What do shame and guilt look like in your teen?It can be easy to think that your teen has nothing to feel shame about–nothing to feel guilty about. In truth, he may not. But that does not mean his feelings are invalid. He may have experienced something at school or an event that you’re not aware of. One singular event could have led him to begin to feel shame, guilt, and a strong awareness of what he believes to be faults and defects about himself. What this looks like in your teen may not look the same in another teen. Your teen may struggle to get a good night of rest. He may start to show signs of increased anxiety and depression. He may struggle with nightmares. He may also use alarming phrases like, “I’m a mistake.” “I want to hurt myself.” “I’m not good enough.” When you start to hear phrases like this, you must intervene. This is not typically just a phase that he will grow out of. These statements can carry some serious concerns that should be addressed as soon as possible.
The connection between shame and guiltWhile they are two entirely different emotions, there is a strong connection between teen shame and guilt.
- Shame is the strong and often overwhelming feeling that specific things about you, or your whole self, are wrong. We often feel shame related to the fear of negative feedback from outside influences. Shame may or may not be connected to any particular triggering event or behavior.
- Guilt is the overwhelming feeling you get when you did or feel you did something wrong. We often feel guilty in private, a feeling that is elicited by our negative thoughts and self-appraisal.
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