Shame, a feeling of discomfort and humiliation caused by an inner voice. Despite our age, race, gender, sexuality, and cultural background, we have all felt shame.
Children may feel trapped or scared that they’re a bad person when they accidentally hurt someone because they either struggle to listen to others, yell at their parents or friends, or have bad thoughts. However, when we are aware of ourselves and our mistakes, those feelings don’t last forever.
Kristin Maher’s, The Awfulizer: Learning To Overcome The Shame Game, excellently depicts children’s struggle with shame and self-worth.
The protagonist, James, encounters a green intruder, The Awfulizer, who follows him around, growing larger and stronger the more James believes the Awfulizer’s degrading comments about his mistakes.
Over time, James begins to internalize The Awfulizer's discouraging remarks, feeling more shameful and lonely as they affect his mental health.
However, James decides to disclose his shame to his parents, who openly listen, comfort him, and reassure him that no one is perfect.
When James confronts his feelings of shame The Awfulizer begins to shrink.
To win The Awfulizer’s “Shame Game,” and become the Awesomizer, James must appreciate the incredible things about himself, such as his bravery, strength, intelligence, and humor, even when he commits a mistake. This realization causes The Awfulizer to disappear and a smile to return to James’ face.
Shame can creep up on children who are experiencing new and uncomfortable feelings. The true value we derive from The Awfulizer, is how we identify the feelings associated with shame, the triggers, the internal voices, the people to confide in, and the outlets to relieve the stress of the “Shame Game."
Tips for Helping Children Become Awesomizers
Maher emphasizes the role of parents as mentors who guide children out dark places, helping them face the intangible enemies that infiltrate our children’s growing minds.
Related Reading: 5 Mindful Parenting Strategies for a Healthier Home
Aside from the self-evident message within The Awfulizer, Maher offers her readers advice at the end of her book on how to help children become Awesomizers.
This incredible list consists of important ways we can listen to our children, help them express and explain their inner struggles, and reassure them of their worth and awesomeness.
Most importantly, Maher stresses the importance of thanking our children for having the courage to open up to others and deal with their shame before it manifests into something worse.
Overall, Maher’s book is highly recommended for all parents and children, whether a family has been subject to the topic of shame or not.
The story parallels a much larger topic of listening, accepting, and confronting fears. To make a better world around us, we must listen to our next generation, and also equip them with the right tools to take care of themselves and the future generation ahead of them.
About Kristin Maher
Kristin is a personal wellness coach, mentor, children’s author, blogger, and natural encourager who is on a mission is to encourage people to heal and restore their mind and body.