience with them. That’s because you have a conscience and want to do right by your kids.

But it’s also normal to lose patience and yell sometimes–because you’re human!

It’s “human” and “real”. And what I mean by that is that all humans lose their patience sometimes, and in that way, it’s a “normal” human experience.

However, it’s also precisely because it’s real and normal that you and your child have the potential to learn something of great value from the experience, as long as you take time to regulate yourself and then repair. That’s because your kids are going to misstep at some time too, and they’ll need to know what to do.

Your Kids Learn Invaluable Life Lessons

Here’s what I’ve learned from experience about yelling (or making any mistake) and then repairing with my child:

  • Your kids learn to repair.  When you yell at your child ➡️ then realize your mistake ➡️ take a bit of time to calm and regulate yourself ➡️ then repair with your child ➡️ you’re teaching them the valuable skill of how and when to repair in relationships. It’s a skill that will serve them throughout their lifetime.
  • You help prevent toxic shame in your kids, as long as you take full responsibility for losing your cool and for whatever you said or did, and repair the relationship. Kids tend to easily take on responsibility, especially if we blame them for our actions. (e.g., If you hadn’t done ‘xyz’, I wouldn’t have…”). Toxic shame is the ingrained belief that you’re fundamentally flawed and your mistakes define who you are as a person. By repairing, you show your child that they’re not to blame for your actions, which helps preserve their self-esteem and self-worth.
  • Your kids learn to admit their mistakes.  You’re teaching them that it’s okay to make mistakes and that it’s important to take responsibility for your actions. This creates an environment in which it’s safe for them to admit their own mistakes and repair them.

Going forward

So I encourage you – when you misstep, take a moment to allow your feelings of grief or guilt to come up, and see if you can gently give yourself some compassion and understanding. All parents lose their patience at times – you’re human.

Then, focus on calming and regulating yourself before apologizing to your child. This not only models healthy emotional regulation for your child but also creates emotional safety for your child.

Then repair (more tips on that in this video, if needed).

I hope that helps ease your guilt or shame as you go through the process of regulating and repairing. And I hope that you remember that:

The practices described above are essential life skills, and they’re the foundation for a strong connected relationship that feels “real” (albeit “imperfect”), rather than being based on unrealistic expectations of perfection.

It’s a gift you can give your child and yourself, and ultimately it strengthens your bond with your child.

🌷 If you’re continuing to struggle with shame and getting easily triggered by your kids, and you’d like to explore what somatic therapy could offer, you can learn more about that here.


*Photo Credit: Omar Lopez, Unsplash