It happened again. My two-year-old twins were fighting over the same stuffed animal. This isn’t new, either—the minute one starts playing with a new toy, the other has to make a grab for it. I told them time and again to stop. I had empathized with both kids, describing their emotions. I even tried letting them sort it out themselves.
Nothing was getting through. And before I knew it, I blurted out, “You always give me trouble!”
All kids will feel remorse, regardless of how defiant they may feel. Maybe your child said something bad about a friend. Or he lied about spilling paint all over the floor. And he likely feels terrible for having thrown tantrums.
At this point, the way we address our kids bears so much importance. Telling my twins they always give me trouble was, first off, inaccurate. And second, it sent the message that they are children who give me trouble, no matter what they do. Notice how the words didn’t address their behavior or how they can learn to share. I had attacked their character and called them troublesome.
And this is why the words we say are important—they can hone your child’s sense of guilt, or they can contribute to his shame. What’s the difference between guilt and shame?