Embarrassment is an emotion we have all experienced. It’s not easy to disguise and it causes great discomfort.
Triggered by a feeling of self-consciousness, shame, or awkwardness, we as adults, generally experience embarrassment less often than children. So, why do children feel embarrassed? One of the reasons is that children are trying to find their place in the world and the anxiety they suffer can cause a sense of humiliation which leads to embarrassment.
No matter how hard you try to prevent it from happening, your child will have to deal with embarrassment at some time in his/her life. The situation needs to be treated seriously because embarrassment can make an individual question their self-worth and self-image, which can result in a decreased level of self-confidence and self-esteem.
It is important to treat your child’s embarrassment seriously, don’t laugh it off. Your child might think you are laughing at him/her and that will make matters worse. Also, reassurance isn’t always helpful. As much as you want to take away the pain of embarrassment by reassuring your child that everything will be okay, your child may feel that you are suggesting that the incident wasn’t as serious as he/she thought. That may be true – but, at the time, it felt serious to your child. Support that feeling because it’s his/her feeling.
Your child may be shy to talk about the situation but having a discussion can help the individual see the circumstances differently. Support the way your child feels and help him/her come up with solutions. For example, “I understand the way you feel about knocking over that vase of flowers”. Then discuss options for handling the situation such as an apology – and offering to clean up.
The best way for your child to learn to move on from an embarrassment is by example. Show your child that it’s possible to survive the ordeal by getting over what happened. If there’s an apology to make, make it and move on. If you spilled something, clean it up and move on. The point is to move past the embarrassment. Let it go, and your child will learn to do the same.
Dealing with embarrassment is something everyone has to do.