Years ago, I purchased an audiobook (The Gifts Of Imperfect Parenting) by Brene Brown, author of several best-selling books, namely Daring Greatly, The Gifts Of Imperfection, Rising Strong, Braving The Wilderness and more.\u00a0 As I listened to this researcher share her experiences and those of others, coupled with the studies conducted, I began to see how I could easily shape my children negatively, unknowingly. It\u2019s so common that it could happen to the best of us. The worst part is that we are not even aware of it. Until we learn, from someone backed with statistics from years of researches and studies. I\u2019ll share some of the key points I learned from The Gifts Of Imperfect Parenting, in the hope of raising some awareness amongst mummies here. I know we are all doing what we think is best and never mean to cause mental and emotional harm to our children. But what we don\u2019t know could very well do just that. Understanding Shame Vs Guilt The way we talk and communicate with our children plays a very important part in how we can either make or break them. The language we use may be simple and common, but they have huge emotional and psychological effects for those on the receiving end.\u00a0 Whenever our children make mistakes or don\u2019t behave as expected, we usually have a response coming. It is in these responses that we need to be careful with. According to Brene Brown, guilt-tripping our children in an appropriate way is an approach that is less severe than shaming them. Children experience shame as a threat of being unloveable. Studies have found that shamed children grew up to be more prone to suicidal tendencies, and more likely to abuse negative substances like alcohol and drugs. Yet, shaming is a primary tool used by parents. So what do statements of shame sound like?\u00a0 Shame Vs Guilt In Action A little girl decides to throw a tantrum during mealtime and topples her plate of food, spilling everything to the floor. To reprimand her bad behaviour, the mummy utters these words, \u201cYou\u2019re a bad girl! Naughty girl!\u201d Labelling the child as bad and naughty is shaming the child. As this goes on overtime, the little girl grows up with self-talks that sounds something like this, \u201cI\u2019m bad. I\u2019m not good at anything. I\u2019ll never be good enough.\u201d Guilt talk, on the other hand, just needs a little tweak. When being reprimanded, these words are said instead, \u201cYou\u2019re a good girl, but showing bad behaviour!\u201d One is describing the person, the other is describing a behaviour or an act. The idea is to show the child that she has made a bad choice, but she isn\u2019t bad in our eyes. It is the behaviour that we do not condone. Another common utterance (and I\u2019m absolutely guilty of this) is when my son makes a mess and I declare aloud, \u201cYou\u2019re so messy!\u201d Well, guess what? Brene Brown says the child is making a mess, but he is not messy. When we point out all the bad that they are, they tend to absorb that as their identity, as who they really are. How could they not feel bad about themselves? Other People\u2019s Shame Talks Whilst we understand and remove shaming from our parenting toolbox, bear in mind that our children also have many social contacts with other people whose beliefs are different from ours. They may be unaware of and use the shaming language on our children. Teachers, relatives, friends could easily label our children in their interactions. So we need to sit our children down and have conversations with them to make them understand.\u00a0 Once they are aware, then the shaming language of others will not be taken to heart in the same damaging way. Being a Shame-Resilient Family Whether we are mothering a young child of four or a teenager, the best way to talk about shame is to be straight forward. Set up ground rules as a family, and everyone needs to abide by them, especially in sibling interactions. No name-calling, and being mindful of each other\u2019s vulnerabilities are good places to start.\u00a0 When dealing with siblings, we need to be more mindful of the rules we set and ensure that they do not cross the line with each other. Siblings can be the best of friends one minute but turn on each other the next minute when things go sour.\u00a0 They usually bear close witness to each other\u2019s happiest and most difficult times. In the latter, these are the most powerful ammunition that they can use to hurt one another when they are in fight mode. Be sure to step in to stop them from treating each other that way. Make it a rule to never use vulnerabilities against each other. Perfection Vs Healthy Striving Where appropriate, we should also show our vulnerabilities to our children. As much as we want them to know that we see and accept them for who they are, we should also let them see us. Be a role model and show them that it is ok to show ourselves, and there\u2019s no need to be perfect because no one can be. As it is, we already live in a culture that\u2019s heavily edited to show perfection. But the key here is \u201cshow\u201d, whilst the reality may be far from perfect. Getting sucked into this false reality of being perfect is a big strain in life. We should encourage healthy striving in life, but that\u2019s not the same as being perfect. Healthy striving is internally driven whilst perfectionism is 100% externally driven. It has to do with caring about what people think of us. Instead of driving us to do better, it is actually a shield we carry to avoid shame, guilt, blame, etc. Instead, raise our children to be brave enough to show up for things that they are not good at. Life is a journey to learn and seek development, and everyone has to start something from the beginning, and that place is never perfect. Perfectionism is contagious. It\u2019s usually something that parents hand down to children. So let\u2019s check ourselves and change our ways before we change that of our children. More often than not, they are simply mirroring us. Happy Parenting Imperfectly! Children of today seem to be more mentally and emotionally strained. There could be many reasons for this, some under our control and some not. How we talk to and parent our children are things under our control, and I think these are the bigger factors that affect them. So let\u2019s be brave ourselves, and be the imperfect but supportive mother to our children, and give them the right foundation to grow up with stability. This is one of the most important things that we can do for them, leading them into more functional adulthood. To understand more about this topic, you can read more scientific findings on this. Or, you can listen to The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting in detail.